Based on well-known results, 12-step programs based on Alcoholics Anonymous and branching out to narcotics and such, appear to be extremely effective. However, since Jews are roughly a 1:100 minority in most of the United States (densely populated cities being an exception, of course), it's unlikely a Jewish alcoholic will be able to find a fully Jewish AA group.

Since AA requires surrender of control of our lives to "G-d as we understand Him", as one of the steps, religiously there should be no problem with a Jew's joining a non-fully-Jewish AA group.

Moreover, because one of the main rules in AA is to never encounter fellow members socially, there should be no danger of intermarriage from this. Am I right?

Is there anything else I should be concerned with when deciding to join such a group?

  • many meetings are held in churches, which may be a problem. See judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/3666/voting-in-a-church and judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/1351/… and linked questions – Menachem Dec 1 '13 at 22:08
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    This article seems to imply that one can attend an AA meeting as long as this doesn't lead to participation in non-Jewish communal prayer (and it even endorses the communal recitation with non-Jews of Tehillim in English!): chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/848875/jewish/… – Shivaram Lingamneni Dec 2 '13 at 1:31
  • If you need a 12-step program, it's mamish pikuach nefesh. – Tatpurusha Mar 31 '14 at 5:15
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    Rabbi Shais Taub in his book has an appendix which provides 12 step programs to contact which are appropriate for Torah observant Jews. I don't have the book to check if he specifically lists issues to look out for, but I think it would be a good resource for your question. – Yishai Jun 16 '14 at 14:53
  • Not that an anonymous someone on the internet matters, but I weighed these issues and in the end I accompanied a close friend to a meeting run by the Caren institute which was held in a church. I was happy when I got there that the meating was in a basement room and not the main sanctuary but I had gone fully willing to go into the sanctuary too if need be. – user6591 Oct 19 '14 at 23:59

Mingling with gentiles for a specific purpose that can't be accomplished with Jews is perfectly fine.

If you need the 12 step program, go for it.

However, I can not offer personalized, professional advice, and this website does not take the place of seeking such advice from your rabbi.

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    I don't doubt your first sentence, but editing in a source or argument for it would make your answer much more valuable. – msh210 Dec 1 '13 at 3:09

It has been ruled by the Beis Din of crown heights that AA is officially Avoda Zara, since it is run by those who celebrate december 24th and they say "G-d" which to them means their idols, and it has idolatrous roots, as well as the first of the 12 steps being "I have no self control over alcohol" which contradicts the Torah's principle of free choice



A brief passage for some context:

The 12 step meetings of AA contain several problematic aspects. One should therefore seek other sources which are fitting with Halacha and Jewish Hashkafa.

The 12 step program was invented by Christians. Although many of the programs do not describe who they refer to when they say “G-d”, the foundation of it was based on belief in Avoda Zara. This can be compared to hearing a lecture on G-d from a priest without mentioning the name of their deity. Even if he will offer some great inspirational self help stories and tools, it is obvious that one should not listen to it.

There are programs that transform the twelve steps to a “Torahdik Hashkafa of the 12 steps”, but one must be cautious about such programs, as it is taking from a Tumah source and mixing it with “Kedusha”.

One noted problem is the very first of the 12 steps focuses:

“We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable”. This idea is routed in christian belief that the people are incomplete and are all sinners…. One need not elaborate any further. Therefore, the diagnosis is that it’s not a “sin” but rather a “sickness”. Of course, this is the exact opposite from Jewish belief in Bechira Chafshis (freedom of choice). Of course, one could argue that there are similar notions in Torah, as Chazal tell us in Kiddushin that the Yetzer hara is so powerful that without Hashem’s help we cannot overcome him. Nonetheless, there are major distinctions between the approach in Chazal to the approach – L’havdil – in the christian belief system. The Torah expects us to take an active fighting approach against the Yetzer Hara and ask for Siyata Dishmaya

It is possible that one could purify the 12 steps program from all foreign material. But it would require someone with exceptional ability, who is also thoroughly knowledgeable in Torah thought to do so in a correct manner. It would then need to be vetted by Gedolei Yisroel to ensure that a good job was indeed done.

They provide other articles as proof there, a brief passage from article 1:

צרי לדעת שמקור שיטת 12 הצעדי הוא בנצרות (והיא בעצ משקפת את תמצית האמונה הנוצרית)... היסוד הוא האמונה הנוצרית שהחטא הוא מושרש באנושות מחטא אד הראשו ואי מנוס ממנו ועל כ הוא בעצ מחלה אנושית אנושה שאי לה מרפא

free translation:

one needs to know that the source of the 12 steps is in noytzroos [december 24thians] (and it is taken over in essence by the noytzroos belief)... the foundation ** of it ** is the noytzroos belief that sin is rooted in men from the first men, and there is no hope ** for escape ** from it, and therefor it automatically sickens people in essence



יש איסור דאורייתא להשתמש בכל חומר שהוא שמקורו גויי ועוסק בקשר ע אלוקי . הוא הדגיש שאי זו רק הנהגה או סייג, אלא איסור גמור מהתורה. איסור זה תק" מבלי לעיי כלל בפרטי החומר עצמו, כלומר, ג א אי בו כפירה ביסודות האמונה – עצ הלימוד מהגויי הוא איסור תורה . המקור לאיסור זה הוא בדברי הפסוק (דברי יב !ל, לא): הרמב ה, " מבאר איסור זה כ: "אמר כי כאשר יכרית ה' הגוי הה מפנינו וישתקע ש ע"ז מ האר( ונשב בארצ לבטח, לא נחשוב בלבנו... אעשה אני לש הנכבד כאשר היו עושי הגוי לאלהיה וייטב לפניו. לכ הזהיר, לא תעשה כ". כלומר, בשו אופ אי ללמוד מהגויי דרכי כיצד לעבוד את ה .

not gonna translate the whole thing, but basically an isur duraysa to learn from Goyim ways to serve Hashem

Also from that article, a psak din by the rosh yeshiva of torash chaim hara shmuel tal:

כ שיטה זו אסורה בשימוש בכל אופ שהוא ולכל מטרה שהיא, ה כשיטה חינוכית וה כשיטה טיפולית, ולא מחמת הפגיעה ביסודות האמונה שיי בה שו אופ היתר

"this opinion [of the twelve steps] is forbidden in every way and in every circumstance, rather as an educational opinion or a secondary opinion, and it's not relevant regarding it any way of permissibility, because of the blemish it creates in the Faith"

Also harav Micha Halevi, the rosh yeshiva of "itres nechemia" said in a shiur when he mentioned the twelve steps (referenced also in article one from before):

)! לא יכול – אי דבר כזה בבית המדרש!! אי שיטת "לא יכול" בבית המדרש!! אי שיטה כזאת!! זו שיטה בכפירה!!...

"[the idea from the twelve steps that one is] "not able" [to overcome it] -- there is no idea like this in the beis hamidrash!! this opinion of "I am not able" does not exist in the beis hamidrash! There is no opinion like this! This is an opinion of kefirah!"

Also in the beginning of that article one it tells an account regarding Harav Tao (I think thats how its pronounced) that young men approached him and said that only through the 12 steps could they find help, to which he "stood up" and said that it is still forbidden in "every way / case" because of the kefirah that is mixed with this sheetah (of the 12 steps), and it says he told them to go find other kosher methods of self help

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