How was your Relationship with Your Parents in the Beginning

A journalist is writing an article on relationships between fairly new observant individuals and their parents. The writer is looking to conduct fairly quick interviews with people who are going through, or have recently gone through, the initial phase of becoming observant. Please email us if you are willing to help with a short interview and we will pass your information on to the writer.

While we’re on the subject, how was your relationship with your parents when you first started becoming observant?
Was it strained because you made mistakes?
How understanding were your parents?
What would you definitely do differently?
Where do you think you did a good job of maintaining good relationships?

Share your experiences by dripping a note in the comments.

37 comments on “How was your Relationship with Your Parents in the Beginning

  1. Regi #34: Try Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro of the Beis Medrash of Bayswater, Far Rockaway, New York. You can communicate with him by email at Or try calling him at (718) 868-1901. He’s very open, very very smart, very into answering questions about Judaism and frumkeit and practical advice.

  2. One thing that I’ve always found interesting is that while my (BT) husband’s parents have been very negative about our frumkeit, my non-Jewish parents (I’m a giyores) have been on the whole very respectful and accommodating. I think it comes down to feelings of rejection of their brand of judaism, whereas my non-religious parents don’t feel any threat at all. I will say, however, that seeing our cute children grow up well has smoothed over some of the rough spots with my in laws. We’ve also made every effort, with halachic guidance of course, to be accommodating and have not hesitated to seek hetarim if needed to avoid bad feelings (hence our attendance at my BIL’s reform wedding).

  3. I realize this is an old chain…but I think a useful one for a lot of us. For a little family background, I am a 30yo female, my parents brought me here as a teenager from the Soviet Union. I grew up as a secular Jew, a “New Year’s tree” and the works.

    I gave up pork and started fasting on Yom Kippur in my early 20s, but really was never interested in going much further until a couple of years ago. I was fortunate to get excellent secular education, always held a good job, and in general consider myself financially independent, responsible etc. My relationship with my parents has been quite good, but my Mom definitely had some issues respecting my boundaries, forcing her opinions, etc, and I was never good at standing up to that.

    So now that I started getting interested in frumkeit, I am essentially in the middle of an all out war. I chickened out of “going all the way” seeing my Mom’s reaction – she believed I have a joined a cult, and I decided to continue but at a much slower pace. This didn’t really help.

    Perhaps my mistake has been that I haven’t found a Rav to follow and just feel my way as I go along as to what I can and can’t commit to. I marvel at some of the folks here who talk about their parents kashering the kitchen, or keeping separate dishes for the children, or not answering the phone on Shabbos for the sake of shalom bayis…basically tempers flare up if I so much as speak the word “rabbi” out loud.

    My mother and I barely speak as I really can’t hide my religious leanings, and it’s hard to walk on eggshells all the time. I also feel confused – since the relationship deteriorated over my very low level of observance, I might have as well gone all the way since the result would have apparently been the same.

    Another complication is that right around the same time I started dating a non-Jew. While conflicted about it religiously, I am not convinced that I am prepared to give him up for the sake of frumkeit. We got engaged. I thought it would convince my mother that I have clearly not “joined a cult” since I am about to marry a non-Jew. No such luck.

    It is very very difficult to give up on a child-parent relationship, but at this point I feel that it is better for all involved if we simply don’t speak. Clearly whatever Jewish actions I continue are perceived as criticism and rejection of the values I was brought up with. No quick-fix solutions. Perhaps, as some of the other posters write, the effects will be evident in 20 years or some other long time period, but it sure doesn’t make living in the present easy.

  4. I’m new to the community and scanning previous blogs on topics that interest me. Thanks for the positive comments on my two Jewish books. Glad they were of help to some people.

    On this subject, reading the wide array of responses people have to this question of how being BT affects your relationship with your parents, it is clear that we can never stereotype about this topic. It depends so much on first, what your relationship was like before you were ever frum, and then, how your relationship evolves.

    When I ponder my own situation, and the current distance I feel from my parents, I recognize that it isn’t like we were really close before I became frum. We maintained a polite small talk kind of relationship before, and now. We had topics we never discussed then ( like my recent trip to the ashram. . . tee hee), and now. We stayed in touch by phone but rarely got together. Then and now.

    I feel the absence more now because being frum centers so much around family, but it would be a lie for me to blame any current distance from my parents on the fact that I became Orthodox. It is a convenient scapegoat, but it’s not ever that simple.

    That said, it is a very real possibility that a once close relationship with one’s parents could be initially stressed when a child becomes frum. But I really believe that if that relationship was once truly close, it will be once again, when the issues are worked out — and they will be, because a close parent/child relationship is of such high value, everyone will work hard to return to what once was.

    For those of you who have achieved this bond, bravo. And for those of us who have not, and may never, at some point we just have to accept what is, show kavod to our parents, and be grateful to the life they gave us, and then build a home with our own children where hopefully the parent/adult child bond will be closer.

  5. * How understanding were your parents?

    Now that I’ve done some self-flagellation, I must say that my mom’s behavior was quite awful at moments. I’ve blocked out most of it, but I will tell you that at my Shabbat kallah, she went into my room and put on my brand-new sheitel and came out and did an “Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction” dance for the entertainment of my girlfriends. That’s who she said I looked like in the wig, and it was not a compliment.

    Nothing is black-and-white, but I must say now that she is the biggest defender of orthodoxy and of my husband and me. Anyone who makes a denigrating comment about orthodox Jews in my mother’s presence is asking for a fiery lecture about how great the frum lifestyle is.

  6. Re: Black becomes a Rainbow – knowing the bt in question in this book to be a lovely woman, I’d remind people to keep in mind that everyone views ‘reality’ through their own agenda and preconceptions. The mother and author of this book is certainly no exception. It hardly an unbiased observers account of a daughter becoming frum.

    A mutual acquaintance said to the subject of the book, “I can’t believe that is you in the book! You sound so awful!” to which she replied, ‘yes, well imagine if someone had followed you around when you were becoming frum with a notebook in hand to record all your misdeeds – and then made a book of it.’

  7. It seems our only problems exist around food!
    My brother was the first to test my folks. We grew up in the deep South so EVERYTHING is seasoned with bacon grease or bacon. EVERYTHING has gravy on it ( made with meat juices and milk). Shrimp is a common meal, not a luxury.My parents however sent us to a Conservdox school growing up and lunch was always kosher.
    So this was hard on my mom who grew up on a farm and were the only Jews in town.
    At first she took it as an insult to her cooking. My brother would bring his own food to family events. I understood, but it insulted my mom.
    I was next. To accomodate my brother and I, I have ALL the family celebrations at my house now. This way we don’t worry. My mom STILL can’t get over that I would pay 40 bucks for a turkey, when she gets one free from Kroger.
    But the good news..I did turn my mom and dad on to Rashi wine!
    I begged my parents to come to JLI classes. My dad has gone to Chabad for a long time. My mom knows no Hebrew. She refused…no way, no how. She was :
    Not going to cover her head. Not going to read Hebrew or English. Not wear a dress.
    Well I kept begging. She came once…and as we were going in, asked if I had an extra head covering. Of course I did as I was now wearing a wig. Long story short, she has gone, head covered ever since. She even goes to Shabbatons with us at Chabad. She read out loud in class, and I even heard a few Hebrew words come out of her!
    The Rabbi is the reason she goes. She adores him..
    I have found if I don’t announce or make a big deal out of something, then she does not either. If we have dinner and there are mashed potaoes with gravy..I don’t say anything…like “oh mom, how do you like the potatoes…they and the gravy are made with soy milk”
    In fact over Chanukah I made a Chicken Pasta dish, but I used Morning Star strips for the chicken. My dad LOVED it. I did not tell him till later, oh BTW, it was SOY!
    So I would say in summary to ease your parents in. Don’t try and sound “more religious” or better than them. And maybe they will follow you! B’Hashem I still have my parents with me!

  8. Chaya H.,

    That sounded very familiar. Excellent observations.

    How often I’ve wished I could go back and erase some of those stupid things I said; for kvod shamayim, for my parent’s sake certainly, to spare my own embarrassment at myself.

  9. Mrs. Jude, are you sure you’re not me? It’s funny, because my oldest friend’s name is Judy, but I’ve called her Jude probably since the Beatles song of the same name.

  10. My mistakes included thinking I should ‘Water down’ my observance level on visits at first… So as to not overwhelm them.
    THis was very disrespectful of their intelligance.
    It also caused problems as My mother feels that I ‘change the rules on every visit.”
    I would disagree….but still…
    It also caused problems when our children were born because before I might bend the rules for me…to avoid an all out war… But after the children…I was not willing to allow a bending of the rules. Affecting my neshama is one thing… Afecting my childrens neshama was another..
    The other problem was lingo. I would use words that I thought ‘everybody knew’ and they didn’t. That created a lot of something…Can’t find the right word just now though… lol

    Bell & Charnie –
    The Relationship with my mother is very bad at times. With everyone else it is fine. She still thinks I am raising my daughter ‘to be an outcast’. She has never met an orthodox jew in her life I think… or so it seems.

  11. Good questions in the original post. I’ll respond to one right now:

    * Was it strained because you made mistakes?

    Yes. When I was 19 and newly observant, my mom went out and bought ingredients with a heksher so we could cook together, and then I totally freaked out and screamed about traif when my mom tried to use her own olive oil without a heksher.

    “Traif” is a loaded word and I would have done better to avoid it.

    Another loaded word: “abomination.” I used that cute little noun to refer to a relationship between a Jew and a non-Jew. Never mind that I was about five minutes past dating non-Jewish boys myself.

    My early mistakes included:
    1) Speaking in a careless and hurtful way.
    2) Speaking with authority about Judaism when I didn’t really know much.
    3) Not recognizing how hard my mom was trying to accomodate me.
    4) Trying to make everyone understand where I was coming from.

    When I started being quiet and listening more, learning more about Judaism and giving my relatives the benefit of the doubt, all of my relationships improved.

    Or as my mother says, “You mellowed.”

  12. The original post referred to a journalist writing an article about this topic. I would caution that it is very important to know the potential readership for this article.

    Recently, the Baltimore Jewish Times did an article on this topic, interviewing both BTs and their parents (but mostly parents). The readership of this publication is mostly secular (ads for crab restaurants included). Therefore, when the parents the journalist interviewed said things like, “I was so hurt when my son would no longer eat in my home,” or “Why couldn’t he be flexible on Shabbos just once to spend time with the family?”, I cringed. I could imagine the magazine’s readership agreeing with them and pitying them for their misfortune to have such crazy, uncaring children. I don’t think having the journalist read “Black Becomes a Rainbow” will help in this regard. A secular person will definitely read that story as emotional abuse — I read parts of it that way!!

    On the other hand, if the readership is frum, I think it is important to tell these stories. While people involved in kiruv understand the sacrifices and special issues that BTs overcome on their path, I think that many FFBs don’t fully appreciate the process and its struggles. As we integrate into frum society, I think it helps to show the community-at-large the level of commitment that brought us to their doorsteps.

  13. Becoming frum has greatly improved my relationship with my parents. My parents have always been supportive (except when I decided to go to Yeshiva in Israel) and it works out. The issue that my wife and I are facing now is, with kids coming (BE”H, BLA”H), my parent’s don’t dress in a tznius way in their own home. One of my thoughts is to buy a shabbos robe for my mom, but my wife thinks it is too manipulative. Anyway, I am going to have to breach the topic in a sensitive way before our next visit there; they live in another corner of the country so we don’t see them too often. Another issue we may have to face eventually (BE”H) is that when they visit they usually stay in a hotel and drive over Shabbos.

  14. I am going through all of this right now. When my husband and I became observant, we lived far away from my parents. Now that we are within 1 mile from them, they are used to the Shabbat thing, although my dad (who never spends a weekend as a weekend) considers it a waste of time. My family is also understanding of kashrut (although to maintain shalom bayis I still eat in their home) and bless them they buy only kosher meat for me. Nevertheless, having grown up traditional Zionists in Communist Russia and living in Israel in the 1970s, they view religious people very suspiciously.

    What has actually been a major point of contention is the issue of covering my hair, and unfortunately my mom and I exchanged fighting words over that. While I am still growing into covering my hair (it’s currently not 100% of the time), my mom sees that as symobolic of women’s supression and nothing to do at all with G-d but rather with man’s desire to subjugate women. For some reason, my long blond hair is actually a source of pride for my parents, and they see covering it up as such a shame to cover such pretty hair.

    In general, I try to carefully “measure out” what new experience I will introduce so they are not overwhelmed and don’t view me as fanatical or brainwashed (something they have called me before). For some reason, they are afraid that I am being brainwashed, and I try hard to convince them that is not the case and that I am actually quite logical and sane.

  15. Mrs. Jude, my experience was quite similiar to yours. It truly appeared to me that my mother thought I was rejecting her values. I don’t think she ever knew an Orthodox person in her life (at least none that I can recall), and she never joined my father in his Conservative shul either. Her most frequent complaint in the “early days” was that I was trying to convert her. If anything, I was trying very hard to steer away from anything like that – as I strove to make it clear that this was strictly my personal decision, and that I’d always respect and love her. But somehow she felt threatened by this very alien lifestyle.

  16. Mrs Jude

    Your experience echoes mine. I know my parents suffered by my becoming frum, because they harbored an image of orthodoxy which was not mine and also obviously because they felt I was rejecting them. But my being subject to harsh criticism and rejection created lasting feelings of hurt and distance, which, 20 years later, are somewhat repaired but the feeling of alienation from them as a result of their harshness is lingering. (See my wedding post!)

  17. I have been at it for a decade now and still my mother and I have problems. My father was always supportive. I think my becoming religious was a slap in the face to her… Somehow it meant that I did not think the way she raised me was ‘good enough.’
    I did like the ‘black becomes a rainbow’ book. I think it touched on something that I feel can be missed in many ‘you have rejected me’ conversations….The baal teshuva hurts too… Having your own parent reject you with often times very harsh words is a painful thing.

  18. Nighthawk700-if you’re ever riding out to Santa Fe, look us up for a kosher meal or a Shabbat. We’ve got a couple of bikes in our garage (one is my regular commuter), so we won’t mind one in the driveway! We’re thinking of doing a series of rides to Jewish communities out here come Spring; to bring some hizuk and explore the history of what in the world are Jews doing out here and how do they get by. You can email us at myscher at .

    As per this post: I came home from a USY shabbaton in the 70s and simply announced I was going to keep kosher. My poor mother, may she live and be well for many years, nearly had a fit. Fortunately, my father’s mother kept a kosher kitchen, and encouraged me while calming my mother. She would also invite me over for a Shabbat meal on Friday nights with her and my grandfather. I got my first pots and pans from Nanny Scher’s kitchen. Some of those lived in boxes in the basement when I left home, and continued to serve us intermittently for decades more.

    I tended to be a bit disrespectful and impatient for my part; but I had two major influences who counselled respect and patience with slow growth on my part. Rabbis Elihu J. Steinhorn and Meir Kahana (Hashem yikom damo) kept it sane and slow.

    Every step was a struggle though. Kashrut meant I had to work around my mother’s kitchen. Over time, she started to help out with shopping and offering to cook, but she wouldn’t kasher her kitchen. Never did. Shabbat existed in my bedroom. TV, telephone, etc. continued throughout the house. But over the years, we started making kiddush at the table, then I would eat my seperate meal. The fact that my father’s parents were ‘Old Country’ people helped. The other thing is we’d always had meals together as a family before this; so now we looked for ways to still do that.

    The next big struggle was when I wanted to go to yeshiva to finish HS. That received a clear ‘over our dead bodies’. Even the grandparents objected to that one. So I didn’t do that.

    Finally, when I decided to make aliyah, they all objected but I didn’t let it stop me (also Rav Steinhorn’s and Kahane’s influences). As the years went by with me in Israel, they got used to that and began to take some pride in it. They were much happier when I came to the US to teach. They were always helpful by then whenever we visited their house, but my mother still thinks it’s all just a little bit strange. And she can’t understand why I’m perpetually unhappy not being in Israel, and planning on going back.

    Unquestionably my being a very rebellious teenager (yes, beyond the norm…) made it all more difficult. My parents thought this was just another crazy rebellion. What really helped was how I was taught respect by all the rabbanim who taught me along the way. My mother was very disturbed when I told her that even when I don’t *feel* loving, I will show respect out of obligation as a bottom line. Eventually she understood that didn’t mean love had diminished, but respect and stability had grown. During my father’s last years (may he rest in peace, tomorrow night is his yahrzeit) he really appreciated what Torah had done for me. I suspect that ultimately we had less trauma from my transition and growth than some families.

  19. One more point-if you want to see how a family evolved positively over the years, compare my recent post with the post that I wrote about a family simcha last June.

  20. As warned in post #1, I’m continuing the story here.

    It was extremely helpful in terms of Shalom Bayis that my mother and I did not live together anymore at the time I started becoming frum, since it gave us both our own space.

    One of the things I can thank my mother for to no end is that she exemplified chessed. Many times she said she didn’t feel her day was complete if she hadn’t helped anyone. A truly beautiful concept and one she definitely lived by.

    When I was in the hospital after giving birth to our second child, my mom was staying in our apartment with my husband and our then 13 month old son. She was delighted to tell me how she saw this toddler paying attention to his Abba when he said Kiddush. For the first time, she was beginning to see something! A few short years later, she was lost to us. But it was through the glow on her grandchildren’s faces that she ever so tentatively began to see what I saw.

    My husband had alot of “mazel” with his family, first his sister became frum, and then his father. His mother willingly went along with keeping kashrut and Shabbos, although she would have preferred not to.

  21. RE: Azriela Jaffe joining the writing staff at BeyondBT.

    Wow, that’s great. Before we got married, my wife (Orthodox) and I (Conservative at the time, but now more religious) both read her book “Two Jews Can Still Be a Mixed Marriage” and had a lot of discussions about the various topics, and how we wanted to deal with them in our new family. I credit it with helping smooth things out even before the marriage began.

    Now as for the main subject, parents’ reactions; my parents are still getting used to the idea of my becoming more religious, although at times the disappointment shows through. For example, they wanted to take my wife, kids and I on a cruise with them this fall. But the cruise departs on a Saturday, and kosher food would have been the “tv dinner” variety. They were disappointed when we declined, but we are working on booking a kosher cruise in the future with Kosherica, and my folks will book on the same ship at the same time. (there’s no way they will give up their lobster and other common meals on the ships)

    But they were always accomodating. Once I got engaged, and they realized my wife kept kosher (and now me too), they bought another set of pots and pans, gave them to a rabbi to tovel, and they stay in a seperate storage container, only to be used we we are visiting. My dad sometimes asks if I miss out on baby back ribs, snow crab legs, etc. But I really don’t miss them any more. I think it really hit them how serious I was when I told them I would no longer teach a motorcycle riding course over the weekend. (I’ve been teaching it on weekends for 10 years.) Fortunately there is a new weekday option for me so I don’t have to completely give it up.

    I don’t know if it makes it harder or not, but my brother (there are only the two of us) is now living with a non-Jewish woman. He’ll attend things like Rosh Hashana services or a Seder only if his arm is twisted (by my parents). So for my parents, it’s like two total extremes in their kids. That’s one reason I try to take things step by steps with them and not throw too much at them at once.

    By the way, I used to sign my posts as “A Newcomer” but basically on just about all blogs, web forums, etc., I use Nighthawk700 (my first motorcycle), so I’m going to switch over and use that here now. I guess I’m not such a newcomer anymore. :-)

  22. Speaking of Black Becomes Rainbow, I wanted to yell at the daughter for being so difficult to get along with. The mother was really loving to put up with all of that.

  23. I didn’t find that my relationship with my parents changed that much as I became more observant. The problems that were there were still there, they just played themselves out in a different way.

    Like everyone, I did make some mistakes that I wish I could go back and correct. But, the truth is that my parents were so socially conservative and traditional enough, that one could say it was their fault I decided to move beyond their level of observance. From the time I learned to talk, I was always driven towards all things Jewish, and my parents say they weren’t particularly surprised.

    If I could go back in time, I would have worked out a game plan for when my parents came together on Shabbat. My father loves being part of a Shabbat community, my mother not so. Visits on Shabbat were strained and made me miserable which made observance look like misery which it is not. Fortunately, since we have been married, this hasn’t been a problem as my mother is much more respectful of me as a married person than a single person and respects our boundaries.

    Probably the best thing I did was marry a person my parents really like and who, despite observance, is just their speed. On another post about Thanksgiving with the family I emphasized the importance of really learning halacha in regards to kashrut. Knowing these rules has made for smooth sailing.

  24. Occasionally my parents roll their eyes, but for the most part they’re pretty good about everything. My mom has become very supportive, even to the point of encouraging me to take on new mitzvot.

  25. Oh no, avoid that book! How anyone could have thought it was a good idea to write a book about a baal teshuva couple who harbor resentment that their non-frum parents don’t support them in kollel is beyond me.

  26. Menachem and Albany Jew,

    I read “Black Becomes a Rainbow” a while ago, and I remember thinking at the time that it was insightful and a good read. However, since both of you feel otherwise, I’m tempted to reread it, but not at the $50 price listed on Amazon ! I linked below **,if anyone is interested, an excerpt I found online, and you can judge this part of the book for youself.

    I think that there exist both types of people. I have a number of non-observant relatives, and some will go out of their way to accommodate my family in various ways, but there have been some sticky points over the years.

    A few years ago, for example, a relative of my mother’s gave us a royal argument because she couldn’t accept that we don’t attend non-Orthodox services, and therefore were unable to hear her grandson’s Torah reading. However, even with this person , we maintain a good, overall relationship, and she has learned to accommodate my family in certain ways.

    In the case of “Black Becomes a Rainbow”, it’s obviously a much closer, and therefore a very different situation. However, if everyone reads Azriela Jaffe’s book, they will hopefully have a much easier time than the first book’s author :)


  27. In the beginning, things were rough.I can still remember the reactions to the arrival of my first pair of tzitis, my first arbah minim and sefarim-it was not easy .

    In retrospect, the key was my parents recognizing that I seriously intended to become Torah observant, go to YU ,etc . My father ZL was sympathetic because he was an accountant with a number of clients who were Torah observant and he respected Orthodox rabbis, despite the fact that he was not personally observant. IIRC, they were concerned that becoming religious in the late 1960s or early 1970s was no different than engaging in drugs, cults or radical politics as well as where I would wind up in college, etc. In that regard, dealing with some of the then classically C attitudes was not easy.

    Once Shabbos became a fact and not a slogan in my life, I recall that my father ZL bought me a lift pass for a local ski resort which I used on Sundays. In the context of my immediate family, I think that Kashrus and mixed swimming were even tougher issues to negotiate than Shabbos. Our family was Kosher inside, but Chinese and seafood of all kinds on the outside. We also used to visit relatives, etc at the beach. Once I made my stand on these issues, I knew that I would have to work hard at maintaining a relationship of sorts, which I do with my wife.

    However, once I went to YU for college and then got married thereafter , no further proof in this regard was necessary.My mother attended our daughters’ parties, graduations and proudly walked down the aisle at her granddaughter’s chasunah.

    We avoid discussing topics where disagreements can become nasty flare ups and we see each other in neutral venues and at occasions that do not provide any halachic or hashkafic issues. Channukah, Chol HaMoed Sukkos and Thanksgiving are days when we try to get together.

    I have read both of the books mentioned and I was not overly impressed with the tone of either book. I suspect that there is no one way of dealing with this issue because different families have different psychological issues, etc that have to be negotiated. However, the above snippet from R D Gottlieb is an excellent summary of my own navigation through these issues, which I am not sure that I could have navigated any differently.

  28. Since AJ mentioned it, I just want to announce that Azriela is joining our group of contributors and we are very excited about having her write for us here on Beyond BT.

    G-d willing we’ll be posting her first piece in the next few weeks.

  29. My Mom and Wife read that book and did not like it much either.

    A better book might be ” What Do You Mean, You Can’t Eat in My Home?
    A Guide to How Newly Observant Jews and Their Less Observant Relatives Can Still Get Along” it is by Azriela Jaffe.

    My parents were not too happy at first “Do you have to be sooo Jewish?” But they are coming around and I think they really appreciate how the kids are being raised and educated. They still won’t stick around for Shabbos though.

  30. “The reporter might also be interested in reading “Black Becomes a Rainbow:”

    I was so annoyed when I read this book many years ago that I wrote the author a long letter explaining that not all Baalei Teshuva are as difficult as her daughter was.

    My parents were amazing. My mom, a”h, well understood the peace of mind that came with my hanging out to all hours on Saturday nights with a wholesome bunch of teens having kumsitzes rather than hanging out at bars like some of my other high school classmates. She enjoyed our camaraderie so much that our house often was the focal point for gatherings of the local NCSY chapter.

    My dad respectfully challenged my growth in turn helping me to better understand what I was doing and why.

    For my part, I tried as much as possible not to make waves in the house. Even after I got married, my wife and I, with guidance from sensitive Rabbanim, were able to be extremely lenient for the sake of Shalom Bayis.

  31. Maybe Rabbi Dovid Gottlieb has some insight to offer to the reporter ?

    I find his “Coming Home” very interesting.

    Below I pasted some citations from the text:

    “The most painful part of the transition was reaching mutual respect and understanding with my parents, a”h – which may have happened quicker if I had met my wife sooner. But even there, the end was a solid success.”

    “Finally, vis-à-vis parents, one should stress how the values they taught helped bring him to his present position. Often differences over Shabbos or kashrus wrongly overshadow the essential ultimate commitments that they share. His parents taught him the value of honesty, justice, love, sensitivity, scholarship, courage, independence and sincerity. These are a basis for attraction to a way of life that has represented and realized these values for millennia.”

  32. The reporter might also be interested in reading “Black Becomes a Rainbow: The Mother of a Baal Teshuvah Tells Her Story”(Agi L. Bauer, Feldheim 1991), which is about an Australian Baalas Teshuva’s reconciliation with her family. It’s out of print now, but available on Amazon.

  33. My relationship with my parents only improved. Since my parents knew very little about orthodoxy, they were quite intertested and even accompanied me too some family shabbaton’s. They appreciated the warm nature of the orthodox communities and took it upon themselves to begin learning on their own. Less than a year after I became observant, my father started started learning weekly with Partners In Torah and putting on Tefillin daily. They moved to be closer to a local Chabad shul that they liked and eventually koshered the kitchen. And probably the biggest achievement and victory was that they sent my little brother for a year in Israel at Ohr Somayach even before college and he went to public school, not day school. These changes have basically all happened in the past three to four years and I feel truly blessed to have been able to m’karev my own family. I guess as a BT, its a great feeling to go home and spend shabbat with my family and have our parents bless us on shabbat.

  34. My relationship with my mother at that time, pertaining to religion, was awful. My mom came from a Reform family, and knew virtually nothing about Judaism (which makes it even more of a ness that I am where I am today, B”H). She was sure I was part of a cult. We’ll never forget the Shabbos when my husband was trying to say over a Dvar Torah at the table, and she said to him “aren’t those all fairy tales”. He couldn’t understand how someone of her generation could be so uninformed.

    Because my transition was so slow, each time I came to visit her (she lived in FL), I’d advanced to a new level of kashrut, which she couldn’t, of course, comprehend. She’d complain that last time I came to visit I’d each such and such, and now I wouldn’t. One of the inadvertantly funny occurances was when my husband and I came to spend a few days, and we kept telling her not to do a thing, we’d take care of food issues. Since she lived in W Palm Beach, kosher food was abundant. But she meant well and went and bought two sets of dishes. Well, by the time Shabbos dinner was over, she’d already treifed up the fleigshig dishes. My mom hated paper plates, and being a Jewish mother at least culturely, was sure we’d starve.

    At our Sheva Brachos, my mom asked a particular Rabbi who has been one of the most important influences to me, “don’t you people make things harder on yourselves”. She couldn’t have asked him a better question – since kiruv is his niche, and they proceeded to have a lively conversation.

    To be continued…….

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