Posted on | December 8, 2005 | By Kressel Housman | 6 Comments
First let me say that I am thrilled to be here. I have been looking at everyone’s posts, and I’m excited about delving into these issues. May Hashem help us that this group blog is truly in His service.
My name is Kressel. I began my teshuva process about 16 years ago, and IY”H my husband and I will soon celebrate our tenth anniversary. Ours is a mixed marriage. He’s an FFB Stoliner chossid.
Marrying a chossid seemed like a radical step when we were first introduced. I delayed our first date for month to consider it. But when we met, we progressed with lightning speed. We became engaged after three dates a la the Chassidishe formula. I considered my chasunah as a sort of BT graduation ceremony, and walked to my chuppah to Shlomo Carlebach’s “Pischu Li.” By entering the Chassidishe velt, I was sure I was entering the Gates of Righteousness.
A few weeks after our chasunah, life began to take on its normal routine, and we were invited to my sister-in-law’s house for melaveh malka. It was a very ordinary occasion, a small family birthday party for her then-youngest daughter. My sister-in-law’s family are Satmar, more right-wing than we are. As I recited “al netilas yadaim,” I was overwhelmed. It didn’t seem long ago that I was struggling to memorize that bracha, yet there I was, washing alongside my new Chassidishe relatives. It was amazing!
A few years later, I mentioned this incident to my sister-in-law, whom I love dearly. “But we don’t think of you as a baalas teshuva,” she said.
I felt deflated. She didn’t get it. I’m proud to wear the BT label. Maybe to some it means “ignorant newcomer,” a stage to be outgrown, but I prefer the literal meaning, “master of return.” I’ve left behind the secular world and entered the Gates of Righteousness. Yet I understand what my sister-in-law meant. She was complimenting me. It was a sign of my integration into the frum world.
We BTs have many issues facing us, but with Hashem’s help, we’re overcoming them. This question of definitions is not the most life-changing, but it’s an issue for me. Should we wear our label with pride, or should we at some point shed it, as we have our secular backgrounds? When we are so integrated that we are “beyond BT,” does that also mean that we are no longer BT? I leave it for you to discuss.