Beyond BT

Spiritual Growth for Jews

After thoughts on Chanukah….Keeping The Tree of Light Burning Bright

By Marsha Smagley A ba’alas teshuva of only the last ten years, I have difficulty letting go of the holidays, especially Chanukah. It is the last night of Chanukah and as I watch the glowing lights of our three menorahs, two with flames from oil and one from wax, I feel sadness at its end. […]

How to Handle These Potential Shul Embarrassment Scenarios?

All three of these situations occurred this past Shabbos and Sunday. 1) The loud Shomoneh Esrai davener. A father of a guest davened a really loud silent Shomoneh Esrai. My friend moved his seat during every Shomoneh Esrai after Shacharis. I tried to wait him out by davening very slowly. I remember asking a Rav […]

The Eight Sheets of Chanukah

By Ruby With 5 weeks left to my son’s Bar Mitzvah, invitations were sitting at home waiting to be addressed and mailed. All my wife had to do was create the spreadsheet with all the addresses, set up the mail merge, and feed the envelopes through the printer. I had the really tough job – […]

Der Meistersingers of Athens

Maybe it’s because I grew up listening to Xmas carols. Maybe it’s because what passes for Jewish music these days is frequently Jewish words grafted onto pop or rock instrumentals. Or maybe it’s because the perpetually waning enthusiasm I see in our young people today might be stemmed if we helped them tap into their […]

What, Judaism Can Actually be Fun?

Written by: Gemma I got speaking to a mother who had reluctantly just sent her daughter to seminary. She wasn’t religious herself but was angry that her daughter had become religious and couldn’t understand what she saw in Judaism. I got to the root of the problem – she then told me that Judaism was […]

How Can We Eliminate The Pain of Being Judged?

One of the reasons non Observant people give for not finding out more about Judaism is that they feel judged. How are we to understand the pain of being judged when we enter into a relationship with a non Observant Jew? Is it because at some level we may feel superior because we are observing […]

Help Free Jonathan Pollard

After 23 years in federal prison, it is time for Jonathan Pollard to go home. Just a few moments of your time can help Jonathan Pollard regain his freedom. Your phone calls, faxes and letters can help make that happen. He needs your help now. Please visit http://www.freepollardnow.com/index.php to find out how you can help […]

Rabbi Dov Brezak – Staying Focused: How to Build and Maintain a Loving Relationship with Each of Your Children

Rabbi Dov Brezak recently give a shiur entitled “Staying Focused: How to Build and Maintain a Loving Relationship with Each of Your Children”. Rabbi Brezak is an internationally renowned lecturer and author of Artscroll’s “Chinuch in Turbulent Times” and the acclaimed “Chinuch Concepts” tape series. You can download the shiur here. (right click and save […]

Rabbi Ozer Bergman – Alarmists

For better or worse, I am not an alarmist. So when I got an e-mail or two that tzaddikim of various stripes were warning “The End is Near for American Jews! Get Out While You Can!” I was a little underwhelmed. After all, I’ve gotten e-mails in the past that “Mashiach is DEFINITELY coming by […]

Should a Single Observant Woman in Her 30s Consider a Non Observant Spouse?

Last week, Rachel, a columnist in the Jewish Press (Chronicles of Crises in Our Communities), published a letter from an older single in which she is considering marry a not yet observant spouse. Here is a relevant excerpt: Recently I started dating someone who is considering becoming religious, to conduct a Torah household when he […]

Not Good Enough

And Yaakov remained alone and a man wrestled with him until break of dawn. And he saw that he could not defeat him so he grabbed him in the hollow of his thigh and he dislocated the hollow of Yaakov’s thigh with his wrestling with him. And he said, “Send me because the dawn has […]

Thanks From Leah Larson – the 100,000 Winner of the Wells Fargo Contest

Leah Larson shows her gratitude on her Yaldah Magazine site. Thank You! I’m happy to announce that YALDAH is the Grand Prize Winner of Wells Fargo’s Someday Stories Contest!! This past Shabbos, my school went on a Shabbaton in a hotel. Right after Shabbos I called my mother to check if she’d heard any news […]

Stumbling Blocks

By David Bogner One of the most significant stumbling blocks standing in the path of a Jew who is toying with the idea of becoming more religiously observant is embarrassment. Or more correctly, the fear of embarrassment. You see, when viewed from the outside (i.e. from a Ba’al T’shuvah-eye view), religious communities and their intricate […]

How Should We Relate to a Relatives Non-Jewish Spouse?

A friend of mine, an FFB Ben Torah, received this letter from his estranged intermarried niece as a response, to a family wedding invitation. His sister an avowed atheist who has since passed on; isolated herself from the family well over 50 years ago and raised her children as atheists. The letter which is pretty […]

Panim Al Panim – The Pleasures and Pitfalls of Facebook

I have, it seems, made my mark on Facebook, which is poised to become the world’s leading online social networking medium. Without going in for the adolescent (and worse) “applications” that people are constantly cooking up, I’ve managed to combine the RSS feeds of my two blogs, and my sensibilities for nostalgia, multimedia, self-promotion and […]

Live at the Aish Conference

I’m here at the Aish Conference in Stamford. It’s a tremendous inspiration to be with hundreds of inspired Baalei Teshuva. The conference theme is “YOU CAN make a difference”. We got here late last night, so we missed the opening session. Rabbi Yitz Greenman lead a discussion on The Greatest Problems Facing the Jewish People. […]

Parshas Vayeitzei — Bringing the Well into the City

And [Yaakov] saw that there was a well in the field. Three flocks of sheep were there lying beside it, since it was from this well that the flocks were watered, and a great stone [blocked] the mouth of the well (Bereishis 29:2). This is how the Torah describes Yaakov’s arrival at the house of […]

Under the Black Hat: A Bar Mitzva Celebration

There was a bar mitzva in shul a few weeks ago. As is the custom, upon hearing the bar mitzva boy’s blessing over the Torah, the girls in shul, leaning over the mechitza, rifled – more like uzi-machine-gunned – toffees towards the bima. ‘Ouch’! – a little sister’s revenge – a strawberry toffee right in […]

How Can I Prevent Cremation?

I have been frum for 31 yrs. My parents are in their 70′s. They informed me when my grandmother passed away that they have prepaid for their cremation and that it is irrevocable. (By the way my grandmother who died at age 100 1/2 had prepaid for a real leviah with tahara and burial, even […]

The Key To Staying On the Derech is Maintenance

This is a follow up post to my thoughts on the topic of why some BTs go off the derech. The crux of my theory is that sometimes people go off the derech not so much because they are unsatisfied with their frum lifestyle, but rather, because when life’s pressures become overwhelming we seek to […]

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