BT 2.0

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.

4 comments on “BT 2.0

  1. Let’s not presume to know other people’s reactions and motivations on this scale. We hardly know what another BT goes through, much less an FFB.

  2. I don’t think anyone is ever really Beyond Beyond BT, as somehow, no matter how long its been since we decided to become officially shomer mitzvot, we still strive to grow and stretch on some level, some more some a bit less intense, but we all recognize the need to grow and move forward, nearly unilaterally. An FFB may think they can coast (I’m not saying they all do) as they do what they’ve grown up with and just continue doing what is naturally comfortable for them. Their lifestyle may be similar to their parents, or have some slight variations, but for the most part, as long as they remain shomer mitzvot, most parents will shep nachas from them and they will feel they can continue in the tradition they’ve always know. I think that nearly all BTs recognize that if they’re not moving forward they most definitely are moving backwards, and they know better than FFBs how far they can slide back without feeling too uncomfortable – after all, they can slide back to the level where they grew up, thinking, my parents didn’t turn out so bad after all. A rebellious FFB looks at sign advertising lobster dinner and might think this would really put himself past the point of no return. A non-rebellious, coasting FFB would look at a sign for lobster and think, ew, gross, who could ever consider eating such a creature? A BT might look at the same sign and think, I remember what that tastes like, but I’ve worked so hard to get where I am now that I choose not to go back there. Completely different approaches.

    We should ALL be Ba’alei Teshuva, Masters of Repentance, wherever we are or wherever we come from. In that light, we can all gain from the conversations started by these two mensches from Queens.

  3. Neil, One might come to the conclusion that a some point he/she is Beyond Beyond BT.

    This might be a mistake in that as BTs we have a set of common deficiencies (learning, parental support systems, frum role models…) and often a common set of strengths like growth-orientation, enthusiasm and an idealistic outlook.

    It makes sense to work together on the weaknesses and to leverage our collective strengths in our quest to become better Jews.

Comments are closed.