Ode to a BT-FFB “Intermarriage”

Heaven sent my wife to be my soul mate here on earth,
Although we grew up differently, ‘cause she’s a frum-from-birth.

Her father works in chinuch at a choshuv institution,
On Saturdays, my dad just reads his books on evolution.

Her kollel brother has written many seforim through the years,
My brother went to “Temple” once, but he was bored to tears.

Her sister tends to seven kids and runs a clothes gamach,
My sister cashiers at McDonald’s just around the block.

The list goes on, I’m sad to say, it really gets much worse,
The point is that I feel I’m from a different universe.

We have no shalom bayis problems, a great thing that I wish you,
But privately I really see an underlying issue.

It’s all bershert I didn’t choose a BT for my wife,
But naturally she can’t relate to things from my past life.

It’s challenging to talk with her, of course she’s not to blame,
But I wish someone would understand the things I overcame.

This websites nice, don’t get me wrong, I do have what to say,
But it’s not a substitute for what’s on my mind each day.

I wish more often I could find perhaps some validation,
For the feelings I have deep inside from my life situation.

A BT might come on Shabbos, we would schmooze way past the meal,
He would nod his head and say, “I know exactly how you feel…

My siblings all have married out, their words I’m always dreading,
‘Just because she’s not a Jew, you won’t come to my wedding?!’”

We’d laugh about the treif old songs, the kind that make you hiss,
But when I hear them in the mall, I like to reminisce.

It’s fun to exchange stories how we found our Yiddishkeit,
“Well, first I tried out India, but said, ‘This just ain’t right!’”

And silly comments come to mind, (I’ve made quite a few),
“Aharon’s name is Cohen, but his brother is Rabbeinu??”

And to this day I still goof up: “Kag Samayack!” I exclaimed,
But when my kids corrected me, I really felt ashamed.

I really feel quite fortunate, don’t mean to moan and groan,
But even with a family, sometimes I feel alone.

Perhaps I need to make more friends, to be a bit outgoing,
This is all just part of life, as long as I keep growing.

Originally posted in October 2010

13 comments on “Ode to a BT-FFB “Intermarriage”

  1. My parents are BTs, they will never deny,
    I grew up knowing this, so perhaps that is why,
    when it came time for me to find someone to marry,
    of dating a BT I was not wary.
    I’m proud of my husband’s choices, quite a lot,
    because he loves mitzvos, a Torah lifestyle he sought.
    Of course there are family challenges abound,
    but honestly, do these only depend on your background?
    I love my in-laws, most certainly do,
    because they raised a man who is so proud to be a Jew.
    We raise our son with the principle I learned from my parents fantastic,
    to love ALL our family, regardless of what they may practice.

  2. My parents are BTs, I will never deny
    I’m proud of their choices, and about their past they are not shy.
    Perhaps this is why when looking to marry,
    of marrying a BT I was not wary.
    On him a Torah lifestyle was never pushed or shoved,
    he came to it on his own, because mitzvos he loved.
    The family challenges, yes they are there,
    but because I saw these with my parents I was better prepared.
    I respect and love my in-laws too,
    for raising a man who to his values he remains true.
    I hope the day will soon come along,
    that my son will know that his Abba, the baal teshuva, is incredibly strong.
    And just as I learned from my parents fantastic,
    we teach our son to love all our family, regardless of what they practice.

  3. Very moving. The underlying pain is palpable. Maybe we are making a mistake trying so hard to integrate–maybe we need to find koach amongst ourselves…..

  4. Thanks, Judy, you really are too kind,
    People who understand are hard to find,

    When one asks me, “What school did you attend?”
    I answer, “One I wouldn’t recommend.”

    “I DO eat gebrucks,” I emphasize,
    (My dad never did otherwise.)

    At my bar mitzvah, the wrong parsha I lained,
    But the money poured in, I never complained.

    I could go on, it’s just too much fun.
    but it’s always better to talk to someone.

  5. Ross Kryger’s poem was really great,
    To his feelings we all can relate.

    I’m a BT married to an FFB too,
    Ross’ feelings are valid, I can tell you.

    I can’t get the “ch” it comes out as “k”
    “Hechsher” is written but “hecksher” I say.

    At my son’s vort they asked, “What school are you from?”

    “Was it a Bais Yaakov from which you come?”

    I looked at my questioner, stood straight and proud,
    “Midwood High School,” I admitted aloud.

    The other woman fled, aghast at the news,
    That I had gone to a public high school with non-Jews.

    My husband smiled when I told him. “What if you were a Giyores?”

    “And the high school you went to was Saint Rose or Saint Agnes?”

    Six of my seven kids are married now, no need to worry,

    The last one is only twenty, so he’s not in a hurry.

    Do your best to parent your FFB daughters and sons,
    With love and respect, they are the important ones.

    Ross Kryger, you are great, and your poem is all right,

    A Gitta Voch to all, and to all a Good Night!

  6. Thanks Eliot. Yes, only we can understand. Life is fun, isn’t it?

    I’m not sure why my father took such a big role in this, but I am actually quite proud of him. He’s extremely honest in business, and very sincere. So big deal that he thinks he was once an ape. He doesn’t seem to act like one ;)

  7. And besides…we don’t know anything about his father from this poem! There are plenty of folks out there who have not earned the right to have others be proud of them.

    For the sake of argument, what if he weren’t proud of him? Why is that a sin, as long as he is keeping kibud av ve aim? Why do you assume you WOULD be proud of him, when nothing else was said about him?

  8. Charles,

    Ross did not say that he was not proud of his father. What he wrote was that the jewish content of his father’s life was lacking, and that contrast created differences in perspective in his marriage and family which was hard for him to bridge.

    Please do not “read between the lines” and judge him for expressing an opinion on a personal topic. Or else no one will write for this blog at all.

  9. Hi, there, Ross. I haven’t checked into Beyond BT for a while, and I’m glad I caught your poem. Very poignant and wistful. I’m also in the “mixed” marriage you rhyme so well. Only we can understand.

  10. This is just wonderful! What a talented writer!!

    He should continue to grow and to find a good friend to share his angst with!

  11. “On Saturdays, my dad just reads his books on evolution.”

    I’d be more proud of your father, myself. A pity you aren’t.

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