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. This boy, full of talent, middos, and “out of the box” intelligence (OK, I’m biased), was looking for a girl serious about her yiddishkeit, but did not want to be part of a judgmental, restrictive sort of family. So when looking for prospective shidduchim, his parents sought out those in the BT world. Here, in our world, as the shadchan said, they believed they would find the “real deal”: real Torah without the shtick. I take this as a personal compliment, but it is also a compliment to our entire BT community. I mention this in case anyone was worried that all children of BTs will necessarily face an uphill battle in the parsha of shidduchim. You never know. What you think is a liability may turn out to be an asset.
But being a BT “in the parsha” did carry with it a different challenge: mainly the resurrection of all of my parents negative feelings about orthodoxy. They had a laundry list of objections to this marriage and, frankly, from their point of view, I can’t blame them: she was too young to get married (almost 19); she hadn’t been to college yet (she is going now, but it wasn’t our first priority); why do they have to live in Israel (they can’t appreciate the kedushah, only the bombs); they knew each other such a short time (frum shidduch dating); she seemed too subservient to him (she let him take the lead, like a Bais Yaakov girl naturally does). My parents were outraged that he came from such a large family (let’s just say more than 10 children) and feared that she would spend the rest of her life pregnant and washing baby bottles, never “fulfilling her potential.” Her chassan had no “degree” of any sort, and my parents believe that knowing gemora will not earn them a living. “Rabbis are a dime a dozen in Israel!” they accurately screamed. Although they had always been generous with us, they resented the idea of our (even partially) supporting them, stating that if they can’t support themselves or he’s not professionally directed, they shouldn’t get married (they couldn’t appreciate the teaching opportunities he had with his connections).
Basically, they listed all the differences between the secular and the (more right-wing) frum points of view about dating and marriage, albeit in a loud and emotionally charged way. Why did I feel a sense of déjà vu? Hadn’t I gone through all this before, perhaps around 20 years ago?!
The hardest part for me about this parsha, therefore, was reliving all the fights I thought were behind us. Now I am more mature, of course, so I restrained myself much, much more, and I was not nearly as shaken in my beliefs and determination to do what I thought best as when I was young. However, the grief of the ongoing acrimony with my parents accompanied the joy, and it significantly marred what “should” have been a purely joyous time. It also took me by surprise that we couldn’t get through this easily, that my parents hadn’t yet given up and mellowed at all about my “orthodox lifestyle.”
Although some parents do come around, not all do; some BTs experience a wonderful rapprochement with their parents, but others, like myself, have to slog along for over 20 years continuing to fight the good fight. With love, of course, but with heartache.