I admit I am attracted to many of the aspects of traditional Jewish life—a beautiful Shabbat family meal, a kosher kitchen, a good Jewish education for my kids. But I don’t want to be one of those religious extremists. I don’t want to go that far. I’m trying to set what my borders are. Can you help me?


You remind me of the day my daughter came home from school and told me of a new girl in her class who came from a small family: she had only four siblings!

You see, my daughter at the time was one of seven. Many of her friends came from even larger families. To her, five children was a small family.

When I shared this story with some friends, one of them remarked, “What’s a large family? A family with two more children than you have. If you have two children, four is a large family; if you have six, eight is a large family; if you have twelve children, fourteen is a large family . . .”

What is an extremist? Is someone who keeps kosher an extremist? A man who wears a beard? Someone who won’t answer the phone on Shabbat? Someone who believes in G‑d? Someone who prays? Every day? Three times a day? Someone who will not marry out? Everyone’s definition of extremism is different—and a lot of it is relative to where you are at a particular stage in your life.

So don’t worry about being an extremist. Continue your voyage of growth in the study of Torah and the observance of mitzvahs. Slowly but steadily, climb the ladder one step at a time, moving upwards, ever upwards . . .

Rabbi Joshua ben Perachiah would teach (Ethics 1:6), “Assume for yourself a master [spiritual guide/teacher/mentor]; acquire for yourself a friend.” Find a rabbi (or rebbetzin) who will serve as a spiritual guide. Become a part of a community that will support and encourage your growth as a Jew. You should be able to find both at a Chabad center near you.

May your journey towards your roots and your essence be blessed with much success.

Mrs. Chaya Sarah Silberberg