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Recovery, the 12 Steps and Jewish Spirituality: Reclaiming Hope, Courage & Wholeness


A major new Jewish contribution to 12-Step spirituality.
Claim the spiritual freedom that waits beyond the suffering and slavery of addiction.

"One of the important similarities between AA and Jewish spirituality is the statement in Step 12, 'to practice these principles in all our affairs....' There is no dichotomy of sacred versus secular. Jewish spirituality applies to how we eat, sleep, work, socialize and recreate. There is nothing that is...

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Recovery, the 12 Steps and Jewish Spirituality: Reclaiming Hope, Courage & Wholeness

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A major new Jewish contribution to 12-Step spirituality.
Claim the spiritual freedom that waits beyond the suffering and slavery of addiction.

"One of the important similarities between AA and Jewish spirituality is the statement in Step 12, 'to practice these principles in all our affairs....' There is no dichotomy of sacred versus secular. Jewish spirituality applies to how we eat, sleep, work, socialize and recreate. There is nothing that is external to the relationship of human being to God."
—from the Foreword

This easy-to-read exploration from a Jewish perspective is the first comprehensive approach to successfully integrate classic Jewish spirituality with the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and other recovery resources.

With clarity and passion, Rabbi Paul Steinberg masterfully weaves traditional Jewish wisdom with the experience, strength and hope of AA. He draws on Jewish resources—theological, psychological and ethical—that speak to the spiritual dimension of the disease, and shows how the principles of Jewish spiritual recovery directly align with those of the AA 12 Steps. Along the way, he courageously shares his own personal struggles with alcoholism and addiction in a way that will help others find guidance and a new life path—and stay on it.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Deeply personal, richly informed.... A beautiful example of reaching for Judaism's highest values through one’s own challenges and changes. There are great riches here."
Beth Fishman, PhD, director, Jewish Center for Addiction, Jewish Child and Family Services of Chicago

“This is it: 12-Step Jewish spirituality—applied. A profound reflection on the life of a Jewish alcoholic—a rabbi—who found his way back through Judaism.”
Dr. Kerry M. Olitzky, coauthor, Twelve Jewish Steps to Recovery; executive director, Big Tent Judaism/Jewish Outreach Institute

“Many Jews wonder if Judaism and the 12 Steps are compatible, and whether Judaism can speak to our disease at all. [This book] puts an end to our wondering.... [It] belongs in the hands of every Jew in recovery, starting with you.”
Rabbi Rami Shapiro, author, Recovery—The Sacred Art: The Twelve Steps as Spiritual Practice

“Teaches us that recovery will reclaim your life when addiction has destroyed your living. Courageously, honestly and painfully, Paul Steinberg knowingly walks us through the unknown forest of ourselves and the Jewish tradition.... Humbled, I walk with him.”
Reb Mimi Feigelson, lecturer in Rabbinics and Chassidic Thought, American Jewish University

“Rabbi Paul Steinberg is a trustworthy companion. He offers deep spiritual wisdom and hard-earned authenticity that guides the reader toward reclaiming the fullness of life along the 12-Step path.”
Rabbi Elie Kaplan Spitz, author, Healing from Despair: Choosing Wholeness in a Broken World

Paul Steinberg shares ... that soul-saving lifeline that occurs when the 12-Step program connects seamlessly with our own inherent beliefs and spiritual foundation. This book will aid many in accessing the healing power of the recovery program.”
Harry L. Haroutunian, MD, physician director, Betty Ford Center

“I can’t recall a book that has opened my eyes, touched my heart or awakened my soul more than Paul Steinberg’s Recovery, the 12 Steps and Jewish Spirituality. If you measure this treasure in terms of insight, honesty, courage and compassion, it matches the greatest works of the human soul. I will be sharing this book widely, and returning to it again and again.”
Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson, DHL, vice president, American Jewish University; author, Passing Life’s Tests: Spiritual Reflections on the Trial of Abraham, the Binding of Isaac

“Rabbi Steinberg has written the go-to resource for Jews in recovery, and also for those who wish to support them. His honesty about his own addiction and recovery, combined with his insights into Jewish spiritual teachings, make this a very powerful book—comforting and inspiring as well as informative and accessible. The wisdom of Jewish tradition and of the 12 Steps are brought together here in ways that deepen our understanding of both.”
Louis E. Newman, John M. and Elizabeth W. Musser Professor of Religious Studies, Carleton College; author, Repentance: The Meaning and Practice of Teshuvah

“It takes a courageous soul to stand naked and bare one’s soul in the public square. Rabbi Steinberg has done just that in Recovery, the 12 Steps and Jewish Spirituality. His remarkable candor ... will surely enlighten and empower others who ... struggle with addiction, perfectionism, Judaism and spirituality.... [He] has taken the complex challenges of understanding addiction, recovery, God, honesty, AA, mitzvot, spirituality, love, Judaism, trust, Torah and humanity and woven them into a seamless tapestry. I am grateful to Rabbi Steinberg for sharing himself through the book, and for the many new insights I gleaned from its pages.”
Janice Kamenir-Reznik, cofounder and president, Jewish World Watch

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781580238083
  • Publisher: Jewish Lights Publishing
  • Publication date: 10/3/2014
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 720,134
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Rabbi Paul Steinberg is a nationally renowned Jewish educator and a professional staff member at Beit T'Shuvah, the acclaimed recovery center in Los Angeles. Previously a rabbi at Valley Beth Shalom congregation in Encino, California, his books include the three-volume series Celebrating the Jewish Year, which won the National Jewish Book Award.

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Table of Contents

Foreword xi
Preface xiii
Introduction xvii

Part I A Judaism of Experience, Strength, and Hope:
A Rabbi's Journey through Alcoholism 1
1 Understanding Addiction, Jewish Spirituality, and Medicine 7
Addiction and Choice 8
Treating Body and Soul 10
Personal Reflections 11

2 A God and Religion of Recovery 13
Discovering God 13
Discovering Religion 18
Personal Reflections 20

3 The Dignity of the Self 23
The Dignity of Infinite Value 24
The Dignity of Equality 27
The Dignity of Uniqueness 29
Embracing Dignity 32
Personal Reflections 35

4 The Evil Inclination 37
The Origin of "Evil" 37
Outside the Garden 38
Suppressing versus Repressing the Yetzer Ha-Ra 40
Identifying the Yetzer Ha-Ra 42
Elevating Evil 46
Personal Reflections 48

5 Judaism and Alcohol: A Complicated Relationship 50
A Source of Depravity 53
Getting Loaded on Purim 57
Personal Reflections 60

Part II The Covenant of Recovery—Spirituality in Action:
Aligning Jewish Spirituality with AA 63

6 Study—Talmud Torah 67
Torah Study as a Spiritual Practice 68
Study and AA 71

7 Prayer—Tefilah 74
Connecting I, You, and Us 76
Prayer and AA 78

8 Repentance—Teshuvah 81
The Process of Spiritual Transformation 82
First Comes the Awakening 83
Teshuvah and Steps 4 and 5 84
Teshuvah and Steps 8 and 9 86
Teshuvah: An Everyday Occurrence 87

9 Service—Tikkun 89
Healing the World’s Brokenness 90
Broken Open 91
Service and AA 95

Part III 12 Texts for the 12 Steps 99
Step 1 103
Step 2 105
Step 3 107
Step 4 110
Step 5 113
Step 6 115
Step 7 118
Step 8 120
Step 9 122
Step 10 125
Step 11 127
Step 12 130
Gratitude 133

Glossary of Jewish Terms and Thinkers 135
Notes 143
Suggestions for Further Reading 149

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