Beyond BT

Spiritual Growth for Jews

Shidduchim, the Dating Scene at Penn, and the Baalat Teshuva

Posted on | January 3, 2006 | By Rachel Adler | 85 Comments

If you can’t tell by now, I go to a secular university, but one that has a quite large frum population (around 300 including both undergrads and grads). The community is very Modern Orthodox, so shidduchim don’t happen around here so much. We’re all stuck on this campus for four years, and thus if anyone is dating, it is usually another person from within the Penn community. And although 300 is a big number, that means there are about 150 frum people of the opposite gender, and if you take out the people who are taken, and then the people who you would never date, and those that would never date you, it turns into a very small number, which may or may not be equivalent to 0.

I’ve concluded from this analysis that my bashert doesn’t go to Penn. Which is alright with me, since I’m only 20 (almost 21) and still have to graduate. Of course, that also means instead of having a “normal” dating life, where you meet someone you like, decide to date, have a relationship for a while, and then get engaged and married, I probably will be thrown into the scary world of shidduchim. And as someone who still isn’t so comfortable with the idea of being judged by a first meeting, indeed it is a scary concept.

So this still has nothing to do with me being a BT. Or does it? I’ve noticed that in the shidduch world, or even the dating world, BTs have a disadvantage for multiple reasons.

1. They don’t have an array of frum friends from growing up who can introduce them to their friends or friends of friends, who might be dateable. My FFB friends have this resource, and sometimes it has led to relationships and engagements.

2. They don’t have parents who can set them up with people. Ok, my dad once tried to set me up with the one Orthodox guy he knew that was around my age, but it didn’t work out, and that exhausted the reserve of Orthodox guys my parents can set me up with.

3. The stigma of being BT. Not such a big deal in my community, or in the Modern Orthodox world in general, but at the same time, I think there might be something underlying. Part of me wants to marry an FFB, so I can be part of a frum family where I don’t have to be in charge of running the household. When I want a break from Shabbat, we can go visit the in-laws. I can’t help but wonder if other people feel the same way. Maybe FFBs want another in-law family like their own, with Torah values and yirat Hashem.

This only states problems, and not solutions to go with it. I don’t have those, only thoughts. My main thought is the misconception that you need to be in a place with a large number of guys/girls in order to find your bashert. [And the same would go for needing many friends of friends]. You only need to find one person in order to get married, and that person has to be the right person. Me being at Penn with my 150 guys hasn’t brought me any closer to being married. I could perhaps say the same thing about living in Washington Heights for the summer. I hate living in New York (no offense to anyone who loves NY) and I’d like to think my bashert does, too.

Any amount of things that may “hurt your shidduch opportunities” may in fact be helpful ways of narrowing down the dating pool. For example, I once was told that my nose-piercing hurting my chances of a shidduch. I would say that any guy who was bothered by it probably isn’t the type of guy I want to marry, and any community bothered by it isn’t the type of community I want to live in. If guys don’t want a girl with a BA from an ivy-league university, they are probably guys who aren’t worldly enough for me anyways. It can go in both directions.

So don’t get discouraged. People may say things may hurt/help your chances of a shidduch, but in the end, it’s all in the hands of G-d.

Comments

85 Responses to “Shidduchim, the Dating Scene at Penn, and the Baalat Teshuva”

  1. Alter
    January 3rd, 2006 @ 7:46 am

    Rachel,

    You are 100% correct when you say everything is in the hands of Hashem, however he wants us to do our histadlus(effort). Ultimately our effort does nothing to cause the result except for the fact that Hashem wants us to do it. There is no cause and effect, Hashem runs the show( Read Rav Dessler-Strive for Truth,vol.2 for more on this). A person shouldn’t move to the the north pole and say Hashem will give me my shidduch unless of course they are on the level of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. We aren’t allowed to rely on miracles.

    Now granted, going to Penn, wearing a nosering, etc, doesnt necessarily mean relying on miracles but it could be pushing your “mazal”. I just mean that we need to think about the future and not just the moment. We can’t take back certain things. I spoke with a student of mine today and he told me how is older brother “messed up” in life as a kid and now he is angry that at 18 he is paying for it by not being able to get into college. If only he would have realized this at 14, he wouldn’t be in this mess. Granted, he can do “Tsheuva” on it, but not everything is fixable in this world.

    You say now that if the community won’t accept the nosering,etc, then they aren’t for you. However what happens in 3 years if you decide that you have “outgrown” the nosering and you want to join a different type of community. Good or bad, they might remember and be hesitant to accept you. You might argue well then I don’t want to be apart of them then. Forget that. I am not talking principles here,right or wrong, just what the situation will be “on the ground”. I have seen a number of people with tattoos in the mikveh. of course they did that when they weren’t frum, however think of their shame when their kids say , Aba, whats that. Of course you could argue and say it is an excellent opportunity to teach them about Tsheuva. I am sure the person with the tattoo would have preferred not to have that opportunity. (I know a tatoo is assur from the torah and a nosering is not)

    Just remember, people change and where you are in your haskafa today, might not be the same place in 2 years. And you might meet a guy that also came on that journey. There are also ffb’s that were more “modern” at birth so they have a broad education experience and now they have moved more to the “right” so you would definitly be able to be compatible with one of them possibly(he might have a PhD even). Don’t worry, your b’shert is out there somewhere. And you will find him with Hashems help.I highly suggest if you haven’t already, coming to eretz yisrael, to a seminary, for a year to learn. It can be a most uplifting experience.

    Best of Mazal to you.

  2. David
    January 3rd, 2006 @ 8:31 am

    Not only do BT’s not have a large network of friends or parents to help set them up, when they DO try their attempts are often misguided. They have confused ideas of what Orthodoxy is and will often try to set you up with people who aren’t frum who they think are on the same page as you simply because they are more Jewishly involved than the average person.

  3. Anonymous
    January 3rd, 2006 @ 8:47 am

    David

    You’re right. I forgot about the misguided attempts part. I have a BT friend who that has happened to a few times…

  4. Rachel Adler
    January 3rd, 2006 @ 8:49 am

    That last comment, #3, was mine. I forgot to log in.

  5. Rachel Adler
    January 3rd, 2006 @ 9:23 am

    Alter-

    1. The other difference between a tatoo and a nose-ring, besides the issur, is that the nose-ring is removeable, and will close up rather quickly if you remove it.

    2. I actually am in a community that accepts the nose-piercing [which is not a ring, but is a tiny stud with a clear stone], and I like this community a lot. I assume there are communities like this in Israel as well. If I were looking to live in Me’ah She’arim, of course there would be a big issue. But I’m not looking to live there, I’m looking to live in the German Colony area. I’d be davening at Shira Chadasha [among other carlbach-y minyans as well] in all likelihood.

    That would set off some red flags as well, for anyone who thinks Shira Chadasha isn’t actually following halacha. And there are plenty of people who think that. But there are a. lots of guys who go to Shira Chadasha [I’ve been, and you have to walk behind the guys’ side to get to the girls’ side, and the guys’ side is always full] and b. guys who although don’t go there themselves, don’t hold it against women who do go there, and would be perfectly happy to date and marry them.

    If I started dressing like a haredi and stopped talking to guys, and took on that level of observance, I’d also “lower my chances” with any guy who is Modern Orthodox.

    Moving to the right isn’t necessarily the right choice for everyone.

    3. I often wonder why everyone thinks the ultimate goal is getting married. Yes, this is important, but there are other things in life as well. I think I’d rather be single living happily in Israel than married to a guy, stuck in New York, and forced to live a life I don’t want to lead. My friend onced asked me “what if your bashert doesn’t want to make aliyah?”
    I asked back “what if his bashert does want to make aliyah?”

    Everyone has “deal-breakers.” They’re important, and shouldn’t be ignored, because they could potentially lead to unhappy marriages. Wouldn’t a man who was forced to work in a boring job, instead of learning, because his wife didn’t want to work full time be resentful of her? Wouldn’t the resentment then hurt her? Yes, there are people who are kind, and loving, but I think that even the nicest, easygoing people in the world have things that can upset them, and even if someone is quiet and doesn’t want to hurt his/her partner, he/she can’t keep his/her emotions bottled up forever.

    I don’t know if I’d be compatible with an FFB who was raised modern and moved to the right. There might be deal-breakers there on both sides of the fence. Maybe he wants to live in Lakewood.

    I guess the thing is that I have a broader definition of Orthodoxy. I don’t think that going to college and (b’ezrat Hashem) making aliyah are the equivalent of moving to the North Pole, because there are plenty of people who go to college and move to Israel and get married. I know no one in Penn who is afraid that their college education will hurt their shidduch chances. Maybe I am being a little bit defensive here, but I’d like to think that I’m thinking realistically.

  6. yank
    January 3rd, 2006 @ 9:59 am

    All is fine but realize that no matter what you think of it, a nosering (stud whatever) will make 95% of guys (and I’m only talking MO guys) very wary. They may date out of curiosity but won’t want to (a) be the guy who married the weird BT with the nose ring and (b) take a chance that the nosering indicates other more fundamental ‘issues’.

    real individuality is INSIDE. I’d strongly consider ditching the nose ring. Your kids will be very embarrassed by it anyway and will want you to ditch it no matter where you live.

  7. YM
    January 3rd, 2006 @ 11:14 am

    Rachel,

    I disagree with Yank and think your general approach is fine. If you know who you are, and accept the validity of who you are within the frum context, you should be fine. And as a intellegent, well-educated person, you should be successful at keeping your eyes wide open and being flexible as far as taking the opportunities that come your way to grow closer to Hashem. Hashem should bless you with chuppah b’shah tovah.

    As far as being single verusu married, I think that for most people, the two life situations that present the most opportunity for enjoyment and opportunity that are almost always dreaded, not enjoyed, and not well-utilized are unemployment and singlehood. The trick is to desire to be married, making hishtadlus to be married, but being happy doing hashems will as a yachid, and enjoying the many benefits of being single while they last. (Same for unemployement)

  8. Tal Benschar
    January 3rd, 2006 @ 11:14 am

    One thing which puzzles me about the post is the presumption that one can only date on campus. Has the train stopped running from Philly to NY? Are there no social events in NY you could attend?

  9. Rachel Adler
    January 3rd, 2006 @ 12:12 pm

    Yes, the train still runs. Yes it would be pretty easy to get there. Even the 2.5 hour trip each way isn’t so bad, since I could crochet on the train.

    I guess it’s just a Penn mentality. Most people date people on campus. Some people do date people from other places. It’s just not as common, and not as convenient.

  10. Yaakov Astor
    January 3rd, 2006 @ 1:13 pm

    ALTER,

    Good comment, but could you please find the RETURN key on your keyboard and break up your comments into paragraphs. Give our eyes a break. ;-)

    Rachel,

    I often wonder why everyone thinks the ultimate goal is getting married. Yes, this is important, but there are other things in life as well. I think I’d rather be single living happily in Israel than married to a guy, stuck in New York, and forced to live a life I don’t want to lead.

    I think this is very insightful. However, you have to realize that as time goes on the “alone” option for many people is by definition less and less likely to come along with the adjective “happy,” whether in Israel or Oshkosh. For single BT women, especially, things tend to change as they perceive the end of tunnel of their child-bearing years, i.e. typically around 30-something.

    You see, the real question is: Can I live forever happily alone is Israel? The answer may very well be, Yes. However, I know of financially and/or culturally independent women who have been going along quite happily until they approach 30 (or thereabouts). Then they suddenly feel the pinch in terms of child-bearing years and in terms of their looks.

    I am very big on NOT pressuing people when it comes to marriage (and other things). And, BH, it sounds like you have plenty of time before you reach age 30 or whatever age it is when the picture begins to change. I’m just saying the choice between happily-single in Israel or unhappily married in NY is often not the choice. It can become much more complex as time goes on and that dreaded word, “compromise,” comes into play.

    Having said that, for God’s sake don’t marry anyone in any situation you think you will be unhappy in!

    My friend onced asked me “what if your bashert doesn’t want to make aliyah?”
    I asked back “what if his bashert does want to make aliyah?”

    So, what do you do then? Is it a “deal-breaker”?

  11. Mark Frankel
    January 3rd, 2006 @ 1:31 pm

    I broke above Alter’s comment as per Yaakov’s sugggestion.

    Rachel, you’re an amazing person, but don’t sell yourself short. Where you are today, is hopefully not where you’ll be tomorrow.

    When it comes to the Judaism market, BTs are the definitive GROWTH stock.

  12. Mark Frankel
    January 3rd, 2006 @ 1:49 pm

    Yaakov

    You mentioned the dreaded word compromise. In a shiur to singles in Kew Gardens Hill, Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller pointed out that everybody compromises. Why is that? Because nobody is perfect. However, you do have to determine in what areas you won’t compromise.

    I highly recommend listening to the the mp3 from Rebbetzin Heller’s shiur on Singles which is available here.

    (There are also two other mp3’s, one on Community and one on Teenagers. All of them are fantastic. They’ re coming off the site at the end of this week so don’t delay.)

  13. Rachel Adler
    January 3rd, 2006 @ 5:52 pm

    Yaakov,

    For me, a guy not wanting to make aliyah would be a “deal breaker.” I want to be an archaeologist. I want to get a PHD, or at least a Master’s degree, and I want to do that in Israel. I’m pretty much making aliyah as soon as I graduate. Unless I meet someone in the next year and a half it won’t be an issue, since I’ll be in Israel by then.

    Compromise then could be where in Israel to live. It’s a tiny country, yet it’s full of so many different types of places. I know people who are convinced that they must live in Hevron, or Jerusalem, or the Gush. That attitude would be making things much harder on yourself.

  14. Josh
    January 3rd, 2006 @ 5:58 pm

    Alter:

    I failed out of a Jewish day school at 16 and graduated from an Ivy League college at 22. Perhaps some rare things in this life aren’t fixable, but doing poorly in school or wearing a nose stud or not going to seminary are not among them. (Assuming you even see these three things as things which need to be “fixed”.)

    Yank:

    I agree, real individuality is inside. Which is why Rachel should keep the nose stud if it’s what her insides are telling her to do, and she shouldn’t get rid of it just because all of us outsiders suggest it. Though I hope you’re right with the rest of what you said. What a quick way to weed out 95% of people who aren’t your bashert!

  15. Kressel Housman
    January 3rd, 2006 @ 8:42 pm

    BS”D

    You have the right attitude. Hashem can and will send your bashert to you at the right time.

    As for the lack of “shidduchim” networks for BTs, there are efforts to make up for our lacks. I’ve read about “shidduichim mentors,” people who counsel others through the process of figuring out whether they’re dating the right one, are they moving too quickly, etc. They’re objective outsiders, not the shadchanim, so they really want to see what’s best for you. I wish I knew more details than that.

  16. Kressel Housman
    January 3rd, 2006 @ 8:43 pm

    Oh, and may Hashem send your bashert to you b’shaah tovah!

  17. Leah
    January 3rd, 2006 @ 9:49 pm

    Hi,

    I just came across this site and have been reading with avid interest (instead of working on the paper I have to submit tomorrow). I thought I would mention a resource that, while not specifically geared toward b”ts, is probably doing a lot to narrow the b”t shidduch “disadvantage”: sawyouatsinai.com. It’s a dating website where only matchmakers can look through singles’ profiles and suggest matches; old-fashioned shadchanus using 21st century technology.

    Because of how detailed you can make your profile, you can work with matchmakers you don’t know. Also, the way it is set up makes it both more private and less wasteful of your time than sites like frumster (not that there’s anything wrong with frumster, it’s just a different way of doing things). And their success rate is pretty good. Check it out.

    — Leah

  18. Ezzie
    January 4th, 2006 @ 12:46 am

    “Be yourself, because the people who care don’t matter, and the people who matter don’t care.” – My wife, before our second date.

    I believe Dr. Seuss said something similar. :)

    Rachel, you’ll be fine (bezH).

  19. Alter
    January 4th, 2006 @ 1:37 am

    I apologize to all about the paragraphs. Just got lazy i guess.
    Rachel,

    Making aliyah is a beautiful thing. I have a degree in archaeology. I have often thought of going back and getting my phd in it to complement my outreach work however I figure it isn’t worth it for what I want to do. You should just go into things knowing the facts.
    Look into the university system here in Israel. You’ll find the graduate programs are extremely “well guarded” and they don’t give out degrees easily( even if you get the right amount of credits-it is called protexia here.) I just want you to be aware.

    In terms of the nose ring, again, I realize it can close up, however what about the people who meet you along the way who will remember. Lots of things are phases. We all have gone through them. The wisest people have enough foresight to decide which phase to enter and which one is not a necessity.

    Josh- I realise that people can fail out of school and make it up. The student whom i was talking about obviously is suffering because all his friends have passed their matriculation exams and he didn’t. He is angry and fustrated. Now, hopefully this will turn him around however many people dont and just fade away. Of course you can fix anything but can you? You can redirect yourself, you can’t make up for lost time. Time is irreplaceable. if we live for a 120 years, we will have 63,072,000 minutes in our life. Every minute lost from learning, mitzvahs can not be replaced. Granted, you sometimes need to fall in order to get up, but we hope and pray for divine assistance to helpus avoid those losses. Remember, we don’t know when the last quarter is. We don’t often get the 2 minute warning. We always want to be ahead instead of playing catchup. The past is done,it can’t be changed, now lets make that brighter present and future.

    We should always realize that serving Hashem is about serving him utilizing the best of our abilities, however not according to what we think he wants but to what the torah wants from us. Asei licha Rav(or Rebbetzin).( Find your self a Rav or rebbetzin and then fly with it.)

  20. Alter
    January 4th, 2006 @ 1:53 am

    Rachel,
    One last comment for now. You mentioned a minyan named shira chadasha and issues of halacha. I looked into what they do a little. My only comment is what they allow in the shul, Reb Shlomo never allowed in his shul so that should say it all. Remember, the hassidim are supposed to follow their Rebbi, that is what makes them Hassidim.

  21. William Faulkner
    January 4th, 2006 @ 3:14 pm

    Alter- u wrote “The past is done,it can’t be changed, now lets make that brighter present and future.”

    I say: ‘The past isn’t dead. It isn’t even past.’

    Which of us do u think has the truer T’shuva sensibility?

  22. David Linn
    January 4th, 2006 @ 3:18 pm

    William:

    With your background, why don’t you throw up a comment on the Survival Kit post. No self-nominating!

  23. Gershon Seif
    January 4th, 2006 @ 3:24 pm

    That’s pretty funny. William Falkner died in 1962 – but the William Falkner website has that quote on the front page by Gavin Stevens… William, you aren’t really Gavin Stevens are you?

  24. William Faulkner
    January 4th, 2006 @ 3:41 pm

    I created Stevens! He is my mouthpiece. As for my …ahem Yohrzeit, as my old buddie Sam Clemens said “the rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated.” More to the point I repeat ” ‘The past isn’t dead. “

  25. Kressel Housman
    January 4th, 2006 @ 3:42 pm

    Hey, Will, kill all your darlings!

  26. Alter
    January 4th, 2006 @ 3:43 pm

    William,
    If your statement is true, then please tell the victim of a murder or other crime that it never really happened. Sorry my friend, we can’t change the past, however we can regret and try to make the future choices better. There is brought down the concept of someone who does complete Tsheuva who can turn their aveiras into mitzvahs however it still doesn’t change the facts of the past. You might want to say that if someone does complete Tsheusva then they become a different person altogether however once again the past remains the past.
    kol Tuv

  27. Anonymous
    January 4th, 2006 @ 3:51 pm

    “then please tell the victim of a murder or other crime that it never really happened. ”

    Is this Rabenu Yonah… or Sgt. Joe Friday?

  28. Susanne
    January 4th, 2006 @ 5:32 pm

    Props Rachel. I think all of us share very similiar worries. I’m glad you spoke up!

  29. Shoshi
    January 5th, 2006 @ 2:38 am

    Rachel,

    Shira Chadasha is a lovely community, as is the whole Moshava/Baka/Katamon area. I lived there for 4 years. You will be in good company. There is plenty of diversity in the Modern Orthdox/Dati Leumi scene there, English-speakers, Israelis, other foreigners, women who cover their hair and women who wear tank tops. (I am talking about the Orthodox people there.) You will not be out of place with a nose ring. Check out Nachlaot too. Slightly different scene, and only a mile or two away.
    Trust me, you won’t lack for dates because you have a nosering. Some will consider it a plus because it shows your individuality.
    If your future kids are embarrassed by it, then take it out. What’s the big deal?

    As for archaology: why not pursue it in Israel? All you can do is try. After you make aliyah the Israeli government will pay for tuition for a Master’s degree for you, as long as you are under the age of 30.
    It’s hard to make a living in any field in Israel, but you will feel your way through it, just like every immigrant and native Israeli does.

    B’hatzlacha!

  30. yank
    January 5th, 2006 @ 3:27 am

    wish you well but idea that you can live happily with a nose ring in ANY orthodox community and not have serious repurcussions is NAIVE.

    Part of Tzniut – men and women – is NOT drawing attention to oneself. In our communities, this is the opposite.
    Re: the comment that indiv is from the inside. No. more than that. External standing out is usually a BLOCK towards real individuality. Besides, in a separate vein, she didn’t wake up one morning and come up with this from Heaven – it is not really individualistic – wearing a nose ring is an identification with a certain subculture and group.

    Why recommend this? Doesn’t help true individuality at all, probably harms it, will tremendously hurt your chances of dating success, make you stand out, and embarass your kids. Is it worth it?

  31. Shoshi
    January 5th, 2006 @ 5:44 am

    This previous comment is simply not true.
    In the Modern Orthodox community in Jerusalem one can certainly “live happily with a nosering “.

    In fact, tzniut in general is emphasized to varying degrees depending on which orthodox community one is talking about.

    Many Orthodox Jews I know in the neighborhood of Jerusalem Rachel is talking about wear pants, men and women.
    On religious kibbutzim in Israel women also wear pants.
    Tzniut is simply not as emphasized in these communities.
    I’m not saying that women show up for shul in shorts and a tube top, but in everyday life in several modern Orthodox neighborhoods of Jerusalem, women can basically wear whatever they want and not worry about being excluded from their community.
    There are also schools where their children will be accepted no matter what mommy and daddy wear. And no matter if mommy has a nosering.
    It sounds like those are the communities that Rachel will feel more comfortable in, in any case.

  32. yank
    January 5th, 2006 @ 9:15 am

    Funny how Shoshi ignored

    (a) the line that thinking wearing a nosering as an Orthodox woman will ‘not have serious repurcussions is NAIVE.’ (b) the whole point of the HIGH Torah value of NOT trying to get attention, rather focussing on the internal (c) the idea that wearing a nosering is not really individualistic at all, rather identifying with a cultural trend and sub-community and (d) the idea that with all the difficulties it will incur (and Shoshi do you really want to advise this young woman that there won’t be serious ones, like people staring at her as she walks down the street and the other ones mentioned in my previous post) one has to ask – is it really worth it?

    these are the core points.

    I react strongly becoz advice like Shoshi’s in the long term tends to harm people. ie make new BT’s think that they can do whatever they want when the truth is that they can’t.

    There are some minor points that are better yielded. You have to pick your battles in life and I doubt very much that wearing a nosering is one of the more important ones

  33. LC
    January 5th, 2006 @ 10:12 am

    As far as the original issue of being a BT and shidduchim “networking” possibilities, it all depends on who you are and where you land once you join the “real” adult world – in your own home, joining a shul that isn’t all transient students, etc.

    As a BT during HS, I got my BS, spent a year learning in E”Y, then moved to a new city for my Masters. I did some shul hopping, meeting friendly people along the way, finally settling into the shul where I was happeist, and the friends (singles AND families) who fit most comfortably.

    And had my husband (FFB) suggested to me by no less than 4 different local sources before we went out.

    Maybe I’m the exception to the standard case, but I had been living here about 6 months the first time it came up, and everyone here knew me as relatively “settled” in my Yiddishkeit, perfectly comfortable with Shabbos, yom tovim, kashrus, shiurim where not all the words were traslated – which I still noticed, but usually didn’t need, B”H.

    As far as Part of me wants to marry an FFB, so I can be part of a frum family where I don’t have to be in charge of running the household. When I want a break from Shabbat, we can go visit the in-laws. goes, if you’re the “balabusta”, you WILL be in charge of running your own household. There aren’t too many independent women who really want their MIL running their home. And take-out works well for the rare occasion that you need a break from the kitchen stuff.

    But frum grandparents for the kids (IY”H) is a very nice thing, as is the feeling that you’ve been “accepted” completely. (I definitely have a smoother relationship with my MIL than my SIL does, and she grew up MO – with classmates who were my NCSY advisors! There’s a lot more to it that BT/FFB.)

    Good luck, and may your journey be as smooth as mine – I was *not* dealing with NY shadchanim. One of my big issues while becoming frum was the distinction made between blind dates, and shiduchim. but IMHO, a shadchan who doesn’t know you otherwise can only set you up on quasi-blind dates.

  34. Shoshi
    January 5th, 2006 @ 12:44 pm

    Yank,

    People in Jerusalem won’t stare at Rachel on the street because she has a small nosering. Trust me.

    Shoshi

  35. Alter
    January 5th, 2006 @ 1:48 pm

    Shoshi,
    I have to comment that I think some of the people have been giving Rachel advice interms of how the torah outlook is on Tznius, etc whereas you have been looking at the situation from a very practical standpoint.
    I must comment however that you said shira chadasha is a lovely community as well as the rest of the neighborhood etc. 1st of all,after seeing info on them interms of what they practice there I am sorry to say I can’t call a synagogue that goes against halacha( in terms of woman’s issues,atleast according to most rabbanim) is a lovely community.
    #2 You mentioned orthodox people dressing less modestly and used the phrase “Tzniut is simply not as emphasized in these communities.” Could you imagine if we spoke about kashrut and other halachas that way. Oh that community doesn’t emphasize kashrut, etc.. I thought we understand them to be not religious. Tsnius and all that it encompasses is halacha and many halachic rules come into play which are or could lead to issurim min hatorah. I consider that pretty serious business.
    I understand we need to have positive outlooks however we must also call a spade a spade when we see it. Judaism is about serving Hashem and truth. It is not another “feel good” fad of the day. With it comes obligations. One of them is tsnius by both men and women.

  36. Shoshi
    January 5th, 2006 @ 2:12 pm

    Look, tzniut is not kashrut or shabbat.
    You have to realize that every community has its own minhag.
    Not every orthdox Jew or BT is haredi.
    Rachel clearly is not.
    As a non-haredi Jew in Jerusalem she will be accepted with a nosering.
    That is all I am saying.

  37. Shoshi
    January 5th, 2006 @ 2:22 pm

    In any case, we have established that a nosering is not against halacha.
    And not against the halacha of tzniut.
    So why is there any debate at all?

  38. Rachel Adler
    January 5th, 2006 @ 10:10 pm

    A clarification that I hope will be helpful:

    I think everyone is debating an issue of Dat Moshe and Dat Yehudit, and all have different definitions of the word “tzenua.”

    Dat yehudit is halacha, but it varies in different communities. If I walked into Hillel during the week wearing a bright pink swearer, I would be fine by my school’s standards, and would be following dat yehudit and dat moshe. but if I walked into meah she’arim wearing a pink sweater, I might be violating their dat yehudit, but still according to the letter of the law would be tzenua.

    According to Dat Moshe, a nose peircing is fine. According to dat yehudit, at UPenn, in nachlaot, in catamon, the nose piercing is also fine. The problem lies with dat yehudit and more right-wing communities. Here, dat yehudit would dictate that a nose piercing would draw undue attention. Hence it, it is “untzenua.”

    But it’s untzenua in the relative sense, not the absolute [because Rivkah Immeinu would never break the Torah!]. So in a community where it would not draw undue attention, (like my own) a nose piercing would be tzenua.

    I myself would maintain that pants would fall into the same category as the nose piercing, but I recognize that not many rabbis would support that idea. So I’m not going to debate the issue.

  39. Rachel Adler
    January 5th, 2006 @ 10:18 pm

    Yank-

    You said:
    Besides, in a separate vein, she didn’t wake up one morning and come up with this from Heaven – it is not really individualistic – wearing a nose ring is an identification with a certain subculture and group.

    I actually didn’t come up with the idea in order to identify with a certain subculture/group. I originally wanted it because I thought it would look cool [and I still think it does, obviously most people commenting here would disagree, even though none of you have actually seen it] None of my friends in my public high school had one, and the only person who I knew that had one, (that is, that I knew of at the time of me getting mine) was a fellow BT. So I’m not trying to be punk/goth/whatever. If I wanted to do that, I could dye my hair turquoise again! [Which I don’t plan on doing.]

  40. Kressel Housman
    January 6th, 2006 @ 12:29 pm

    If you came to me for a Shabbos, which I hope you will do again, would you take out the nose ring for shul or would you just endure the double-takes?

  41. Rachel Adler
    January 6th, 2006 @ 12:55 pm

    Kressel-

    Neither. I would get a clear spacer and put that in, so unless you were actually looking for it, you wouldn’t be able to tell I had a nose-ring. Taking it out for shul would probably cause it to close up, but I don’t want to make a statement to/offend anyone in your community or anything.

    Actually, I suppose that could be a compromise for anywhere. Use the spacer when going to places where people would notice and care, and wear the regular nose-ring when I’m at home, or in a place where it doesn’t matter.

  42. Kressel Housman
    January 7th, 2006 @ 9:49 pm

    Oh, good! So come the Shabbos before the melaveh malkah!

  43. Rachel Adler
    January 8th, 2006 @ 1:19 pm

    sounds like a plan.

  44. Eddie Dembitzer
    January 9th, 2006 @ 11:56 am

    Rachel,

    As I posted earlier, I couldn’t agree with Yank more. You may love the way you look in the Nosering but to think that you’ll be comfortable [not to mention how your kids will feel] in just about any mainstream Ortho community is insane.
    It may not be technically forbidden but it won’t eanr you any extra Shabbos invites, people won’t have you join them for carpool, send their kids over for babysitting, allow their kids to play with your in your home, etc. etc. etc.
    Maybe they’re all nuts and racists but that’s the fact and anyone who tells you differently is doing you a great disservice.
    BT’s inherently are different in many ways from FFB’s and those differences are almost impossible to hide [and maybe there’s no need to] but you certainly don’t want to accentuate your differentness by doing things that are not only not done in FFB circles, but are radically out of step with them.
    It’s about much more than just the guy you want to marry.

  45. Shoshi
    January 9th, 2006 @ 12:23 pm

    Why do people not seem to realize that in some Modern Orthodox communities (i.e., the Upper West Side, Katamon/Baka/German Colony in Jerusalem), including the one that the writer would like to live in, as nose ring IS acceptable?
    In these communities, it is perfectly acceptable, mainstream, etc.
    She is not haredi. She does not want to fit into Har Nof or Kew Garden Hills or Flatbush.

  46. Sarah Newcomb
    January 9th, 2006 @ 12:59 pm

    Shoshi:

    Sometimes we have to think about more than where we think we want to live at a single, young age.Although I have never seen a nosering on the Upper West Side, it really doesn’t matter. I have friends who 20 years ago dyed their hair colors, had unusual hairstyles, clothing, 6 earrings on one earlobe, all kinds of things who now as mothers, professionals, Rebbetzins, regret it. Why? Because people who knew them then remember. There may be photographs taken which still exist. They definitely do not want their children, colleagues, students to know about this past appearance and if there are photos or videos, there is nothing they can do about it. That goes for memories as well. If they go for a job as a teacher, or a shidduch for their children, things surface. Even if they live happily in a community where noserings are indeed welcome, they sometimes will have to go out of the community for work, schools for kids, all kinds of settings where these things will be judged, for better or for worse. As responsible adults, we do have to think ahead. This issue is way beyond Rachel’s nosering. I am sure Rachel will make the right decision for herself, as she seems like a thoughtful, reflective and sincere person.

  47. Kressel Housman
    January 9th, 2006 @ 1:24 pm

    To Eddie Dembitzer,

    If you read a few posts before yours, you will see that I’ve invited Rachel for a Shabbos, and I live in a right-wing section of Monsey.

  48. Sarah Newcomb
    January 9th, 2006 @ 1:30 pm

    Kressel: Where do you live? I’ve been looking around in Monsey, getting to know the different areas a little. Any good advice?
    Thanks

  49. Eddie Dembitzer
    January 9th, 2006 @ 4:50 pm

    To Kressel & Shoshi,

    Kressel:
    I noticed that you invited her but ONLY after she promised to remove it before coming to your house. That only proves my point.You would never risk exposing your children to the sight of a nosering if you could help and neither would most others.
    Furthermore, I have a sneaking suspicion that if she lived right around the corner from you and there was strong likelyhood that your children would see during the week with the NR you woul not invite her at all.

    Shoshi,
    I know about the communities of which you speak and even in those haunts, there’s not exactly a proliferation of NR’s. I’ve lived in NY, two cities in the Midwest, Israel, and lectured in cities across the country and I will tell you without hesitation that nowhere is it mainstream to sport a NR among observant Jews. Her children will be unbelievably embarrassed and suffer socially.
    The communitiy in which I currently reside is largely made up of BT’s. We have schools of every variety, kollel’s and Yong Israel’s etc. I am very active in the community and know almost everyone. There isn’t a single person who wears a NR in the entire comminity! Why would you encourage someone to do so when you know very well that in only a few locales anywhere it’s not considered bizarre? You’re not doing Rachel a favor by supporting her decision.
    Try this and then you’ll know how you really feel. Imagine you’re daughter came home one day with a NR and after you were revived she reassured you that she intends to live in Katamon. Would that be the end of the conversation?
    I have no monkey in this race. I work in outreach and my students all know how important it is for them to be who they are etc. but they also learn how important it is not to do things that make them look wierd.

  50. Kressel Housman
    January 9th, 2006 @ 8:22 pm

    I would have invited her anyway. That’s why I asked if she could endure the double-takes.

  51. Josh
    January 9th, 2006 @ 8:30 pm

    Sarah/Eddie/Yank/etc.:

    You seem to be equating changing one’s mind with regretting the way one thought originally. If Rachel decides one day that she’s no longer the nose-ring type, and she takes out the ring for good, why must she necessarily regret the fact that she ever wore it? When we change our mind about something, it’s usually a reflection of growth, and it’s usually a form of growth that we wouldn’t have achieved without that past behavior. Post-nose-ring Rachel, if she ever exists, will be a different person than never-had-a-nose-ring Rachel would have been, and it’s not for us to say which is better.

    More to the point, allow me to temporarily grant that it’s acceptable to treat someone differently for purposes of carpooling and their kid’s shidduchim, among other things, because they have a nose ring. Are you saying that people will treat this hypothetical post-ring Rachel the same way they’d treat currently-wearing-a-nose-ring Rachel? And that that’s okay? It seems awfully disrespectful, not to mention flying in the face of the entire concept of teshuvah. If one shouldn’t treat a convert differently than a born Jew, how much more so would it be wrong to treat someone differently because of a former piercing, something surely less important than a former religion?

  52. Kressel Housman
    January 9th, 2006 @ 10:52 pm

    Sarah,

    You’re looking to move here? It really depends what you want. I live in “the heart of town” so my husband could be in walking distance of our shul. That means I overpaid for my house. You can get more for your money in areas like Forshay or Besen or Bates. It really depends on whether or not you have a specific shul and community you want to join.

  53. Sarah Newcomb
    January 10th, 2006 @ 11:20 am

    Josh:

    You are right, and I’m not saying it is okay to treat someone differently due to things they did previously. What I am saying is that we are all imperfect and therefore we do remember people as they “were” or things about them, especially things that are “unusual”. I am forty now and people still remember things about me from 20 years ago. When I see someone I haven’t seen in a long time, at a simcha maybe or in another town or state or country, they may even say “Remember when you were vegetarian because you were into animal rights” or to some others “captain of the football team” or “in a rock band”, or a myriad of other things people may remember, or have in photographs or videos. That is the simple reality. Although I try not to judge people or treat them any differently as they go through their changes as well, I can’t honestly say I don’t remember how they looked, acted, what they did, valued, etc.. Images are hard to forget. Not that we have to bring it up, but it’s there in our minds and memories, a roshem implanted. Which is why we may act with surprise when we hear that a person is now a Morah, Rebbe, Rabbi, Rebbetzin, outreach leader. We may be happy and proud of them. But we may think twice when it comes to a shidduch for them, a shidduch for their kids with our kids, a teacher of our kids, many thoughts come up. I worried about this when my son was applying to Yeshiva high schools, and especially with dorming situations, we knew we were going to be “checked out” given the kind of schools they were. When something is public like an “appearance change” it’s harder than when someone does something in private, maybe only a few people know, no photos, hopefully they will work it out. That is the harsh reality. May we all come to the right choices at the right time.

  54. David Linn
    January 10th, 2006 @ 11:33 am

    Cute story:

    My brother-in-law is in kiruv in Brazil. One time, they had a guy for a shabbos meal who had an earring. My nephew, five years old at the time, said (at full volume) “Look, Abba, that man has an earring!” My brother-in-law, a bit embarrassed, said “It’s OK Shmuely.” Shmuely replied : “It’s OK? Can I get one?”

  55. yank
    January 10th, 2006 @ 12:43 pm

    Shoshi – I lived in Jerusalem for many many years and only recently left. I know the Katamon community well. I know the Upper West Side well. Even in those MO communities, it is NOT MAINSTREAM at all to have an NR. She’ll decide but many of us online who DO know the places you are talking about disagree strongly as to your characterization. Many comments above speak out the effects on marriage kids personal growth etc. Again, is it worth it?

  56. Alan
    January 10th, 2006 @ 3:38 pm

    Among my college-age friends in religious Baltimore and Silver Spring, Maryland, are about 4 girls/women with small, attractive nose-piercings.

    Two are *extremely well respected* in their communities for their creativity, caring, passion for Yahadut, and chesed.

    While some people may look and think that atypical necesarily equals bad, most of the frum Jews these friends of mine come in contact with clearly see this style of adornment as just another self-expression, along with what kind of skirt to wear, or what type of headcovering a married woman chooses.

  57. Eddie Dembitzer
    January 10th, 2006 @ 4:07 pm

    Kressel,

    While you obviously feel differently than many [could it have something to do with your own background?] even you warned her against the bouble takes she’d experience in Monsey which is not exactly insulated against this kind of behaviour. In my Midwestern city where many BT’s live, there are many mainstream families that ask me a million questions about the appearance of a potential BT that I try to send htem for a Shabbos meal. Deny it all you wish but it’s not looked upon kindly in most, if not all, frum communities and you’re doing Rachel a disservice by encouraging it.

    There are many more acceptable ways to express individuality that don’t have quite the impact that a nosering has.

    Josh,

    Of course, people can change and when they do, they’re past is forgotten in the eyes of Hashem but we’re not God and in all likelyhood people will remember the NR [since it is quite out of the mainstream] and there’ll be repurcussions.

    Imagine if the son of the bully at school who gave you many a beating would be suggested to your oldest daughter. Don’t you think you’d give the bully’s past at least some consideration? How about if he was still a bully at age 21?

    Rachel is 21 and the ring won’t soon be forgotten. I’m sure she has a sterling character and is highly commited to Torah and Hashem but it’s a shame that she chooses to make that aspect of her difficult to see because of a ring dangling from her nostrils.

  58. Alan
    January 10th, 2006 @ 4:14 pm

    Translation for many of these comments:

    “Be individual! We looooove individuals! Just be individuals *OUR* way. You wouldn’t want to force us to judge you badly because we’ve already decided we don’t like the kind of individual you are, would you??”

    It’s tragic that there are communities out there where people are so provincial and judgemental that an accesory which is perfectly halachically OK is reacted to as if it were avoda zara. I’m glad that my frum community isn’t like that.

  59. Kressel Housman
    January 10th, 2006 @ 5:40 pm

    Eddie,

    I have neither encouraged nor discouraged Rachel’s nosering. One thing I do know is that we are supposed to love all Jews regardless of their physical or philosophical differences to us.

  60. Kressel Housman
    January 10th, 2006 @ 5:43 pm

    Eddie,

    Also, your form of discouragement hasn’t helped her. Her feelings are hurt. As you may recall, tochacha is best given privately, softly, and with the recipient’s best interests in mind.

  61. Josh
    January 10th, 2006 @ 6:11 pm

    What I’m hearing is, “It’s not right to judge people in the way we’re talking about. But some people will do it anyway. So rather than criticizing these people for such judgement, we instead suggest that Rachel take every step she can to avoid this judgement. She should do this even to the point of sacrificing an aspect of her individuality that was explicitly permitted by her rabbi.”

    I’m not Orthodox, and now I’m glad I’m not. I wouldn’t want to be in the sort of community that either has as many of these judgemental people as you’re implying, or else has people like you who silently condone their behavior. If I weren’t familiar with occasional positive aspects of the Orthodox world, and largely positive Orthodox communities, I’d be turned off entirely by this conversation. As it is, I’m unlikely to read much of this website in the future.

  62. Mark Frankel
    January 10th, 2006 @ 6:33 pm

    Josh – I think if you look closely, you’ll see that every community has standards. In fact U.S .law recognizes this in determining what might be considered obscene in a given community.

    In any community, violating those standards will have consequences and that is the point the commentors here are trying to make.

    Judging people is a nuanced issue as is illustrated by you stating your aversion to judging and then proceeding to judge the commentors in this thread and the entire Orthodox world.

    Orthodox communities definitely set higher standards of behavior and are certainly not perfect in the judging issue. But when you become a member of one, you will see unbelievable levels of caring and concern for all the people of the community.

    Even in this thread, it is my heartfelt belief that everybody here cares about Rachel and are trying to give her advice based on their experience and understanding of Torah and it’s practioneers. At least that’s my judgement of the issue.

  63. Sarah Newcomb
    January 10th, 2006 @ 6:58 pm

    Alan and Josh:

    We really appreciate your comments, and we do not all have to agree. Just respect one another’s opinions. So we don’t feel the same way. This is not really a unique issue to Orthodox communities. The truth is, were Rachel or anybody for that matter or any color, background, ethnicity, apply for work in certain fields with a nosering at their interview, they would be judged by it and not hired. All peoples have some form of “uniforms” or “uniformity” so to speak of what is acceptable in certain settings. There are black tie affairs, restaurants which will not allow someone in without jackets and shoes, catholic schools which have strict uniform regulations and rules about other aspects of students appearance, army and navy codes of appearance, companies who do not allow beards, and many professions where certain ways of dress or noserings or hairstyles are not acceptable. I was once fired from a temporary job placement at a multi-million dollar fashion designer’s office because my nails were not “manicured”. They explicitly told the temp agency that was the reason. This issue is not unique to orthodoxy.

  64. Rachel Adler
    January 10th, 2006 @ 7:43 pm

    To everyone, or mostly everyone:

    (This might come out a little harsh. It’s not meant that way, but I felt that I needed to speak up.)

    1. As I’ve said many times, my nose-ring does not dangle. It is a small stud, maybe a millimeter in diameter, and it really really really is not noticable, unless you’re up close to me or know to look for it. Obviously since none [ok none minus 4] of you have actually seen me in person or have had a conversation with me, it’s probably the most noticable part of my online manifestation. But this is all out of proportion.

    I’m 99% sure that when people see me [at least at Penn] they see a nice frum girl who cares about her community and serves on many committees and makes deli-roll and has ginormous meals and invites everyone she can and has tons of friends. Sure, I have my flaws, but overall I’m a good person, and the tiny speck of a nose piercing is only a miniscule part of all that.

    2. Having a nose peircing is very different than being a school bully. It is. And many of BTs seem somewhat ashamed of past aspects of their personalities, like having been in a rock band or a vegetarian or a scuba diver or a kung-fu instructor. I don’t think any of these things are something to be ashamed of. They might not be “frum” but they certainly aren’t bad in and of themselves. So I don’t see why there’s all this negative judgement going around.

    3. If it were the case that I met a guy, and I liked him, and he liked everything about me except the piercing, and that was the only barrier to us getting married, don’t you think he’d tell me? If it did happen that way, I would take it out. Gladly, without hesitation.
    However, that’s not the case at the moment. I’m not a mother with kids who are embarrassed, I’m not trying to find carpools, I’m not trying to get my kids married off.

    4. I haven’t received any less invites since I got the piercing. Even in Providence, where the community is Yeshivish and no one else has a nose-piercing.

  65. MRN
    January 10th, 2006 @ 8:44 pm

    Rachel, you haven’t told us why you want to keep the nose ring. What message do you think it sends to non-Jews, non-orthodox Jews, and Orthodox Jews?

  66. Rachel Adler
    January 10th, 2006 @ 8:58 pm

    MRN

    I’m not trying to send a message. I think it looks nice. I honestly do.

  67. Aaron
    January 10th, 2006 @ 9:29 pm

    It seems like you’re mostly looking for people who grew up orthodox. If you’re so open-minded as to have a nose-ring, I would think that you’d be more interested in dating other Baal Teshuva.
    As for your point about Baal Teshuva having a harder time in the dating scene… it’s definetly true from a male’s point of view also. Especially as a Modern Orthodox BT, people always treat you like you’re “sort of frum”.

  68. Rachel Adler
    January 10th, 2006 @ 9:34 pm

    Aaron-

    I’m definitely open to dating other baalei teshuva, I’m open to dating FFBs. I don’t really care either way, really it’s the person behind the label, though in theory I have more in common with other BTs.

  69. Eddie Dembitzer
    January 10th, 2006 @ 11:13 pm

    Alan, Kressel and Josh,

    Alan – she’s welcome to do anything she likes but she brought up the point of the NR a number of times and solicited comments on it. As a concerned individual I shared with her my feeling that it will not go over well in most Ortho communities. Nor would pink hair which is also techinically halachically permissible. That’s it.

    Kressel – you write “I have neither encouraged nor discouraged Rachel’s nosering. One thing I do know is that we are supposed to love all Jews regardless of their physical or philosophical differences to us.”

    Who’s talking about “loving her”? What has that got to do with our conversation? If anything, the fact that I took the time to address her issue is an expression of love. It so happens that I don’t think she’s making a good decision. Does that mean I don’t love her any more than you do?

    You also write, “Also, your form of discouragement hasn’t helped her. Her feelings are hurt. As you may recall, tochacha is best given privately, softly, and with the recipient’s best interests in mind.”

    This too is nonsense to put it mildly. How can her feelings be hurt by my stating that I disagree with her NR when she is the one who wrote two posts about the subject inviting comment and disagreement? She made it public and all I did was comment on her statement.
    Please stick to the topic and don’t bring in your emotions.

    Josh – you write “I’m not Orthodox, and now I’m glad I’m not. I wouldn’t want to be in the sort of community that either has as many of these judgemental people as you’re implying, or else has people like you who silently condone their behavior. If I weren’t familiar with occasional positive aspects of the Orthodox world, and largely positive Orthodox communities, I’d be turned off entirely by this conversation. As it is, I’m unlikely to read much of this website in the future.”

    If this is the case, then I might suggest that you possess some seriously judgemental biases about Orthodox Jews and Judaism that have little to do with the conversation at hand. This conversation is an open and sensitive dialogue where people shared their mind in an honest manner. Our communities have standards and that’s why our daughters don’t get pregnant at 17 and the majority of our sons don’t end up on drugs at age 20. These standards are difficult to maintain and require a fierce adherence to our principles. Sometimes that adherence takes a less than balanced approach to certain forms of behaviour. Sporting body piercings, tattoos, punk hairstyles are among those. Those who seek to introduce them will not usually get a hearing and that’s the point I meant to convey. Think about it.

    Rachel – I’m glad you like your ring. I’m relieved to hear that it’s only a stud. I hope you appreciate that my [and others] comments were meant to be helpful. Sometimes we don’t think as clearly when we’re 19 as we do when we’re 35. I cannot tell you the number of BT’s who’ve expressed to me a desire to do away with their ponytails [men], piercings, tattoos etc. of their past. Go ahead and wear yours if you’d like. Hopefully one day we’ll have the pleasure of your company for shabbos and enjoy all the wonderful dimensions of your personality that you described so eloquently in your post [minus the NR].

    Peace to all!

  70. Anonymous
    January 10th, 2006 @ 11:57 pm

    As far as tochcha over this blog:
    (copied from another comment in another thread)

    Some have complained that “the content of this website is no more than a group hug.” Although I think there is plenty of room to debate this point let me for the sake of argument concede it as fact. By and large IMO this is a good thing. The psycho-spiritual pandemic of our era is insecurity and low self-esteem (see Rabbi Lazer Brody’s post December 26th post “Believing in Yourself”). BTs, in particular, endure such withering criticism from so many directions; parents and coworkers who think they’ve gone off the deep end, FFBs who sometimes agree with the above assessment while by turns saying that they haven’t conformed or come along fast enough, Mentors, Rabbis and Rebitsins who scrutinize their every move like another new set of Jewish parents. Worst of all many BTs internalize all of this and even when the external suppliers of critique and comment are temporarily silenced they become their own worst critics. What’s the crime in creating a safe house in cyberspace where one finds acceptance, approval, reassurance and encouragement? Lord knows that there are enough sarcastic, hypercritical (is snarky the correct word?) curmudgeons already plying their vituperation all over the blogosphere. Why can’t we have some virtual refuge cities for wandering Jewonks? The novee Isaiah 41:6 says, “Every one helped his neighbor and said to his brother ‘Take courage’”.

  71. David Linn
    January 11th, 2006 @ 8:10 am

    Anon:

    Great observation re: the point that a “group hug” is not necessarily a bad thing (especially here on the net).

    I think a group hug can also be viewed as a huddle. In football, the huddle is where the team gathers to strategize the best way to reach their goal. Many things are going on in the huddle: encouragement, constructive criticism, analysis, discussion. The one common thread is that everyone in the huddle is on the same team and everyone in the huddle has the same goal (though their ideas of how to reach that goal may differ).

    Here on the blog, we are not trying to create a place where everyone approves of all of the decisions and actions of everyone else. We ARE trying to create a place where we can discuss, strategize, constructively criticize and support, keeping in mind that we are all on the same team and need to work together to reach our common goal.

    Thank you all for joining the team.

  72. Sarah Newcomb
    January 11th, 2006 @ 8:44 am

    Well said David Linn. That is the emesdik bottom line. We are all in this together.

    I had another thought about this matter last night. Folks in their twenties probably have to live and learn, as it is life’s experiences that some learn best from. How many of us listened to “older” people like our parents, doctors, teachers, when we were that age. When I was a teenager I thought I knew EVERYTHING there was to know about life. I thought all the adult views were “old-fashioned” or that they simply didn’t understand. There were so many things I was warned about that I didn’t take heed to. I had to do my own thing, sometimes successfully, more than not fall down, take the consequences and try not to repeat again. My mother didn’t listen to my grandparents warnings begging her not to marry my father at 18. They sensed trouble from him. She was blinded by “love”. Within a very few short years there was trouble, he left, leaving her alone with 2 very young children and no support financially or emotionally.

    My kids don’t always listen to me. It’s frustrating when we have been through certain things and know we can help people prevent “regret” later, but maybe that is simply how the world goes around. Maybe people have to learn from their own mistakes. You simply cannot understand things the same way at 20 and single as you can at 30 or 40 or older, married, with family, etc. Alcoholics Anonymous and the other 12 step groups and support groups are so successful because the leaders and mentors “have been there”.

    There is power in shared experience. Some of us are trying to tell Rachel and others that we “have been there”, but you have to be ready to hear that and only time will tell. In the meantime, we can continue to be there for each other, try to follow our Rebbe’s advice at the point where we able to humble ourselves and remain in the “huddle” throughout it all.

  73. YD
    January 11th, 2006 @ 9:10 am

    Sarah-words of wisdom! Erma Bombeck once wrote “Every generation gets the opportunity to find out for itself that the stove is hot”

  74. Alan
    January 11th, 2006 @ 9:59 am

    Sarah,

    Thanks for recasting the question in that way, however I feel it should be rephrased a bit more radically, for the following reason:

    The example of “business attire” – while also a question of “communal norms” – leaves out the important relevance of communal *values*. Businesses, to my mind, value one thing (maybe two/three): Making money, and (as an adjunct to this) keeping clients and employees happy. To that end, all sorts of norms are established, from restrictions on what business deals are legal, to what employees wear, to how receptionists answer the phone. The goal is clear, and the most efficient persuit of that goal necesitates a certain “professional” environment which is explicitly *not* about self-expression, but about being a member of a team.

    Our religious communities, lehavdil, have different values from businesses. Some of the values that I think would negate the kind of frightened conformism expressed by some people here include “Zeh Keli Ve-anvehu” – personalizing your mitzva performance; “Shiv’im panim latora” – finding a halachic hashkafa and style that’s right for you; “Matzil nefesh matzil olam” – that each person has an infinite potential that is different from, and can’t be subsumed beneath, anyone else’s.

    I also believe that just like the Paytanim and Meshorerim expressed themselves (religiously *and* secularly!) through many different kinds of poetry in many different styles, us religious Jews today have the same opportunity given by God to be creative and find our unique personality and style and understanding. The frum communities I grew up in (I happen to be “FFB”), was schooled in, and have now chosen for myself, have all been places where personal expression and creativity were not seen as *threats* to the Torah lifestyle, but as essential parts of it.

    This past Sunday I attended the first performance of a shomer shabbat drama troupe made up mostly of religious Jews, college- and post-college-age, from the Maryland and New York areas. One of the directors and playwrights (it was a series of very short plays, written by participants) is a friend of mine. The performance was creative, interesting, challenging, and multifarious in styles, messages, and questions raised – all on Jewish topics of today. I don’t understand, though I know that it is the case, why there are frum communities out there who would not accept the value in that kind of endeavor.

    My main point to Rachel, and to some commenters on this post, is that (a) if you like the way something looks and it doesn’t break halacha to wear it, you should be yourself and go for it! and (b) that there *are* many frum communities out there that do understand self-expression as a religious value, and would not ostracize a person just for wearing/saying/doing something halachic-yet-atypical.

  75. YD
    January 11th, 2006 @ 10:54 am

    Alan-

    Could you get me the contact numbers of this theatre troupe? I know a Shomer Shabbos student @ NYU who had to be a Shabbos guest in many different neigborhoods (some dying ones included) over the summer so that he could be within walking distance of the branch Libraries where his non-Jewish company was staging Saturday afternoon performances.

  76. Sarah Newcomb
    January 11th, 2006 @ 11:28 am

    Alan: You are lucky to have been raised in an open-minded environment and seem to have had a positive experience in your schooling. Luckily you were able to choose a community for yourself as well that you are comfortable in. Appreciating things like the expression of arts, dance, museums, performances, is a very individual thing.

    Before I was frum, I was the only member of my family and friends who appreciated going to opera, The Museum of Modern Art, all kinds of shows and concerts from many cultures. My family and friends simply weren’t interested. So I went alone. I didn’t disparage them for being “uncultured”. I don’t think it’s just that Orthodox Jewry does not recognize the value in that kind of endeavor. Some people just aren’t interested in unfamiliar things. Some of the folks in that troupe may not appreciate the value in daf hayomi or intensive learning. Some may do both. Everyone’s needs are different.

    I feel we must find the way to meet our needs, both spiritual and physical in the best way possible that we feel H” would direct us to. Since we don’t always know what exactly H” wants us to do in any given situation, it is good to have a mentor/Rebbe/Rebbetzin. Not for them to tell you what to do per say, but to talk with, relate to, think and understand. When I became a licensed Realtor, my first bit of advice given by a Master Realtor was to find a “mentor” and cling to them. You learn the good, the bad, and then you figure out your own way.

  77. Alan
    January 11th, 2006 @ 12:08 pm

    YD,

    I’m not sure how I’d contact you other than just adding a comment here, but here is probably the info you’re looking for:

    http://www.yourspark.com/pages/TheatreBris.html

  78. Alan
    January 11th, 2006 @ 12:13 pm

    Sarah,

    I do agree with your points about people liking different things, and about finding a mentor.

    I just want to clarify that the value I saw in the plays I saw last Sunday wasn’t for me as “an appreciator of drama” or something, but for *the people involved in it* – who were being creative and expressing their ideas through playwriting, acting, directing, etc.

  79. Sarah Newcomb
    January 11th, 2006 @ 2:25 pm

    Alan:
    I hear you loud and clear. I recently attended a show a woman created about her personal life story of becoming Jewish and Orthodox.

    The show contained some segments which for some who have been sheltered from the outside world might have been offensive, or they may have been uncomfortable. Some communities did not allow this “show” at all. I took my FFB 13 year old daughter and was pleasantly surprised to find busloads of Chassidishe women of all ages (show for women only) joining with us in Queens and from wherever else the audience came from.

    At the end, ladies from all backgrounds approached the woman, thanking her for sharing, praising her talents, her gifted singing and dancing ability, her creativity and self-expression. She was given great support for the person she was, is and her way of expressing all of that to us.

    I know my daughter and many others did not experience it the same way I did, simply for our different past experiences or lack of them. I understood first hand, they could not.

    Nevertheless we all shared in learning from the woman, from a willingness to unite as woman to woman, person to person, Jew to Jew, and applaud her self-expression and music which has enhanced my own day to day life.

  80. micha
    January 30th, 2006 @ 1:32 pm

    pray, your questions/problems are awesome and i think He wants to hear you.

  81. Brachi Mitlas
    January 11th, 2007 @ 10:19 pm

    micha i agree

  82. chana
    January 15th, 2009 @ 5:31 pm

    To get back to the original topic, which was the challenge of the shidduch scene for baalei teshuvah, I would like to inform everybody about a shadchan network designed specifically for baalei teshuva and children of baalei teshuva. It is run by Oorah, and it’s got the whimsical name “The Rebbetzins,” based on the fact that apparently, in Europe, the local rebbetzin would “red shidduchim” for people who didn’t have parents to help them. The advantage to this network is that it is geared to baalei teshuva and very personalized. The members of the network make an effort to get to know each candidate on a personal level so they’re never making a match based on, “Hey, you’re a BT and she’s a BT! Perfect!” They do the research that parents of FFBs do for them, and they give as much mentoring and support as the man or woman is interested in having. Anyone interested in this service can find out about it at 1-8777-rebbetzins or on the Oorah website, oorah.org.
    Hatzlacha to you, Rachel, and everyone else seeking their bershert.

  83. Steve Mantz
    January 16th, 2009 @ 2:25 pm

    Hi Rachel. You say none of the 150 guys at Penn is “right” for you. Maybe you should therefore revise somewhat your version of what is right.

    additionally, you say you will have to look elsewhere. do you have communiity contacts? do you have community leaders? have you utilized their input to get connected with someone suitable, or to obtain advice? Also, based on your past dating, do you have a picture of what you like, or what kind of person makes you happy? In short do you have any picture of what you want which might guide your processes in this area?

    Sorry. hope you don’t mind these question. It’s just that there seems to be some slight dimension missing from your comments. such as what kind of person you feel you can truly connect with, or what your past experiences have actually been.

    So I would suggest that yes, with the current approach stated here, you will probably get tangled up on the shoals of a formulaic and mechanistic system, given that you yourself have not mentioned any process of revising or adapting your goals and expectations based on actual experience.

    you be better-served if you entered the shidduch process with some better or revised kinds of expectations and demands, based on the multi-faceted experiences and social interactions with the many advanced and accomplished males who form the Penn student community. Just a thought. thanks.

  84. Rachel Adler
    May 6th, 2009 @ 12:51 pm

    Steve-

    I can only speak to some of your questions, because the post was written 3 years ago, and a lot of things have changed since then. I graduated and left Penn, and I stopped being Orthodox (though I did not stop being observant) and thus am no longer in the shidduch system (or never really entered it in the first place).

    At the time, I think the definition of a guy who was “right” for me would have included Jewish, observant, and interested in dating me. The last one is what I did not find at Penn. There were plenty of nice, smart observant guys in the Jewish community at Penn, and I was friends with many of them, but of all the guys who I was interested in and asked out, none of them said yes. (And there weren’t guys asking me out that I was turning down. I would have given them a chance had they asked/existed.) And if someone isn’t interested in dating me, all questions of compatibility and what kind of person would make me happy and whatnot become moot.

    So really, it was definitely not a matter of pickiness or unrealistic expectations. I went in with an open mind. I never ended up dating anyone while I was at Penn, but it was not from a lack of trying.

  85. Judy Resnick
    November 15th, 2009 @ 5:57 pm

    OK, so maybe this site is a “group hug,” or a “team huddle.” Well, that’s exactly what I was looking for 35 years ago when at age 17 I became a Baalas-Teshuvah. Some kind of “second step” organization for those of us who had already taken the first step to become frum. At that time, there was no Internet to connect easily with other people. The few Kiruv organizations that existed at that time generally moved on to new conquests once they had succeeded in making someone frum. New BT’s generally had little guidance and had to use their own sense and brains to “wing it,” unless they were fortunate enough to find a rabbi who was understanding enough and would give of his own time to answer questions.

    I love this beyondbt website and I wish the Internet had been invented 35 years ago to find you guys!

    As for Rachel Adler, there is a terrific Modern Orthodox guy named Jonathan Hefter who just graduated Penn so you might know him. He wouldn’t care about the nose ring, he would care about whether you and he are really right for each other in terms of compatible personalities and shared goals. Are you interested? I’m not a professional shadchan, just one more “Bubby” who likes trying to match up Jewish singles.

  • RSS Shul Politics

  • Get Beyond BT Via Email

     Step 1: Enter your Email

  • Categories