Jews & Alcoholics Anonymous

Dispelling the myths that Jews aren't alcoholics and that Alcoholics Anonymous is only for Christians

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Jewish Teaching

Steps 1 & 2: We recognized that we were powerless over alcohol and that only a power greater than ourselves can return our sanity. We choose to call that higher power God as we understand him.


The Talmud: Man's yetzer (impulse, temptation) gains upon him every day, and if it were not that God helps him resist the temptation, man would be powerless. (Sukhah, 52a)

Step 3: We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God.


The Talmud: Make His will your will and negate your will before His. (Ethics of the Fathers, II, 4)

Steps 4 & 5: We made a fearless and thorough personal inventory, and shared this inventory with our higher power and at least one other person.


All the musar authorities stress the need for regular heshbon hanefesh (personal inventory) as well as having a confidant with whom one shares it.

Step 9: We made those amends to anyone we had harmed whenever this was possible.


Shulhan Arukh (Code of Jewish Law, Orach Hayim 606:1): Yom Kippur forgives only for sins between man and God. Offenses committed against another person are not forgiven until the offender seeks direct forgiveness from the one he has harmed.

Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening we carried that message to other alcoholics.


The Torah holds Jews responsible for one another, to the extent that one has the capability of correcting another's misdeeds. "Teach and correct your friend, then you will not bear responsibility for his sins." (Leviticus XIX, 17)

Some Questions & Answers

What about the fact that most AA and NA meetings are held in churches?

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Rabbi Abraham Twerski

Rabbi Abraham Twerski, M.D. is a nationally acknowledged expert in the field of alcoholism and chemical dependency, and is currently the Medical Director of the Gateway Rehabilitation Center in Pittsburgh, as well as an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.