How Would You Help Other BTs Transition?

A fellow BT has been blessed by Hashem with great insight and great financial resources. Looking back at what was missing when he became frum, he has allocated significant funds to provide learning opportunities specifically for BT’s — at this point specifically for BT women who he feels are really under-served!

Yes, finally, someone understands that many of us – especially the newcomers – need something other than more outreach classes to help us really feel like we ‘get it’ and fit in!

He, together with the team he has hired, are interested in our input – -what we need / want /long for etc. And they’re asking two simple questions:

1) If you could spend a few days with fellow BT’s and have the perfect schedule of classes, lectures, discussions, activities, etc – what would you want included in the curriculum/schedule?

2) If you had the money and the time, what would you do to help other BTs make the transition – or maintain the transition – more smoothly?

47 comments on “How Would You Help Other BTs Transition?

  1. I would tend to agree with Bob Miller #46 about the problems in the comment by Peleg Strauss #45 (with all due respect to Mr. Strauss). Jewish men learn Gemara because they’re commanded to learn Gemara. Period. Those who want to know the practical halacha can also study the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, the Mishnah Brurah and the Igros Moshe. But learning for the sake of learning, for being Koveya Ittim, setting times for learning, that’s Gemara.

    Rabbi Avigdor Miller zatzl devoted his famous Thursday night lectures to all kinds of diverse topics: hashkafa, spirituality, philosophy, you name it. But all the rest of his week was devoted to giving shiurim in various Masechtos of the Talmud Bavli. In fact, Rabbi Miller once seriously considered ending these lectures in order to give one more weekly Gemara class (although he had more than a dozen Gemara classes going on already). His devoted kehillah eventually talked him out of it and the Thursday night lectures continued up until his last illness.

    I have two adult sons learning in advanced Yeshivos. I’ve suggested to both the idea of possibly learning Masechta Chullin and Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah in order to one day be able to pasken shailos in Kashrus or become a Mashgiach at a meat processing plant. Of course, they are adults and can make their own decisions as to what they want to learn and what they want to do with their lives. The point is that men’s learning doesn’t have to have a practical point. Men can attend a shiur in Masechta Pesachim about the correct wood to use for the turning spit for roasting the Korban Pesach, which hasn’t been done in over nineteen hundred years.

  2. In the comment above, Peleg makes these two recommendations:

    1. “Find out where all this really comes from.”

    2. “Forget Gemorrah unless you are going to be a rabbi”.

    There seems to be a contradiction here that any of us can spot.

    Moral: Don’t take bloggers’ advice at face value; think it through.

  3. First things first. Sit down with someone and slug through the Mishnah Bruah, at least about davening, Shabbos, and Yom Tov. That gets you a off to a good start, you at least know how to get through a day without too many serious mistakes. Then, Chumash, with Rashi, and maybe Rambam and a few others, and do it in depth. Find out where all this really comes from. Then Navi and Kesubim to add in some breadth and richness. Forget Gemorrah unless you are going to be rabbi. You can’t use it to pasken your own shialahs anyway, and so it’s no use for anyone else, especially those of us who are starting late in the game. How about some philosphy once in a while? Gives a deeper understanding of the why’s and wherefore’s. How about some real discussion about Spirituality? About our relationship to Hashem. About how to make it all meaningful for the long haul.

    Now, try to find any such shirim. Try to find anyone who even wants to teach it. Find someone who actually can. But they all know the details of how the Sanhedrin works. I find that *really* useful in my life. Interesting to know about, perhaps, but mostly a waste of my time. Perhaps it is easier to stay in the abstract and on the surface than to really get into the fundamentals and learn something.

    It’s not about keeping kosher and keeping Shabbos. Not at all. It’s all about WHY we do it. Why we CHOSE to do it. Nothing in the Talmud that I’ve ever seen helps me clarify and understand the why’s of it all, just the how’s. Since I finally can answer the why’s for myself, I don’t have any problem doing Shabbos and kosher. I don’t need a community to support me or to fit into. (It would be nice if such a place existed, but it doesn’t for me.) It’s about me and my relationship to Hashem.

    It is a shame that I finally got my answers, my real understanding, learned to have a relationship with Hashem, and my spirtuality, outside of a Jewish context.

    And I do mean *learn* this stuff. Not just sit there and listen to some authority wax and wane about the subject. Do some homework, prepare for class. Learn it. Ask questions. Get answers. This question and answer stuff is often discouraged in the shiurim I’ve been to. Beside leaving very frustrated, I wonder what is the point of the whole thing? Don’t rush it. We aren’t preparing for finals, afterall. There is no deadline and no reason to have to cover a certain amount of ground in a certain time. This shouldn’t be “Daf Chumash”. Who are we racing? Rather, it should be real, honest-to-goodness learning. The goal isn’t, as in Daf Yomi, to say that we read through it all in a certain time. There’s a difference between running through the park to say we’ve been there and taking a leisurely walk, looking at the flowers, stopping to watch a squirrel do its thing, see the different kinds of plants and learn to identify them.

    There seems to be a lot of dashing through material that passes for learning. We are wasting our time and I can’t find any shirim that really have mastery of the material as a goal. If it takes a month or more to do one parsha, then that should be considered a good thing, a valuable thing. And there seems to be very little focus and time spent on the fundamentals and the practical. I don’t care how to slaughter an animal for sacrifice. I do care about why we do it, what it means.

  4. We found that Metro Detroit (the suburbs like Oak Park and Southfield) is also a very good place to integrate in Steve’s sense.

  5. AM Mintz in Mishpacha always has fascinating stories that combine a Musar Haskel with a sociological insight into the Charedi world. See this week’s for how BTs in Israel complain about rejection in Charedi schools and in the shidduch scene. I thought that the article illustrated how it is relatively easier for a BT to integrate the American Charedi world, especially in communities that welcome BTs such as KGH, Baltimore and Passaic and many others than the EY Charedi world, which R Weinreb from the OU once described as 100 years behind the American Charedi world.

  6. I would like to correct my earlier statement when I said that no formal learning opportunities are unavailable in Houston. That is not technically true. Houston is lucky to have 2 active kollels, an outreach organization called TORCH, and there are many many MANY learning opportunities and classes every single night, including in my own shul. Unfortunately, my husband and I haven’t yet found classes that appeal to us or teachers with whom we really connect, so maybe it’s really us, not them. :-) But – that being said – I agree with Belle and wonder if some kind yeshiva-online can be created. Like a live webinar or something like that.

    Re: parenting – well, I try not to focus on it too much to avoid lashon hara and to focus on people’s positives! But this is a rundown of what I’ve seen: kids who don’t respect their parents or other elders, kids who don’t pick up toys/games after themselves, who throw wrappers and things on the floor and not in the trash, who don’t treat a shul like the holy place that it is, and parents who let them get away with it. Perhaps this is my conservative old-fashioned viewpoints (and I am a mother of 2 myself, thank g-d), but I believe in discipline and respect, and I want my kids to see that we need to respect everyone and everything (shul chairs, shul floors, etc). And I wish I can say this is just isolated to one or two families, but it’s not. When I have to defend all Orthodox families from non-Orthodox people who complain about Orthodox kids, I know there’s a problem.

    Re: Partners in Torah – yes, my husband and I have both tried it, but it has not yet worked for us. But I haven’t given up on the idea!

  7. Houston Ima makes excellent points. Perhaps these classes can be developed and offered online. Otherwise it is re-inventing the wheel for every single city where there may be baalei teshuva.

    HI-I am curious as to what you have seen re: parenting that disappoints you. Usually people are impressed with orthodox family dynamics (more respect for elders, children taking responsibility for siblings, etc). Of course there are always dysfunctional families, in every society, but it would surprise me if every family you saw was this way!

  8. Here are our (mine and my husband’s) experiences. We both became observant separately before we got married, and one of the foundations of our life is that we will raise an observant family. However, I am relying on my (excellent) elementary/middle school Orthodox education, and my husband is relying on bits and pieces he’s picked up all over the piece. He has never been to yeshiva and we do not have the ability for him to go full-time (or even part-time) to any yeshiva right now. Additional knowledge we have gained from reading articles online, asking tons of questions from our rabbis, and figuring out what other people do. In a nutshell, not a particularly “learned” way to go.

    My husband would like to learn more, but he also feels that he needs a community where he can relate to the people there. He has not yet found a learning situation in town where he really connects with the rabbis.

    I would like to learn more, but there is nothing formal available where I live.

    So, what I would like is some kind of course for men and women on learning how to pray, learning kashrut, learning the meaning of the prayers, learning, the laws + customs of the holdiays, etc – basically, school for adults.

    As far as women are concerned, I flipped out the year I had to prepare for three-day chagim. I would suggest practical courses for women: how to keep a Jewish home, how to prepare for Shabbat when working full-time, how to prepare for three-day chagim, shortcuts and strategies, parenting, etc.
    (although – and I hate to say this – but what I’ve seen in terms of parenting by religious families kind of disappoints me, sorry to say)

    As for my observations in the community around us, I think that maintaining family relationships when becoming BT is most critical. I made a lot of mistakes initially and strained family relationships, and if I was more knowledgable in the skills and leniencies available to me, I may have been better equipped to avoid those pitfalls. I think that a support group is VERY needed in every kiruv community.

  9. Who wants to learn Hebrew? Bli neder, I will be happy to provide short inspiring things to read in Hebrew that have changed my life and utterly ruined me for Jewish inspiration in English. It’s an uphill climb that I. for one, thought I would NEVER make, but it is worth it.

    Let me know; I might just make the effort. The “Gesher” series of easy Hebrew works with vocabulary supplements was meat and drink to me, but it has become outdated. Anyone who has missed Rav Sabbato in the original is as one missing a limb; Hillel Halkin’s translation is brilliant, but…

  10. Gary #31: Thank you for your kind comments, but I still feel concerned about Mr. Cohen #27, getting sick and having no one to care for him, or about him.

    Mr. Cohen #27: Not to interfere with your privacy or safety, but perhaps you could tell us what general region of the country you live in. Southern California? Upstate New York? Central Florida? Outside Chicago? Then perhaps we could contact the closest Chabad House to your general location, as Chana Leah #29 suggested, to find out if there is a Bikur Cholim group that might be available to help out if needed. Of course, we will all pray that in 5771 with G-d’s help you will be strong and healthy and not need such services, but it would be good to connect with an organization “just in case.”

  11. Hi there. I also think shuls and communities should have a hachnasas orchim committee to set people up for Shabbos and Yom Tov seudas so people can feel part of the community which is lacking because I know including myself there are many people who spend Shabbos and Yom Tov alone and it is depressing. Anyway, happy New Year!!

  12. Judy, your advice in # 30 is very good. While many people perform the mitzvah of bikur cholim (visiting the sick)for people that they don’t know, your suggestion that one get involved in the community(study groups, minyan, etc.) does help to expand the circle of friends from whom visitors are likely to emerge.

    That circle may include people of the opposite gender, within the community’s norms. In some organized bikur cholim endeavors, the practice may that people visit a sick person of the opposite gender, as long as the visit does not involve the patient’s intimate needs. This instruction sheet from the Rabbi Isaac N. Trainin Bikur Cholim Coordinating Council cites the Shulchan Arukh as the source for this practice.

    (Consult your rabbi for answers to your specific questions about this matter)

    May all of our cholim (sick and injured) see a refuah shlemah u’meherah (complete and speedy recovery)as 5771 begins.

  13. Even places with organized Bikur Cholim groups find that they do not have enough male volunteers to assist in taking care of sick men.

    I would suggest to Mr. Cohen #27 that when he is well that he join some kind of men’s group in his local shul, whether it is a Chevra Mishnayos or Daf Yomi, and become one of the “regulars” who goes every day or as much as possible G-d willing. Then if he does not show up one day, the other regulars will say, “Hey why didn’t Cohen show up today?” and then maybe someone will call him or visit him to find out what’s wrong.

    Individuals with no family or only distant relatives (both in geography and connection) should attempt to create their own little network of caring. The advantage of having friends over relatives is you get to pick your friends. So as Pirkei Avos says, “Make a friend, acquire a Rav.” Excellent advice even two millennia later.

  14. Mr. Cohen: I’m not sure if you live in an area where there is an organized bikur cholim that you can contact for help—but if not, you might try the nearest Chabad; they are often ready to help with Bikur Cholim for Jews in places where there is no communal support.

  15. Mr. Cohen,

    It seems to me that all observant Jews should understand the MITZVAH of bikur cholim, which is more than a mechanical skill. “FFB’s” and “BT’s” should visit each other interchangeably. Are you living in an area where there is no frum community of a significant size?

    There will be relatives in the frum and secular spheres that don’t do a good job of visiting their sick relatives or otherwise assisting them. I can plead guilty to not always being the best relative that I could have been under such circumstances. Now I do my best to help those people who are still around to benefit from my improved bikur cholim (read that mentschlikeit) skills, and I hope that it makes some atonement for my past shortcomings.

  16. Baruch HaShem, I do not become sick often. Still, I feel scared about becoming sick even rarely, because I have no person to help me when I become sick.

    As a Baal Teshuvah, my relatives have not been trained in Bikur Cholim or chesed. Most also live far away.

    If I am not feeling well, the only close relative I have will visit me for a few minutes, once every 2 days, and then walk away from me feeling that she has done more than enough, and complain what a heavy burden it is for her, having to work so hard and visit me also. I feel ashamed to ask non-relatives for help, and help from is relatives almost non-existent. If there were a Baal Teshuvah Bikur Cholim, that would be great.

  17. I’m awed, what an amazing idea. Mi K’amcha Yisroel??
    I think parenting classes as well as classes on how to run a large organized household are the most important here.
    Personally I had found Chana Sarah Radcliffes books a lifesaver.

  18. Regina: Everyone has different styles of becoming BT, some jump in “head first” on the fast track, some move more slowly. At the very beginning there might be one area of frum life that is most appealing to you. That would be a good place to focus on and develop. For me it was reading parsha and commentaries (in English). From there, I enjoyed going to Shabbos davening and hearing the Rabbi speak on the parsha, and attending parhsa classes. And from there, increasing Shabbos observance and other types of learning. Whatever draws you in the most, start there and it will lead you to other mitzvos.

  19. Regina,

    I have found it best to work on one or two initial issues until I am at a “maintenance” level in those areas. Then I would begin to study and implement more observance of another aspect of Judaism, or begin a different area of study. It’s hard to maintain beginner’s intensity and enthusiasm in too many areas at once.

    I don’t want anything that I do to become a rote practice, but some degree of settling in to a routine is helpful. That routine can vary periodically, too. Sometimes I have to “back off” in one area (for example, studying in advance for a weekly Gemara shiur) to get ready for a three day Shabbat – Yom Tov combination.

  20. Gary: your words in your last post were what I needed to hear. I have so many questions as someone just starting out on the BT path. How does one focus on making a particular step successful without feeling overwhelmed by everything “non-kosher” in their life? Would such tension be alleviated by jumping in head first and just dealing with issues as they come? Or is it really best to stick with one thing at a time?

  21. I’m in my second time around as a BT. Here is an important lesson that I pondered between “episodes” and that I am doing my best to apply today:

    You cannot do it all at once, and you cannot do it all alone.

    Going at your own pace does is not equivalent to complacency.

    Taking (a) step(s) “back” or “left” or “right” does not constitute failure.

    Not all differences between you and other important people in your life are irreconcilable. People can observe and grow at different paces and still maintain a strong connection.

    Hatzlachah/Sucess to all in 5771.

  22. Judy: So true. I remember my husband having a terrific struggle trying to help my boys years ago with gemara, while he had never learned it himself. The boys often ended up with tutors, but somehow that never worked well.

  23. All of the above ideas are excellent,and should be part of the process of integration of BTs into the greater FFB world. However, since Midos are harder to change than one’s msitaken notions of Halacha, I think that Mark’s initial observations, which R Hillel Gross outlined years ago in the annexed link, are still critical. I would also mention that living in a community that is friendly and accepting to BTs and Herim is also critical as well.

  24. Also, why not open up enrollment in health insurance plans to the parent body, again for a fee, unless the plans themselves are specially restricted for whatever reason to teachers or staff only.

    Judy, your suggestion above (# 17) is excellent. The increased buying power of the larger group would help to reduce costs and increase benefits to all participants. There are trade associations and private organizations that buy medical coverage as a group, and these opportunities may be available to associate members.

  25. To Chana Leah #16: I’ve often wondered why those schools which already provide babysitting services for their staff members don’t offer it their parents too, for a fee of course. Also, why not open up enrollment in health insurance plans to the parent body, again for a fee, unless the plans themselves are specially restricted for whatever reason to teachers or staff only.

    Adult learning classes are catching on in post-high-school institutions, but so far I don’t see too many classes for parents given by the elementary schools, which is a shame. There are a lot of dads who give up on helping out sons with Gemara past sixth grade, plus as you mentioned it would be great for us moms who want to help daughters with their limudei kodesh homework.

    Yeshiva Darchei Torah in Far Rockaway has opened up many of its high school vocational and career courses to adults in the community (not even just parents) who pay a fee.

  26. I second the vote for classes for BT moms trying to help daughters in Bais Yaakov schools with the typical BY limudei kodesh curriculum. Wonder why the schools themselves couldn’t provide these classes, where the location has enough BT parents that would sign up, also could be a fundraiser if a fee is charged…..

    Support groups sound great. I’ve been looking for years for a group of BT parents whose adult kids have said no to frumkeit, for whatever reason.

  27. Parenting seminars would be awesome, Dena.

    Some organizations (like have parenting lectures but a “network” of classes in major cities would not only be helpful, but also these could be recorded and distributed online to others.

  28. this is SO heartwarming to hear.

    so many of the suggestions already made are greater than great. although i myself am actually in the education profession dealing with newcomers and their knowledge of judaism, i would just add an emphasis on the family/parenting thing.

    it has been said that BT parents face a greater risk of having off the derech children. many reasons have been given for this:

    1-the child knowing more than his parent in Torah knowledge at an early age, creating a role-reversal wherein the kid becomes the authority instead of the other way around.

    2-the involvement of NF grandparents eager to redress “the issue” while nurturing their relationship with the grandkids (the enemy of my enemy is my friend….). this also can create a dynamic wherein the kid, by virtue of his exposure through the grandparents, extended family etc to certain things his BT parents may have left behind now is forced to examine these things and evaluate how great his own pull to them is…

    3-the fact that many BTs have fashioned for themselves a pastiche of minhagim, etc gleaned often from widely varying points of the compass, some of which are in conflict, means there sometimes is no one a child feels he can pattern himself after. every parent knows that when “everyone is doing it” comes out, the game gets tougher. when no other family has more or less the same list as you do, your kid may chafe at the bit.

    4-the awe for this perfect, pure and holy FFB baby a BT has brought into the world places this child high on a pedestal. it’s hard to discipline a kid normally when he’s way up there.

    5-some BTs were brought up by parents who rejected the very concept of authority. hard to parent responsibly when your own understanding of and experience with authority is shaky, when you feel a little guilty for even trying….

    with all this on our plate, i think parenting support – in the form of classes, formal mentors, and other aids treating this subject from top to bottom is the single greatest thing anyone could do to help this generation of BTs.

    hatzlacha to him/her – it will be so great for any of the suggestions we’ve all come up with to come about.

  29. My husband – Nachshon Zohari, LCSW – would certainly be qualified to work on a project like this. He is a very experienced psychotherapist and parenting educator. He also speaks very well on relationships between spouses and within families. He is a convert and I am a baalat teshuva. We have been through the gamut of issues mentioned above and fared quite well, b”H. Check out his website and please pass it on to the person leading this support project.

  30. Judy,
    Based on your comments, Chicago seems like a city that has a handle on many of those items.

    Most high schools require girls to have “chessed hours” per year.

  31. Love this idea. Wish it was around thirty-five years ago back when I became frum in 1975. Call it “Second Step” or something of that ilk: we’ve already taken on the mitzvos and want to pursue a frum life, but need HELP (with a capital H).

    Here’s my own personal wish list:

    A Free Loan Fund would be a very big practical help for BT’s and Geirim. Not handouts but zero-interest loans, which must be paid back. The Chofetz Chaim zatzal wrote about establishing Free Loan Funds in his sefer Ahavas Chesed, published about a hundred years ago in Poland, but it is especially relevant here and now.

    A support group meeting once or twice a week for BT women led by some caring frum woman who could be reached afterward by phone at definite times for questions and eitzos. There could be some kind of conference call setup so that women who are too busy or too distant to come in person could phone in to also take part in the support group.

    A Sheitel Gemach. Inasmuch as human hair sheitels are astronomically priced, donations of out-of-style and worn-once-for-a-wedding-but-never-worn-again wigs would help BT women who simply can’t afford the price of a new sheitel.

    A Shidduch Bureau for Geirim and BT’s, including a subgroup for Kohanim and Kohen-eligible women.

    Affordably-priced reliable day care for working frum mothers. It would greatly help to set up some kind of child care arrangements for newly frum BT women who are juggling jobs and kids.

    Job training and job placement for BT women would be a big help, particularly for BT women re-entering the work force after taking time off to raise their children.

    Food pantry help, donated or low-cost chicken and meat, plus other expensive food items such as grape juice and Pesach products, would assist struggling BT families who get no financial aid from relatives and few opportunities to be invited to others for Yom Tov and Shabbos.

    Lessons in intermediate and advanced Ivrit would be good for those BTs who have already grasped the alef-bais and can read Hebrew in the siddur but not really speak it or understand it. Classes in Rashi script and understanding Rashi would be helpful for BT moms whose kids want help with Rashi homework, and of course for anyone who wants to understand Chumash with Rashi.

    Classes in text learning for women from the classic Halacha seforim such as the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch with Mishnah Brurah and Igros Moshe. Not Gemara, not to get into that machlokes, but everyone agrees that it’s OK and even necessary for women to learn Halacha LeMaaseh, practical Jewish observance not just from an English language translation but to actually see what the halacha is from the text.

    Special support groups, such as a subgroup for mothers of special needs children or a subgroup for women going through the divorce process or a subgroup for widows, lo aleinu. Women caught up in difficult life situations need to know they’re not alone and not friendless.

    Refresher classes in Niddah and Mikveh for BT married women who may have had “time off” due to pregnancy, nursing and/or other issues and now need to learn again (or for the first time) the relevant halachos.

    Some kind of bureau to match up high school girls looking to do chesed projects with overwhelmed BT moms who desperately need respite help (challenged children or preemie triplets or whatever the need is). Also a bureau with contacts to reliable prescreened women available for providing paid household help, by the hour or by the day.

    Classes in davening, including the regular weekday prayers plus the Shabbos and Yom Tov tefillos. Not just the tefillos but what to do and when (step forward, backward, etc.) for those BT women and Geirim who may be too confused by the instructions and too ashamed to ask other women for help.

    Finally, a thorough class in preparing for Pesach each year, with emphasis on what’s practical and what’s absolutely necessary as opposed to wasting time and effort (scrubbing toys???).

  32. Michoel

    I couldn’t agree more with you. Specially for BT men who did not get the opportunity to go to Yeshiva full time.

    To me this is the most undeserved aspect of the BT community.

  33. I actually feel men are more undeserved than women. Every year, speakers from the various BT seminaries come to the US to give chizuk. Rebbetzin Heller, Reb Pavlov, Rabbi Orlovsky used to come every year, many others. They go to multiple communities where their former talmidos are now settled and non-talmidos can also come to the lectures and speak with them. Someone should sponsor the Roshei Yeshiva of Ohr Someach, Aish, Machon Shlomo etc to come on a speaking tours in the US.

  34. Based on my experience the following are necessary:

    1. Finding a Rav in a new community
    2. True Yeshiva style gemara classes for working men
    3. Marrying a FFB and family implications for your immediate family and interaction with FFB spouses family.

  35. Above, Mark Frankel mentioned “lack of preparation for the financial hardships you will most likely encounter.”

    Possibly, people are skittish about scaring off BT’s who have not really become committed yet. But there is a stage in the process where some candor is in order.

    However these hardships are hard to quantify in some global way, as these depend on the people and communities involved. For example, some people could tolerate the relative isolation of some regions of the country from Jewish infrastructure and others could not. Nearby infrastructure of different types comes with a price tag, including home prices and real estate taxes. Some states and cities tax more income heavily than others. Some people might want a less frugal lifestyle than others. Some communities might not tolerate frugal lifestyles too well.

  36. I would agree with Shira and Bob. Open-minded [read: other hashkafos are ok] individual follow up is key.

    Birthright is now facing a follow up issue, it’s not just people in our own camp.

  37. Much of the needed guidance is community-specific or requires the guidance people to really know those they guide.

    The more generalized assistance would get the BT further down the track, to where the personalized help becomes important. Would that help be forthcoming?

  38. I think something like “Hashkafah Consultations” would be a good idea. Kiruv organizations can give a baal teshuva a sort of tunnel vision, when it comes to there being different communities. Sometimes they may feel a lot of pressure to stay with their original kiruv community, because that is what is mostly done (it seemed to me), but sometimes its not the right fit. And it would be good to know what other options for affiliation there are out there, and that is okay to jump over to where you feel most comfortable, if it means a you’ll be less fustrated or stay committed.

  39. Are “BT women” really under-served?
    (I don’t know, since I’m not a woman)

    In Chicago, we have an active “Partners in Torah” program at a local Beis Midresh, many shuls offer “women’s classes” during the week, and several organizations offer “women’s classes” with various speakers on every single Shabbos, Tehillim groups, etc.

    Ok, for guys there are various “Gemara Skills” classes.

    Without opening up a can of worms (of course a can with an OU and a B’datz on it), the “under-servered” part might be refering to the fact that when couples become observant often the husband will “latch” onto a particular Rav or frum sub-culture and before you know it start taking on several chumros (stringencies) and the spouse feels that she has no choice but to “go along for the ride”. I’ve personally seen this happen time and time again.

    Resources should be spent in making sure that both spouses are growing together in they Yiddishkeit.

  40. The biggest issues we’ve seen are:

    – Messing up family relationships

    – Lack of preparation for the financial hardships you will most likely encounter

    – A lack of good parenting training

    – Accepting second class citizenship and patronization among great swaths of the Orthodox community

    – Inadequate Torah training

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