1. Listen to the wise advice of Pirkei Avos. Make yourself a rabbi and acquire yourself a friend. It’s essential to have a reachable rabbi who has a good brain, a good heart, a sense of humor and lots of practical good sense. It’s also important to have an understanding and patient friend whom you can cry on, vent on and kvetch on.
2. Don’t be like the guy who’s always changing the hands on his wristwatch whenever he spots a different time on someone else’s. Maybe, just maybe, the other guy is wrong! And that’s even if the other guy is an FFB going back to the Vilna Gaon. That’s why you need the reachable rabbi and the patient friend mentioned in #1.
3. Having too much money will never be a problem again.
4. Having too much leisure time will also never be a problem again.
5. Angels are perfect. Human beings, even if they wear black hats or sheitels, are not.
6. It is the most wonderful experience in the world to be a grandparent to frum from birth grandchildren. Unfortunately, you first have to pass through a stage known as Being a Parent. Being a parent to frum children is a three-way race to see what you lose first: all your sanity, all your money, or all your hair.
7. Parts of New York are their own planet.
8. Do one tremendous awesome Yom Kippur to atone for all of those sins in your previous non-frum existence. From then on, take it one year at a time.
9. Learn to read Hebrew. You don’t need to actually speak it, unless you’re planning on moving to Israel. You do, however, need to learn frummisher sprach (all of those Yiddish-Yinglish-whatever slangy expressions which are sprinkled through FFB speech). “Our b’chor won Chosson Bereishis on Simchas Torah at his Yeshiva Gedola by pledging to learn two thousand blatt.” “Bli ayin harah, my machatenesta is in remission from yenem’s machalah.” “The rav’s aynekel’s bris was on Shabbos Chol Hamoed, so they invited the entire kehillah to a fleishige seudah in the shul sukkah.” English, of course, right? But would anyone not part of our culture understand what you were trying to say?
10. Reach out beyond your reachable rabbi and your patient friend to a support group, like the people right here at Beyond BT dot com.
11. Distinguish between those family members who are supportive and those who are toxic. Spend quality time with those who are supportive and caring. Send Rosh Hashanah cards once a year to those who are not.
12. Gehinnom was created on Erev Shabbos. That’s why Fridays are frantic and stress-filled no matter whether sunset is four-thirty or eight-thirty.
13. Bosses are generally more willing to let you leave early on Friday if you work late on Thursday. The problem is, that’s also when you have to shop and cook for Shabbos. So say goodbye to any chance of getting to sleep at a decent hour Thursday nights.
14. If you have two cents the kids’ yeshivos will take it. See Number Three above.
15. Find a spouse who’s in it for the long haul.
16. Pray to G-d a lot.
I’m sure my fellow BT’s out there will have their own tips, strategies and survival secrets to pass along to new BT’s (hopefully without scaring them off). Originally Posted on Jan 19, 2010.