Beyond BT

Spiritual Growth for Jews

A Tough Question

A Tough Question Being the only observant Jew in my immediate family, I get asked many questions about Orthodox Judaism. Some are very straightforward questions about keeping shabbat and kosher and other questions are more difficult to answer. The last time I visited my parents, my mom asked me why there are some observant Jews […]

The Night Hashem Did the Rest

By Ruby Ginsberg My son had a Rebbe in first grade who used to tell the boys “You do your best and Hashem will do the rest”. At no time has this credo been more meaningful to my family and me than on one summer night three years ago. With the kids back from sleep […]

Do BT Parents Risk Kids Off the Derech?

I knew I was in trouble when the reporter for a Jewish publication started off his interview with me as follows: “So, you wrote “What Do You Mean, You Can’t Eat in My Home?” because you became religious and your family is not, right? We had one orthodox relative, my mother’s brother, and he refused […]

Grass Roots Kiruv and Inspired Too

Rabbi Shaffier in a recent Shmuz about Kiruv made a great case for Grass Roots Kiruv. He pointed out that a non Rabbinic figure can often make a great impact because he is relating to the person peer to peer. He also pointed out many reasons that we should get involved. The only don’t in […]

The Ratio of Cows to Grandchildren

I’ve recently picked up the book “The Kiruv Files” by Dovid Kaplan and Elimelich Meisels (Targum Press 2003). It’s quite a good read with chapters on many issues faced by newly minted BTs. It’s also pretty funny. Here is a particularly interesting excerpt: You may have heard of Yitz Greenbaum, one of the early Israeli […]

Understanding Hashem’s Plan as Best We Can

Over the past few weeks, I’ve started, and failed to finish, about 5 different posts for Beyond BT. While all were different, all had the same theme: why aren’t people seeing the same ‘truths’ that I see in the Torah? I started all of these posts trying to engender a spirit of honest debate and […]

The Temptation of the Bekeshe

How do American black-hat “Lithuanian”-style haredim — such as myself, and especially the BTs among us — answer the implied philosophical challenge from the hasidim? One of the main topics on Jewish blogs concerned at all with religion is the question of “haredism” — a term with very different meanings in Flatbush and in Bnei […]

Integrating Environmentalism and Torah

Recently, Rabbi Shmuel Simenowitz, director of Project Ya’aleh V’Yavo, (PYVY) was invited by Robert Gough, Esq., secretary of the Intertribal Council on Utility Policy (COUP) and a director of NativeWind.org, a city/tribal partnership towards climate protection and energy independence to participate in the Tribal Lands Climate Conference jointly hosted by the Cocopah Nation and the […]

On Having Married Off Our First FFB Child

Marrying off our daughter was a thrilling experience but one that, as a BT, was not without its challenging moments. But before addressing the challenges, I would like to mention something very positive: my mechutanim (parents of the boy), very established FFBs, were dafka looking for the daughter of a BT couple for their son. […]

Yahrtzeit of Rabbi Samson Rafael Hirsch

Remembering the first Jewish warrior for tradition in the modern era. There is no such thing as an Orthodox Jew. Or, more accurately, the term “Orthodox” has no basis in Jewish tradition. The appellation was coined by the earliest Jewish reformers in 17th Century Germany to differentiate between themselves and the Torah establishment. In the […]

Inspiration Women’s Retreat – A Workout for the Mind and Soul

Inspiration Women’s Retreat A Workout for the Mind and Soul Fascinating Classes for the Intelligent Woman, Beginner to Intermediate Level February 18-19, 2007 Passaic, NJ Price: $120 Limited number of spots available For information or to Register call Dina at 973-458-0059 or Laurie at 973-773-1413 or email dimensch – at – verizon.net

How was your Relationship with Your Parents in the Beginning

A journalist is writing an article on relationships between fairly new observant individuals and their parents. The writer is looking to conduct fairly quick interviews with people who are going through, or have recently gone through, the initial phase of becoming observant. Please email us if you are willing to help with a short interview […]

Financial Realities II: The Unwritten Contract

By “Sam Smith” In retrospect, I’m not surprised that my first article on “Financial Realities in the Frum World” received such an overwhelming response (currently, 240 responses, plus a direct-offshoot article, “Suggestions to Address the Tuition Crisis” of 61 responses). I knew I was touching a raw nerve, because this topic has touched a raw […]

What is the Goal of a BT?

Should a BT just try to fit in with the rest of the frum velt? Which branch of the frum velt? What does it take to fit in? When I was dating, a student in the yeshiva I was in decided that he wanted me to date his sister. I spoke to the boy’s mother […]

Finding the Right Community – Twin Rivers NJ

Finding the right community is important for everyone, and as, Rabbi Horowitz recently pointed out a BT especially needs a warm and accepting community. In August, Ilanit wrote a great post on her wonderful Houston community. It’s very helpful for people to know what the choices are when it comes to communities, so if you […]

The Art of Reframing

I was talking to a friend over Shabbos and he related the following story: He went on an admissions interview with one of his children and the questions being asked were upsetting him. By the time it was over he was really angry. What kind of school was this that would have an outlook like […]

Ba’alei Teshuva Parents – FFB Kids (Part II)

Last week (click here), we left off discussing the distinctions between a mitzvah, minhag, chumrah, and something that is none of those three categories, but rather a cultural practice. We gave some examples: * Putting on tefilin every day is a daily mitzvah (a mandated commandment) incumbent upon all Jewish males above the age of […]

A Brief Introduction to the Works of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch

By Rabbi Gershon Seif Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch lived over a century ago, and yet his insights into the Torah and his teachings of the Torah’s view of life remain very current. This brief essay cannot do justice to an explanation of the times within which Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch lived, his battles, and his […]

Inferiority Complex

I was having a discussion with someone recently and he mentioned that one of the problems in the baalei teshuvah mindset is that BTs are often scared to question things they hear, especially from people who grew up religious because they anticipate that their own knowledge base is lacking in comparison. BTs just assume that […]

Do I need to Reconcile Science and Torah?

Most people ask “How do they reconcile science and Torah?” I ask, “Do I need to?” As a BT, I grew up in the secular, science-based world. I even went to Bronx High School of Science and got my undergraduate degree in archaeology. You would think the question about science and Torah would be a […]

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