One of my students, a BT couple, has an adopted girl who was recently asked to leave the “frum” Jewish day school in town. The girl has issues with yiddishkeit, learning difficulties, and some behavioral problems. The father is very disillusioned with the “frum” community because of the way the whole situation was handled. I personally don’t agree with the way the school handled the issue, but that is not the main aspect of the entire event.
In counseling the father, I tried to make a few points that I felt were most important. Firstly, his anger is a sign that he’s a good father. He should be upset that his daughter has been rejected. But lets put things in perspective. Secondly, we always need to judge others favorably. Even if the school administration handled things poorly, they mean well, they have everyone’s best interest in mind, and they have constant difficult decisions to make that affect numerous neshamos. Thirdly, as a fellow Jew, you have the right and probably the obligation to go to the person most responsible for the way the decision was carried out and speak to them one on one and say, “I’m angry with you for treating my daughter and us this way.”
The fourth point, though, is what I think is the most important.
Some BT’s become enamored with the frum community to the point where they ignore any obvious problems. Frum people are not perfect. We have many flaws. That’s why moshiach isn’t here yet. It’s important to keep your eyes wide open regarding the frum community and if you see anything that you disagree with to voice your opinion, talk to Rabbis, respectfully about the problems, and address the situation.
Many BT’s leave communal problems alone and assume, “Who am I, a mere BT, unlearned, an am ha’aretz, to suggest to a Rabbi that he and some prominent members of his shul are bigoted?” You might be someone that can change the Jewish people for the better. Nothing is an accident. You grew up the way you did for a reason. The Al-mighty is bringing many people back to the fold these days. Of course, returnees need to learn and absorb many things from the frum community. But they also need to teach the frum community about the things the mainstream is falling down on.
Don’t just send you child to a frum school. Get involved. Go to board meetings. Voice your opinion to the administration on issues you feel passionate about.
A baal teshuva often has a sensitivity or an attitude that is sorely missing in mainstream Judaism. Don’t sell yourself short. After all, that may be the main reason HaShem helped you come back to Torah and Mitzvot.
Rabbi Max Weiman