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Baalei Teshuvah - Open discussion


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#1 much2learn

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 11:07 PM

So I'm probably not the only BT on this site. I'm probably not the only one who has a story. And I'm probably not the only one who struggles almost daily with some aspect of the choice.

I thought I could start a new topic (don't know why it's in the seforim section of Misc though...?) for us - We can discuss our lives before/after, where we've come from, where we're going, why we made the choice, our parents/siblings, etc. Just an open forum for like-minded people

:) I don't mind sharing my story publicly just to get the ball rolling...

#2 SomeGirl

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Posted 06 December 2011 - 01:20 AM

Sounds good. "Frum" doesn't only refer to FFBs and it would probably be a good idea to get people talking about issues that BTs face and struggle with. (Shidduchim, kiruv-issues, families issues, seminary/yeshiva choices, etc)

#3 SmileySimcha123

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Posted 06 December 2011 - 05:53 PM

what's your story? Not to be nosy or anything........

#4 superjew94

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Posted 06 December 2011 - 10:05 PM

Im a convert at age 17 which is extremely difficult esp since right now im trying to apply to seminaries. Everydau=y things always remind me in the back of my mind that make me feel like i dont belong. i mean ive asked my friends and they think im nuts cuz the way i think and the way i dress is very bais yaakov type but still inside i feel like im almost not good enough,

#5 much2learn

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Posted 07 December 2011 - 12:06 AM

what's your story? Not to be nosy or anything........


Was this for me or SomeGirl? :-) I don't mind sharing at all if it was for me...

#6 much2learn

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Posted 08 December 2011 - 08:29 AM

Early 2010, I started working at a (mixed) gym as a personal trainer. I befriended one of the women there who ended up having a SIGNIFICANT impact on my life. We became SUPER close, like sisters. She was an amazing frum woman, mother of 5, and we just connected on a level that I hadn't shared with someone before. At first, I never really paid attention to the frum side (I was born/raised Reform). We just had a good time, and went with the flow.

But around Rosh Hashana 2010, I was given tickets to an Orthodox shul 3 doors away from me from a Rabbi whom I used to learn with in High School, and everything started to change. I was at a shiur til 12:30am, and just fell in love with the religion. Once I went back to the gym after the yom tovim, this friend and I connected on a totally different level. She introduced me to her friends, she got me involved and connected with Project Insipire in the area, and we started to learn together. We were practically inseperable best friends (until she went home to her REAL kids :-) )

After 3 months, I was Kosher, Shomer Shabbos and Tznius. I went 0 - 60 in 4 seconds. I'm sure you've all heard the term "Nichnas Maher, Yotzei maher." - well, yotzei maher in did. In my pursuit to be the "Best Jew", impress my friend, go to any/all shiurim I heard about and learn from my Rabbi, I'd completely burned myself out. Between the burn out, a fall-out with the best friend and breaking up with my fiancee, I lost my fire. I slip back into my old ways (which aren't ACTUALLY that bad - I kept a lot of my spirituality/derech eretz/middos, but lacked BIG TIME in my observance).

Fast forward to Shmini Atzeiret this year. I get invited to a friend/client's house for a meal in her family's sukkah (she's FFB, dad's a Rabbi). WE hit it off really well too. I see the whole pattern starting again, in a good way! I get inspired, the embers start to glow again, I feel that inspiration coming back. I'm in love with my Judaism again. But this time, I know differently. I don't want it to "Nichnas Maher." I'm taking things SLOOOOOOOWLY this time around. Early November, I started turning off my phone on Shabbos. Last week, I made the commitment not to drive on Shabbos. By early 2012, I promised myself I'd Kosher my kitchen, and start learning with my Rabbi again. It's going to be a very gradual, slow process because I'm in it for the long haul this time...

Im a convert at age 17 which is extremely difficult esp since right now im trying to apply to seminaries. Everydau=y things always remind me in the back of my mind that make me feel like i dont belong. i mean ive asked my friends and they think im nuts cuz the way i think and the way i dress is very bais yaakov type but still inside i feel like im almost not good enough,


You converted, or your just became more religious?

Are your friends mostly Frum or BT?

#7 SomeGirl

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Posted 08 December 2011 - 07:08 PM


After 3 months, I was Kosher, Shomer Shabbos and Tznius. I went 0 - 60 in 4 seconds. I'm sure you've all heard the term "Nichnas Maher, Yotzei maher." - well, yotzei maher in did. In my pursuit to be the "Best Jew", impress my friend, go to any/all shiurim I heard about and learn from my Rabbi, I'd completely burned myself out. Between the burn out, a fall-out with the best friend and breaking up with my fiancee, I lost my fire. I slip back into my old ways (which aren't ACTUALLY that bad - I kept a lot of my spirituality/derech eretz/middos, but lacked BIG TIME in my observance).

Fast forward to Shmini Atzeiret this year. I get invited to a friend/client's house for a meal in her family's sukkah (she's FFB, dad's a Rabbi). WE hit it off really well too. I see the whole pattern starting again, in a good way! I get inspired, the embers start to glow again, I feel that inspiration coming back. I'm in love with my Judaism again. But this time, I know differently. I don't want it to "Nichnas Maher." I'm taking things SLOOOOOOOWLY this time around. Early November, I started turning off my phone on Shabbos. Last week, I made the commitment not to drive on Shabbos. By early 2012, I promised myself I'd Kosher my kitchen, and start learning with my Rabbi again. It's going to be a very gradual, slow process because I'm in it for the long haul this time...


Ha, I've seen many people go down this road, 0-60 then they get a flat tire. It is really hard for everyone involved because while it is great to see people becoming more involved and observant, it is a predictable conclusion that everyone thinks "Isn't going to happen to them." It is important to take it slooooow and steady. (Will post my ~story soon)

#8 SomeGirl

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Posted 08 December 2011 - 07:19 PM

Im a convert at age 17 which is extremely difficult esp since right now im trying to apply to seminaries. Everydau=y things always remind me in the back of my mind that make me feel like i dont belong. i mean ive asked my friends and they think im nuts cuz the way i think and the way i dress is very bais yaakov type but still inside i feel like im almost not good enough,


The thing you have to remember is, from the second you came out of the mikvah, you were a Jew. End of story. There is no "I don't belong." Because any halachic conversion makes you as much a Jew as the girl who can trace her Jewish Lineage to Mt. Sinai. You are as much a Jew as any Rosh Yeshivah and you belong just as much in seminary as any other young Jewish woman, Bais Yaakov or not. Even if you did not act and dress like every other Bais Yaakov girl, you would still be a Jew. The incredible, great thing about us, is that HaShem made us unique so that we can all learn something new and help eachother. The unique thoughts and experiences you have in your journey of yiddishkeit, will be your greatest contribution to the Jewish people.

#9 SomeGirl

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Posted 08 December 2011 - 08:10 PM

Ok, because I could probably tell my "story" in 500 pages, I will try to get the interesting stuff in there and any specific questions, I'm pretty much an open book when it comes to this subject.

I didn't grow up religious, (obviously, considering I'm in the B'T thread...) Both my parents are Jewish, but my mother was raised in a seudo-conservative/whatever somewhat wealthy household. Meaning they wouldn't eat Bacon, but pork chops weren't a problem. They went to synagogue on the High Holidays like most of the Jewish families in their New York neighborhood and all had their Bar/Bat Mitzvahs. My mother's view of Judaism has always been that it is traditional and without much purpose.My father's family was similarly apathetic about actual observance.

We had moved from New York to a small town out west. There was no synagogue so I didn't have a Bat Mitzvah or ever learn to read/write Hebrew. The only thing we ever did Jewishly was light Chanukah candles, so I knew the prayers to light. Eventually my mother in her search for religion, was approached by people who offed to study the bible with her and she "converted" to sect of ministry based Protestantism when I was about 10 or 11.

Though I fought for the most part tooth and nail, I ended up going to their meetings three times a week and studied their Bible once a week with a woman from group. To please my mother, at 12 or 13, I became what they referred to as an "unbaptized publisher" someone who was ready to go door to door talking about G-d and give out magazines, but wasn't ready to be baptized. I realized later on, how bizarre that was. I was ready to help try and recruit new people, but I wasn't actually sure of anything myself? I never had any intention of being baptized, and the novelty of pleasing my mother and her friends didn't last very long. At 15 or 16 I was allowed to stop going to meetings and all that Jazz.

Throughout all these events though, I still had a strong Jewish Identity, as odd as it seems. My mother would tell me "You are a Christian-Jew." Her group didn't find Jewish practices to be inherently wrong, just arbitrary. The point that I was Jewish, was reiterated by an observant cousin of mine who I was trying to talk to about Christianity once. Though I think she was like, 10 at the time she said something that I carry with me. From my best memory she basically said "No matter where you go, no matter what you do, and no matter what you believe, you are Jewish and that makes you special in this world."

I got to college and my first week on campus, I was walking to class and was approached by a woman working for an Orthodox Kiruv organization(not chabad). She invited me for coffee, after I confirmed that I was Jewish, and after meeting with her, I started going to shabbos meals on a regular basis. The next semester on a whim, I decided to take the class through the Maimonides Fellowship that was offered on campus. 10 classes, two shabbatons and I would make $400! Why not? I took the class and loved it, it also opened my eyes because I thought I knew what Judaism was, I studied the bible and all that jazz, what were they going to teach me? I learned, that I knew pretty much nothing, but that I wanted to know a whole lot more. That summer I kept my first shabbos(on shabbatons I think most people snuck their cell phones and such) at the house of the original rebbetzin who approached me (with of course her kids and the Rabbi).

I decided to take the money I earned from Maimonides and go on a women's learning retreat for ten days in Canada which was an amazing learning experience right before the new semester. After that I started regularly coming for full shabboses to their house, though I made no commitments. For the first time I went to shuel on Rosh Hashanah and kept the Yom Tov and I even fasted for the first time ever on Yom Kippur! I went to Israel on birthright, and though I was probably one of the few students who actually kept shabbos on the trip, I decided if I was here, in Israel, keeping shabbos on the goyish New Years, then I was ready to make the commitment to become shomer shabbos when I returned home. So that is what I did. It will be a year this month I'm shomer shabbos and I am trying to add new things little by little here and there. I also went back to Israel to check out seminary for three weeks this summer between the end of finals and summer classes.

It is so strange to me how far I've come, yet how far I haven't come. *shrug*

#10 superjew94

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Posted 08 December 2011 - 10:01 PM

Early 2010, I started working at a (mixed) gym as a personal trainer. I befriended one of the women there who ended up having a SIGNIFICANT impact on my life. We became SUPER close, like sisters. She was an amazing frum woman, mother of 5, and we just connected on a level that I hadn't shared with someone before. At first, I never really paid attention to the frum side (I was born/raised Reform). We just had a good time, and went with the flow.

But around Rosh Hashana 2010, I was given tickets to an Orthodox shul 3 doors away from me from a Rabbi whom I used to learn with in High School, and everything started to change. I was at a shiur til 12:30am, and just fell in love with the religion. Once I went back to the gym after the yom tovim, this friend and I connected on a totally different level. She introduced me to her friends, she got me involved and connected with Project Insipire in the area, and we started to learn together. We were practically inseperable best friends (until she went home to her REAL kids :-) )

After 3 months, I was Kosher, Shomer Shabbos and Tznius. I went 0 - 60 in 4 seconds. I'm sure you've all heard the term "Nichnas Maher, Yotzei maher." - well, yotzei maher in did. In my pursuit to be the "Best Jew", impress my friend, go to any/all shiurim I heard about and learn from my Rabbi, I'd completely burned myself out. Between the burn out, a fall-out with the best friend and breaking up with my fiancee, I lost my fire. I slip back into my old ways (which aren't ACTUALLY that bad - I kept a lot of my spirituality/derech eretz/middos, but lacked BIG TIME in my observance).

Fast forward to Shmini Atzeiret this year. I get invited to a friend/client's house for a meal in her family's sukkah (she's FFB, dad's a Rabbi). WE hit it off really well too. I see the whole pattern starting again, in a good way! I get inspired, the embers start to glow again, I feel that inspiration coming back. I'm in love with my Judaism again. But this time, I know differently. I don't want it to "Nichnas Maher." I'm taking things SLOOOOOOOWLY this time around. Early November, I started turning off my phone on Shabbos. Last week, I made the commitment not to drive on Shabbos. By early 2012, I promised myself I'd Kosher my kitchen, and start learning with my Rabbi again. It's going to be a very gradual, slow process because I'm in it for the long haul this time...



You converted, or your just became more religious?

Are your friends mostly Frum or BT?

i converted and all of my friends are ffbs

#11 much2learn

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 07:45 AM

It is so strange to me how far I've come, yet how far I haven't come. *shrug*


What you've done thus far is HUGE!!! You should be SO happy with your accomplishments thus far, especially given what you had to do to get there. Must've taken a lot of strength and courage to to the opposite of what it sounds like your mother was doing.

We all still have a ways to go in terms of improving ourselves, but it doesn't end for anyone, BT or FFB... There's always room for growth.

Great job on something amazing, and good luck in the future!

i converted and all of my friends are ffbs


So if you're fitting in with them pretty well, what part of you still feels not good enough? What reminds you of your past?

#12 jewgirl613

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Posted 15 January 2012 - 01:32 PM

Hey Im also a BT (as u can prob guess by where i am posting this response :) ) im in 12th grade now and finishing up with my seminary applications. Did any of you go to seminary? What were your parents opinions of this? Which seminaries do u think wud be good? Because on one hand I need a place that will help me to continue growing and be a "really good" place like with "good girls" but on the other hand, I am less sheltered than these types of girls because of my background, and i need to be able to relate to them. Any ideas? Thanks

#13 GotEmunah?

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 11:04 PM

I'm FFB (so I really don't belong here :D) but I just want to say that I am in TOTAL awe of what I have read so far! You are amazing!!! You seriously inspire me!

#14 superjew94

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 09:05 PM




So if you're fitting in with them pretty well, what part of you still feels not good enough? What reminds you of your past?


really a lot of it is my family- i try so hard to do all the mitzvos and follow all the halachos while they dont even seem to care so much. my father is even michalel shabbos and isnt makbid on the halachos of kashrus
they just dont seem to realize how serious torah and mitzvos are

#15 shifpifer1

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Posted 22 April 2012 - 04:49 PM

thats obnoxious to say, your FFB friends are in the pattern of doing mitzvos everyday, for them its like brushing their teeth. One of my friends told me that it is impossible for her to even imagine growing up less frum because she has only known growing up frum. At first when i heard her say this i thought what a box of a mind she has, then i realized, she doesnt know any different! then i thought of all of the good things about her and how much i love my friend so dearly. You shouldn't be judging them so harshly! Well on one hand you probably have a hard time learning or giving up something from your "goyishe" life, they have to work on appreciating the Torah and saying their brachos with kavana. We are all human beings, we all have flaws, you have struggles, your FFB friends have struggles, I have struggles. We have to love each other and accept one another for our differences.

#16 superjew94

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 12:07 AM

thats obnoxious to say, your FFB friends are in the pattern of doing mitzvos everyday, for them its like brushing their teeth. One of my friends told me that it is impossible for her to even imagine growing up less frum because she has only known growing up frum. At first when i heard her say this i thought what a box of a mind she has, then i realized, she doesnt know any different! then i thought of all of the good things about her and how much i love my friend so dearly. You shouldn't be judging them so harshly! Well on one hand you probably have a hard time learning or giving up something from your "goyishe" life, they have to work on appreciating the Torah and saying their brachos with kavana. We are all human beings, we all have flaws, you have struggles, your FFB friends have struggles, I have struggles. We have to love each other and accept one another for our differences.

i appreciate your thoughts and trust me i know everyone has struggles but its a little "obnoxious" of u to say that to me because u too dont know my family situation. i was just answering a question honestly and just because "we are all human beings" doesn't make it any easier to live life as a geyores because trust me it is very hard and i have struggled just as my parents have and i have struggled more than them in some ways. i do appreciate everything my parents take on and the amazing lifestyle change that my family has gone thru. i do work very hard to help them grow and understand more about yiddishkeit, but again that does not mean that it is not hard to be the teacher in my family and not the student like most children are to their parents.

#17 shifpifer1

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Posted 03 June 2012 - 12:41 PM

i am soooo sooooo sorry superjew!!! I totally read your post wrong!! I was writing in response to a TOTALLY different issue! I thought that you were frustrated with your FFB friends for doing halachos and seeming not to care!!!

yeah home has more affect than anything and when you live with people who aren't the same "level" (i really hate that word usage, but im at a lack for words) it can be very difficult.

Chazal say that in the coming Ymos Hamashiach that the kids will teach the students how to be, not only in Torah and mitzvos but in other things as well, our Dor has a very big responsiblity especially b/c many of us come from Baal Teshuvah homes.

#18 superjew94

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Posted 03 June 2012 - 10:05 PM

it's totally ok
im sorry for responding so harshly i was having a bad day....

#19 achasshoalti

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Posted 05 June 2012 - 11:36 AM

A Baal Teshuva once came to R’ Avrohom Gurwitz of Yeshivas Ner Moshe.



“Rabbi,” he said, “I can’t go on. When I think of my past and all the things I did wrong, I can’t imagine being able to consider myself an observant Jew.”



“You know,” replied R’ Gurwitz, “Human beings have eyes in the front of our heads, not in the back. If we stretch our necks and turn, we can look behind us, but the angle is skewed and it’s uncomfortable to do it for any length of time. G-d made it this way to teach us that the important thing is to always look ahead, and look forward to what you can do and where you can go. You should look behind you to see where you’ve been by all means, but if you focus on it too long you won’t be able to get anywhere, and you’ll wind up hurting yourself.”



We just experienced the yom tov of shavuos. Aside from the cheesecake and all the food, you can try to come out of this yom tov with a new appreciation for what you have and what you can become. It is easy to despair, to look back at the past and give up. It is more difficult to lift yourself up and tell yourself, I can be better. I can be more.