Beyond BT

Spiritual Growth for Jews

Rugby Judaism and the Weather

It is my philosophy that baalei teshuva should not abandon everything about their past when they become observant. Some life experiences from ‘pre-teshuva’ days are valuable when one is observant too. I use my experiences a rugby player to make this point in a somewhat lighthearted way. As winter settles in here in Chicago, I […]

Those Five Magic Words

“I never would have known!” What a thrill I feel every time I hear it. But as Rabbi Greenman so movingly describes, how healthy is it to want to “pass”? Like all of you, I’ve explored so many stages of BT-hood; found the truth beyond those early idealized visions of the frum world. The amazement […]

Plateauing & Leaving the Cave

There’s a story in the Gemara which I think describes the phenomenon of plateauing in two of our greatest spiritual giants. Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and his son Elazar were forced to live in a cave for 12 years, hiding from the Roman authorities, who had an execution order out for them. After the decree […]

Kashrus and the BT

As I said in my post last week, as major as kashrus is, it was one of the last mitzvos I was able to embrace. The reason for that was that I couldn’t bear to hurt my mother. I was sure she would take my refusal to eat her food as a personal rejection. My […]

You Used to Be So Much Fun – Part 1 – Audio Post

Rabbi Shlomo Goldberg, Menahel, Yeshiva Ohr Eliyahu (LA) gave a number of lectures at the Life After Teshuva conference in Passaic in 2001. Today we are making available part 1 of “You Used to be So Much Fun – Relating to Non-Religious Family and Friends”. You can click here to listen. (To download the audio […]

Davening in Shul or Yeshiva

For the past several years I have been davening Shabbos mornings in one of the local yeshivos. It is comfortable, quiet and my chavrusa sits across from me. Immediately after davening, we learn and I don’t have to involve myself with the inevitable politics that occurs in some shuls. My family and I are also […]

Believing in Yourself

A baal tshuva – or any other Jew with aspirations – needs two primary spiritual resources: Belief in Hashem, and belief in oneself. Many sources speak about the former, but few discuss the importance of the latter. Young BT’s are frequently misled by mistaken concepts of “anava”, or modesty. Hashem doesn’t expect you to walk […]

Making Chanukah Cookies

Growing up, one of my family’s annual traditions was making Chanukah cookies. We would spend an entire day rolling out dough, cutting out shapes and decorating hundreds of cookies. After we were finished making them, we would save some for ourselves and then package up the rest in bundles to give to friends. My parents […]

Chanukah, the Maccabi Games and the Pintele Yid in Each of Us

If you think about it, it’s very ironic. The Maccabees at the time of the miracle of Chanukah were willing to give up their lives to protect their Jewish values. Their adversaries were the Greeks. The Greeks’ worship of the human body was epitomized by the Olympic Games. Here is the irony: Israel has her […]

Some Links to End the Week

Thank G-d that we have been able to share so many ideas and experiences in such a short time. We’ve been told that we’re delivering too much of a good thing too fast. So next week we’ll slow down so we can all digest a little better and get some more interaction and ideas in […]

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

Many of you might remember the classic Spencer Tracy – Katharine Hepburn film of that title in which liberal, social activist parents are shocked by their daughter’s choice of fiancé, a black man played by Sidney Portier. The point of the film is the parents’ hypocrisy, but I’ve often said that the true test of […]

My Non-Jewish Father and My Oh-So-Jewish Mother

When I first became frum, I wanted my parents to completely embrace my new lifestyle and take on the same things I was taking on but they were pretty much indifferent. I later moved away to a predominantly BT neighbourhood where people shared stories with me of parents who had disowned them or continuously fought […]

Towards a Subtler Nonconformity

Rabbi Dovid Schwartz Jewish Heritage Center The majority of the posts and comments on the conformity debate deal with standardization in dress and speech. The basic consensus is that swallowing hard and adopting a bleak conformity is just another of the many sacrifices that we make for integration into the Frum community. Unlike relinquishing, say, […]

Dealing with Non Observant Parents

This issue is one in which I would be shocked if there were not a multitude of approaches and results. However, I think that the best advice that I could give be would be a set of caveats that may or not work for you: 1) Your parents will respect you when they see that […]

HaGaon Rav Yitzchok Hutner Z”TL

Today, 20 Kislev marks the 25th Yahrzeit of one of the towering architects of post-war Jewry, The Chaim Berlin Rosh HaYeshiva and author of Pachad Yitzchok, Rav Yitzchok Hutner Z”TL. Rav Hutner practiced kiruv and inclusivety before they were catchwords and slogans. He created an ambience in Chaim Berlin whereby one gets ahead by yearning […]

The Parent Trap

Why are we always placating, mediating, even apologizing? Why do we have to feel like we’re the ones mucking up family tradition? Why do we always have to explain how it’s really not so hard or different to do things our way? Why must we look the other way or come up with rationalizations for […]

Parents and the Big Picture

The Big Picture always gives me fuel to energize my life. Drawing away from the detailed mundane facts of the situation, and looking at it in higher terms always helps me pull out of my cramped, subjective position, into one where I feel I can (at least somewhat) participate in the injunction “Let Us Make […]

Appreciating Parents as a Foundation for Growth

One of the meanings of Yisrael is that it is a contraction of the words yashar (straight) and G-d’s name, kEl. I once heard this explained in the name of Rabbi Rosenberg z”l, the founder of Machon Shlomo, that one can only truly draw close to G-d by traveling in a straight path. This can […]

A Helpful Eitzah for BTs

It is now time to turn to some of the means that a BT may use in order to survive and, perhaps, benefit from the buffetings described in last week’s posting. Our path towards the Ribbono shel Olam is always fraught with challenges but it is never devoid of the corresponding tools to address them. […]

On Internet Connections

One of our primary goals of this project is to provide connection, information, ideas and support for Baalei Teshuva. A number of people have suggested we also discuss issues effecting the entire Jewish community, perhaps providing some new perspectives. One of the wonders of the Internet is the ease at which we can communicate and […]

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