Beyond BT

Spiritual Growth for Jews

A Baal Teshuva’s Letter to His Parents – Part 2

By Rabbi Benzion Kokis Part 1 is here Ideal scenarios rarely occur exactly according to plan. I would like to focus on what alternatives would be fair for you to expect, given our upbringing. I am going to look at three scenarios: 1. Your sons marry non-Jewish girls; 2. We adopt your ideal scenario; 3. […]

A Baal Teshuva’s Letter to His Parents – Part 1

By Rabbi Benzion Kokis It is often very difficult to have a calm discussion with family and friends about the changes a ba’al t’shuva has made. There is too much emotional baggage, too many sensitivities that can be hurt, to expect a rational dialogue. On the contrary, it is much more likely that the discussion […]

Showing Respect For Your Family

By Rabbi Benzion Kokis In the interaction between a ba’al t’shuva and his family, very often the religious issues, in and of themselves, aren’t the source of the difficulties. Rather, the family’s perception that for the ba’al t’shuva, all that matters are the religious issues, and their impact on family and friends is irrelevant- that […]

Being Thankful for Thanksgiving

When it comes to Thanksgiving, some families within Torah observant Jewry tend to have the attitude: “I’m thankful the whole year. I say Modeh Ani every single morning. Why should I celebrate Thanksgiving?” The truth is that when I was growning up, as a third generation American with marginal Synagogue affiliation, my family ‘did’ thanksgiving, […]

Spiritual Black Ice

I don my trusty backpack for my early morning walk to the supermarket, stocking up for Shabbos cooking and tonight’s dinner before the sun even rises. This is how I start my day, while my husband is davening in morning minyan, while my teenage children catch the last moments of slumber. The calendar says that […]

The Cowardly Baalas Teshuva

By Yentl Eisenberg Reprinted from We were invited to a celebration in honor of my niece’s high school graduation. Just a nice simple dinner at my brother’s vacation home down the shore. Only there were potential problems. There are always problems, but this time I really didn’t want to deal with any of it. […]

Thanksgiving and the BT – Roundup

It’s clear that Thanksgiving is an “issue” for many Baalei Teshuvah. In addition to Neil Harris’ Being Thankful for Thanksgiving, the issue has come up in numerous posts and comments. We have highlighted some of those posts and comments below. In Can You Really Get Everything You Want at Alice’s Restaurant?, Rachel Adler sought advice […]

When the Secular Little Cousins become Teenage Cousins

Blast from the past originally published 9/17/2008. Fresh from my annual time share vacation with the secular family, I want to write for the Beyond BT readers on a topic that I think needs some further exploration and discussion. Logic says that the longer we are working things out with our secular family, the easier […]

Uncle Martzi – The Son Who Wanted to Come Back

In the mid afternoon on Passover eve, a special guest would come to my parents home. Martzi Baci. Uncle Martin, my great uncle. I don’t recall him visiting us at any other time, only on Erev Pesach and for the Seders. His routine was as follows; he’d come in, take off his coat, light up […]

A Letter to My Brother – Explaining Some Lifestyle Choices

This is the email I sent to my secular brother because he keeps asking me questions about my 21 year old son’s future. We live in Australia and he lives in America where I am from originally. It can be very challenging for BT’s to explain their lifestyle choices to the secular relatives. Even after […]

My Non-Observant Sister’s Wedding

Hi, My sister got married on Sunday, and I have written down some thoughts I have, the day after. I wondered if I could post them to beyondbt, as I could use some chizuk from others who have experienced similar things. 7th November 2011 Last night they finally got married. And it’s a major anticlimax […]

Dealing with Non-Frum Family Summary

A fellow BT has written a good summary about Dealing with Non-Frum Family based on some posts and comment threads on Beyond BT so we’re reposting it here with permission. There’s a lot of discussion about dealing with non-frum family in the Beyond BT site. It’s a hot topic for all baalei teshuva’s because we […]

Trying to Keep the Peace

By Jonathan I first went to Yeshiva when I was in my mid-20’s after graduating college. My oldest brother’s wife is an unabashed Catholic. When he made what they call a bar-mitzvah, the pressure from my parents, who were alive at the time, was very great. My Rebbe called a well known Rov who was […]

Chaim and David Linn – the Cover Story Article on Hamodia Magazine This Week

David Linn and his brother Chaim are the cover story of this week’s Hamodia, so we thought it was appropriate that we repost this piece and the great song Chaim wrote: Davey Pray mentioned in the Hamodia article. Yasher Koach also to regular Beyond BT contributor Michael Gros for penning the article. Live on the […]

Guess Whose Not Coming to Dinner?

Ever since making aliya decades ago, I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I’ve been visited by collateral relatives. So it was with great excitement that I learned that cousin Adele her daughter Jan and Jan’s two young daughters would be in the Holy Land and that they wanted […]

Question of the Week: What’s the Next Step?

Lisa writes: I have a younger brother who is not observant. Recently, he has been showing interest in Yiddishkeit. I’m concerned about being pushy or not supportive enough. Do I refer him to classes, a book, a Rabbi, something else? Any advice would be appreciated.

How a Planned Cremation was Changed to a Proper Jewish Burial

By Miriam Sidell This post is a follow up to a Question of the week from Dec 2, 2008 titled How Can I Prevent a Cremation? This is the story of how a planned cremation was changed to a proper Jewish burial, chasdei Hashem. Two years ago when my grandmother passed away at the age […]

The Complexities of Eating Kosher at the Family Time Share

I am writing this from the condo, having just polished off the kosher dinner that I cooked and shlepped to the annual time share vacation that we participate in every year with my parents and brothers and their wives and children. The family rents the time share location for a full week but we ( […]

A Palm Beach Thanksgiving: Fear and Self-Loathing in South Florida

By Adam Hilliard My family is very un-frum. I am, while very un-frum by the standards of most of the readers of these boards, what my family calls a religious maniac because I keep a kosher kitchen, daven, and manage to light Shabbat candles on occasion. My brother Aaron and his gentile wife live in […]


By “From Within” I am going to live forever. No one told me this. In fact, there have been enough hints dropped, here and there, over the years, to make me believe that not everyone thinks so. But I know that other people believe they will live forever, too. They say they don’t – sometimes […]

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