Beyond BT

Spiritual Growth for Jews

Of Slugs, Racquetball and Shabbat

When people become observant, they often face certain delicate situations in the workplace, from struggling to find kosher food at meetings to having to leave early on Friday afternoons in the winter to be home for Shabbat. But for a division president of a $1.5 billion retailer, becoming frum led to its own set of […]

Teaching an Older BT New Davening Tricks

It’s amazing what we remember from our youth. I went to Hebrew School at the Clearview Jewish Center in Whitestone, NY, which was recently sold to a Montessori School, with some rights retained to a small chapel. I still remember my second grade class close to 50 years ago. We were learning how to read […]

Eating Cookies at the Kosel on the 17th of Tammuz

Before I became frum, I lit Channukah candles (I miss my purple and gold yarmulke), I didn’t eat bread on Pesach (I was stringent–it had to be bread davka) and I fasted on Yom Kippur. Even in college I fasted the whole day, and as soon as the sun finally went down (behind the administration […]

One Holiday Concert Too Many

Twelve years ago Dan Fried had an epiphany from a most unusual source. When his daughter was forced to participate in a non-Jewish holiday concert in her public school, Dan suddenly found himself standing up for his religion. The experience launched him from being religiously apathetic to becoming an activist for personal freedoms and eventually […]

Of Slugs, Racquetball and Shabbat

When people become observant, they often face certain delicate situations in the workplace, from struggling to find kosher food at meetings to having to leave early on Friday afternoons in the winter to be home for Shabbat. But for a division president of a $1.5 billion retailer, becoming frum led to its own set of […]

The Teshuva Journey: Blame the Amish!

If you want to know Beth Rubin’s role models to becoming religious, it was the Amish. Beth* grew up in a very Jewish neighborhood of Philadelphia. Everyone that she knew was Jewish, and they all went to afternoon Hebrew school and had lavish Bar and Bar Mitzvah parties. In such a uniform community people took […]

The Dreamer

Jeff ran in terror. The gigantic dog was gaining on him and he had nowhere to hide. He knew that within seconds it would sink its razor-sharp sharp teeth into him. And then suddenly, the dog lunged at somebody else and Jeff got away. Jeff Feder awoke in a cold sweat. He couldn’t shake the […]

The Power of Kindness

The little acts of kindness that we do every day can have life-changing impacts on people. Jay Cantor is proof. The common interactions he had with religious Jews helped him to understand the eternal relevance of Judaism and to overcome the lifelong stereotypes he had possessed. Jay lived in Manhattan and worked in sales. He […]

Back In The Ring

Stop in at the Gann El auto repair shop in Atlanta and you’ll be greeted with an ear-to-ear smile by owner Greg Herman. Take a look around the shop and you’ll find plenty of broken cars and the tools to fix them. Nothing in the shop gives away Greg’s previous life, except of course the […]

Putting the Pieces Back Together

The journey of Jeff and Amy Brooke was born out of tragedy, but through it they were able to see the tremendous joy and beauty of Judaism. Jeff grew up in a Reform Jewish home in Norfolk, VA. For years the region had the heartrending status of having the highest intermarriage rate in the country, […]

Life In The Fast Lane

In a blur of colors and a roar of engines, the Formula Ford race cars sped around the race track at the Riverside International Raceway in California. Hitting 125 miles an hour, George Gottlieb* pulled his car away from the pack. Lap after lap, the other cars tried to keep up with him but to […]

Unlikely Beginnings

Ken and Beth Broodo of Dallas were inspired on their religious journey by a pair of non Jews, and credit a Rabbi’s blessing with helping them to have children. The Broodos were both raised in non-Orthodox Jewish homes. Ken is a lawyer by trade and years ago he and Beth ran a small business selling […]

Finding G-d In Gaza

Daniel Peer first found his Jewish spark on a battlefield in the heart of Gaza. Peer grew up in Nivot Alit in the north of Israel. Though he didn’t grow up observant, he knew how to pray and occasionally put on tefillin. Peer entered the IDF in November 2001. As a boy he had learned […]

The Holy Potato

The state of Idaho is not a place where one would expect to find many Jews, but that hasn’t stopped Chabad Rabbi Mendel Lifshitz and his wife Esther. They moved to Boise, Idaho five and a half years ago with the goal of building up the local Jewish community. When they arrived, they were greeted […]

What Not To Do At The Shabbat Table

The Broodo family of Dallas, Texas is now a well-established Orthodox family. They’re leaders and role models in their community. However one event during their first Shabbat experience almost derailed their teshuva journey. If it was not for the quick thinking of their hosts, their lives might have been very different today. Ken and Beth […]

From Skinhead to Orthodox Jew

After the Iron Curtain was lifted in Europe twenty years ago, a surprising thing occurred – thousands of people who had been raised as gentiles came to the startling realization that they were actually Jews. Poland is home to thousands of such stories. During the Holocaust and under Communist rule, many Jews there hid their […]

A Life-Changing Moment

Some people can accomplish more in a single moment than the rest of us do in our entire lives. The Baraisa (Avodah Zara 17a) recounts the story of Elazar ben Durdaya who dedicated his life to empty pursuits and pleasures. One day, a chance comment caused him to realize how meaningless his life had been. […]

The Teshuva Journey: A Message From The Past

The Teshuva Journey: A Message From The Past Becoming observant often requires a person to make radical changes in his life as he takes on new observances and practices. For David Wachtfungel*, an encounter with the memory of a deceased great-grandfather helped him overcome these hurdles. David grew up non-observant in Michigan. During college he […]

The Teshuva Journey: Hashem Has a Sense of Humor

By Michael Gros Throughout Adele and Jack Kaufman’s life, they have repeatedly felt Hashem’s hand guiding them towards Jewish growth and observance. However the ways He has chosen to do so have been comical: their teshuva journey began at a Christian Marriage Encounter weekend, and a major turning point in their life was influenced by […]

Searching For Brilliance

By Michael Gros Growing up in Atlanta, GA, Asher Siegelman was surrounded by the values and culture of America. But he felt that the society was empty and he was disappointed by the ideals around him. He was especially frustrated by the lack of genuine role models he could follow. “In my senior year of […]

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