One summer, 20 years ago, I became Torah Observant. The decision and commitment took place while on an NCSY summer tour right before my junior year of high school. My growth as a Jew after that point was fairly text book, I suppose. Strong participation in NCSY, several years learning in Eretz Yisrael, combined with both a L’mudai Kodesh and secular education for college.
As time went on I became friends with many BTs, like myself, as well as FFBs. Eventually I got married and started a family. As I look back at my ‘life’ as a Torah Jew, I see that something happened.
I stopped connecting on a certain level as a BT. I don’t mean that I denied or hid my own journey towards Teshuva. I simply functioned on a level where I focused more on my learning, growth, and Avodas Hashem and less on my past. About a year and half ago I experienced a massive paradigm shift. I stumbled upon a web project started by two guys from Queens.
I began reading several posts and then posting comments myself. Even after years of being involved in outreach work, I found an awakening in myself and a feeling of chizuk from people with whom I shared a common past.
While I had been a BT for many years, I realized that I could connect with others in totally different aspect. I entered a new phase as a Baal Teshuva. I refer to as BT 2.0. For me, it’s a realization that regardless of geographic location we are all, as clichéd as it sounds, connected.
I just wanted to thank all the participants here for their time and efforts. For even the BT of twenty years, like myself, is never Beyond Teshuva.