Beyond BT

Spiritual Growth for Jews

Parents and Community

Posted on | December 18, 2005 | By Rachel Adler | 5 Comments

When I first started becoming frum, I was away at school, and I did not see my parents for the entire semester. I was nervous to tell them about my change of lifestyle, but I had to prepare them, lest I come home and they wonder who I was, and where was their daughter? I first started by telling them that I was keeping Shabbat, and that I wouldn’t pick up the phone if they called me then. Then came kashrut, then came wearing only skirts. I was reluctant to tell them about shomer nagiah (no physical contact between unmarried people of the opposite sex), since my parents had the misconception that only ultra-Orthodox Jews keep that law.

Surprisingly, my parents were very supportive of my decision. I had asked them to start buying kosher meat for me, and products with hekshers as they went grocery shopping so that I’d have food I could eat when I came home for summer break. Right before Passover, my mom IMed me to tell me that they were koshering the kitchen, and buying new dishes! [And then when I found out about toiveling, they were perfectly willing to bring everything to the mikveh…] They also got me in contact with the Providence community, so I’d have a place to stay for Shabbat. [I am increasingly grateful that my parents don’t object to me staying away for Shabbat. My friend who is also a BT has parents who don’t like the fact that he no longer will daven at their Conservative shul, and definitely would not want him to spend Shabbat away from home.]

I think it helps if your parents meet a nice frum community. So they know that you’re not the only one keeping these “archaic” and “obsolete” laws, and that the people who observe them can be relatively “normal.” Maybe they wouldn’t be interested in shuirim or services or Friday night dinners, but there are always things going on during the week. If you’re living in your parents’ home, even if they pick you up after Shabbat and stay for havdallah, it makes a small impact. That’s what has worked for me. Providence, the closest community to my parents’ house, is warm and inviting, and since I’ve become frum, besides hosting me every Shabbat I’m at home, they’ve invited my parents to many Shabbat dinners, so they at least are with me on Friday night.

The community also performed a great Kiddush Hashem this week. Last week my grandfather died. The community volunteered to be shomerim for his body, which couldn’t be buried until after Shabbat. Many of them who didn’t even know my grandfather came to the funeral, and have since been visiting during the week of shiva. They’ve provided a minyan for my dad to say kaddish every morning and evening, and they even brought over the Torah. They’ve come over every day to comfort my dad and grandma, even though they barely know my dad and grandma. My dad said that he was really moved by the way the community has been helping them.

I don’t think this will make my parents observant, but I think now they truly appreciate frumkeit.

Comments

5 Responses to “Parents and Community”

  1. Shirah
    December 18th, 2005 @ 9:11 pm

    Rachel that is a beautiful story, so often we here only of the bad experiences that people have with their parents after becoming frum so it was nice to read something more positive!

  2. Jacky
    December 19th, 2005 @ 7:09 am

    Your parents obviously have a lot of respect for your choices in life, that’s rare.

  3. Eddie Dembitzer
    December 19th, 2005 @ 12:05 pm

    If all parents were like yours…
    the life of the Bt’s would be so much easier and their parents would reap endless nachas instaed of misery.

    You’re fortunate to have such wonderful parents and that’s something that should never be taken for granted. Be sure to express your gratitude to them at every opportunity and continue reaping the benefits.

  4. Rachel Adler
    December 19th, 2005 @ 10:40 pm

    Maybe I should add a bit of context-

    My mom grew up in a leftwing Modern Orthodox house, and my dad grew up Conservative. Of course, they chose to raise my brother and I Reform, and now they’re Reconstructionist [technically I'm a member of a Reconstructionist shul.]

    So I think that’s where part of the understanding comes from [especially with the whole keeping a kosher house thing, though they distinguish between "kosher" and "kosher kosher"] besides their own wonderful personalities.

  5. Kressel Housman
    December 22nd, 2005 @ 6:16 pm

    BS”D

    Baruch Hashem, you’ve got really special parents. I’ve also been blessed with particularly understanding parents, but my mother would never in a million years turn her kitchen kosher for my sake. That’s really a tremendous thing for a parent to do.

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