Why Do Comment Spammers Hate BTs

As the blog has grown in popularity over the past six months or so, the comment spammers have taken notice. For those of you that are unaware, comments spammers flood blog comment sections in the hopes that you’ll click on their link and improve their Google page ranking.

In order to keep the overwhelming majority of this spam from actually hitting the blog for public consumption, we employ a fairly strong filtering mechanism. On a given day, we filter and delete literally hundreds of spam comments.

Unfortunately, the filter will catch many, many non-spam comments as well. When this happens, the comment will most likely be placed in a moderation queue and will be approved and posted within the hour (yes, we have no lives).

Recently we had certain words cause a comment or two to disappear into the vast infinity of hyperspace, never to be heard from again and some of you emailed us. We’ve removed those triggers, so the worst that will happen to your comment is that it will go into moderation.

We are investigating other means of addressing the spam problem. In the meantime, if your comment does not appear immediately, please be assured that we are not moderating comments and we have not “banned” you from commenting. In life, striking the balance between keeping out the “bad” while letting in the “good” is no simple task. The same goes for filtering out the spam while allowing your comments to be freely posted. Bear with us and, please, keep on commenting!

Beyond BT Melava Malka

It was a very nice event. We had about 35 people mostly from Kew Gardens Hills, with Gil Student and Rabbi and Mrs Dovid Schwartz coming in from Brooklyn. Ezzie Goldish was there as well as Beyond BT contributors Steve Brizel, David Kirschner, Marty Fleisher and other Beyond BT readers and commentors whose anonymity we’ll respect.

The inspiration and entertainment was provided by Gedalia from Monsey who described his journey from a traditional Jewish upbringing through a period as a lyricist and musicial performer in clubs in Greenwich Village such as the Bottom Line. A trip to Poland and subsequently to Israel was the beginning of Gedalia’s awakening. He chose the path of immersion in Torah study and has been learning for approximately 10 years, currently in a Kollel in Monsey.

Gedalia interspersed his story with songs that he had chosen from the over 100 that he has written in his life. Gedalia explained that learning Torah now fills the place that songwriting previously occupied, but he enjoys very much performing and giving chizuk to his audiences. Toward the end of the show he answered questions from the audience. He pointed out that BTs and FFBs have the same obligation to learn and do mitzvos. The only difference being the starting point but every Jew, BTs and FFBs alike, have things that they have to work on.

The menu of pizza and ice cream sundaes seemed to satisfy and there was plenty of good conversation both before and after the show. Thanks to everybody who came out to celebrate Beyond BT’s one year anniversary.

Please RSVP for the Beyond BT Melava Malka

The Melava Malka is one week away on December 2nd at 8:00 PM and it would be great if all those planning to attend would RSVP to let us know you’re coming.

The location is Congregation Ahavas Yisroel, 147-03 73rd Avenue in Kew Gardens Hills . The cost is $5 per person and we’re serving Pizza and Ice Cream. Some people are afraid of coming to Queens and getting lost, but this address is really easy: just take the Grand Central or the Van Wyck to Jewel Avenue eastbound to Main Street (or take the LIE to Main Street). Once you’re on Main Street go to 73rd Avenue and make a left, and go one long block to CAY. That’s just one turn off of Main Street!

The inspiration and entertainment will be a show entitled “Searching for Meaning – A BTs Spiritual Journey in Music and Monologue”, performed by a new friend whom Rabbi Lam introduced to us.

Please RSVP either in the comments or by email at beyondbt@gmail.com.

Here are two pictures from the Melava Malka after the Shabbaton:



A Cheshbon Hanefesh at Beyond BT

With Rosh Hoshana just around the corner, it behooves us to review our actions to determine which ones we are happy with and which ones we would like to improve upon. The same holds true for Beyond BT.

A few of the things we are happy with are:

1. With rare exception, the civil tone of the blog;
2. The variety of points of view being presented in both the posts and the comments;
3. The new friends and connections that have been made online and off;
4. The way the blog has been able to raise and present issues affecting BTs and the broader Jewish community;
5. That many people have told us that the blog has helped them with BT and growth related issues and has filled a void.

Some of the things, we would like to improve upon are:

1. Increasing the number of contributors to the blog; (If you are interested, please contact us at beyondbt@gmail.com)
2. Gaining more support and assistance for offline events like Melave Malkes and Shabbatons;
3. Increasing the awareness of the site to all who might benefit or be able to contribute;
4. Expanding the tent of Torah so more people will feel accepted and supported on their growth path;
5. Increasing the awareness that the site is not a monolithic, one size fits all approach;

We want to thank all those who read, comment and contribute to the site and we wish you all a Kesiva V’Chasima Tova.

Kiruv Training Seminar in Kew Gardens Hills on September 10 – 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM

Kiruv Training Seminar in Kew Gardens Hills

September 10, 2006 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM
Seminar in Outreach Techniques presented by experienced leaders of Aish HaTorah and the Orthodox Union.

Have you always wanted to share in the vital mitzvah of Kiruv? (…but thought it took too much time, or a different skill set)

Are you involved in Kiruv and would like to hone your skills?

Want to add a new aspect to your spirituality for the Yamim Ha-Noraim?

Looking for cutting edge tools to share with fellow Jews?

THEN… make sure to be at a Seminar in Outreach Techniques presented by experienced leaders of Aish HaTorah and the Orthodox Union. You will have the opportunity to form an ongoing group of caring outreach friends in your area.

Join us at Congregation Etz Chaim on Sunday 9/10/06 following 7:00 PM Mincha/Maariv.

For more information contact: Stewart Weinberg or Barry Gavarin

Rabbi Dr. Akiva Tatz and Rabbi Dovid Orlofsky will be speaking at Ohel Yosef at Yeshiva M’Kor Boruch in Passaic at 7:30 PM on Wednesday night

Rabbi Dr. Akiva Tatz and Rabbi Dovid Orlofsky will be speaking at Ohel Yosef at Yeshiva M’Kor Boruch in Passaic at 7:30pm on Wednesday night. Rabbi Tatz’s lecture is entitled “Ordeals and the Development of the Spirit” and Rabbi Orlofsky’s lecture will be “Beyond Apples and Honey”.

More details can be found at http://ohr.edu/web/passaic2006.htm.

Chayei Olam – A Second Stage Kiruv Organization

A few weeks ago we spoke with Reb Yoel Goldberg and Rabbi Leib Shear co-founders of Chayei Olam, a new second stage kiruv program. They have created an organizations which is squarely directed at many of the Beyond BT readers. In the hours we spent in conversation they showed their awareness and concern for the issues that Baalei Teshuva face. They listened carefully to the input we gave as a result of our experiences here at Beyond BT. We hope those who can, take advantage of the services they are offering. Below is an article published in a local Monsey paper which highlights the goals of the organization.

Yomim Tovim are around the corner. Are we ready for the task? Are we familiar with its many rituals? Do we understand the meaning behind all the tefilos on Yomim Noraim? What’s in the honey we will be dipping into so often throughout Tishrei? Why does such a seemingly benign tefiloh as Kol Nidrei evoke such emotion? Why are men spending so much time and money on Arba Minim?

If questions such as these have been on your mind, then you’re not alone. So many of us have not had the time or opportunity to delve into the meaning of so much of what we practice. Many of us also may have not learned the intricacies of Halacha and Minhagim growing up. A Chayei Olam shiur on varied and timely topics of interest may just be for you.
Read more Chayei Olam – A Second Stage Kiruv Organization

We Appreciate Your Appreciation

We often get letters of appreciation and we like to share them from time to time to show our appreciation for your expressions of appreciation. Thanks!

Your website is fantastic. I have been chozer b’tshuva for 10 yrs. now. Your website creates a brilliant forum that brings us BTs together to give and receive support for our difficult battles. It is nice to know that there are so many people willing to share their wisdom through past experiences. Whether your beyondbt contributors have been frum for 1 month or 30 years, their insights are so important. We need all the help in the world. Thank you.

-D-

Pre Shabbos Links

Lenny Solomon (of Shlock Rock) has released a new album which contains a song about Rabbi Lazer Brody. You can read the lyrics and download the song on Rabbi Brody’s blog .

YU has a great video paying tribute to Israel’s Soldieres. (Thanks to Rabbi Mordechai Scher for the link.)

A Simple Jew is looking for some quality Jewish heavy metal music.

Israel still needs our financial support and you help with matching funds of as much as $3 for every $1. You can read about the details here.

Pre Shabbos Links and Notes

The Jewish Heritage Center High Holiday Retreat is one of the best places to spend your Rosh Hashana. They have great lectures by Rabbi Label Lam, Rabbi Moshe Schwerd, Dr Gila Schwerd, Rabbi Yitzchok Wurem and Rabbi Ronnie Greenwald. The davening led by Rabbi Yossi Singer is fantastic and there is also a beginner’s service and singles programming. And to top it off, many Beyond BTers will be attending including Mark, David, Rabbi Lam and others. Call them at 718 575-3100 to make your reservations.

Leandro Katz & Matías Duek are two new friends from Buenos Aires, Argentina who read Beyond BT and have started there own Teshuva blog in Spanish, Mi abuelo tenía razón (My Grandfathers Were Right). If you don’t understand Spanish, you can use Alta Vista’s Babel Fish to translate.

Rishona has started a new web forum for Orthodox Jews-Of-Color.

Rabbi Noson Weisz on The Economic Model of Torah Reality.

Rebbetzin Heller on the Path of Teshuva (Where to Begin).

Links & Shabbaton Stuff

Some shiurim from Tisha B’Av of interest:

Rabbi Welcher gave a great short (due to scheduling concerns) Tisha B’Av shiur which can be downloaded here in which he emphasized the need to do chesed beyond our comfort zone.

R’ Moshe Schwerd, a good friend and Beyond BT reader gave a great shiur on “Rebuilding the Beis Hamikdash – Rebuilding Ourselves”, which can be downloaded here.

The Shabbaton is less than 6 hours away and we’re making the last minute preparations. Luckily the weather is forecast to be cooler and the air conditioning at Congregation Ahavas Yisroel was working as of this morning (Bli Ayin Hora). On Tisha B’Av during the showing of the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation video, the air conditioning stopped functioning and about 180 packed-in people watched the video as the indoor temperature reached into the 80’s. David thought we would have to rename the Shabbaton to “Beyond AC”.

We are looking forward to meeting everyone (over 100 adults and children are attending!) tonight and here is the intinerary:
Read more Links & Shabbaton Stuff

The Deadline for the Shabbaton Is Coming

This is the last reminder that THE SHABBATON IS COMING! We had a good logistics meeting last night and we’re very exciting about the close to 90 people who will be spending, what will G-d willing be, a wonderful Shabbos together. If you are thinking about coming, the deadline is tonight.

It is truly fitting that we are having it on Shabbos Nachamu. After mourning the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash as a result of Sinas Chinim (senseless hatred) on Tisha B’Av, we have the opportunity to make some real amends by caring, respecting and strengthening one another in our Avodas Hashem.

For those of you who can’t make it, G-d willing we’ll have other opportunities to meet. Of course we hope everyone will continue reading, commenting and contributing to Beyond BT as we build this very real virtual Jewish community into a place of learning, growing and giving.

Join us by RSVPing to beyondbt@gmail.com or calling 917 992-xxxx.

The cost is $25 per adult, $18 for 18 and under, $12 for 12 and under, $5 for 5 and under and babies are free. Here is the schedule.

Friday
6:20 – Mincha/Maariv at CAY (Congregation Ahavas Yisroel)
7:30 – Friday Night Meal- Group meals in selected homes
10:00 – Oneg at the Linns
Shabbos Day
8:30 – Davening at CAY, Jewish Heritage Center or other local Shuls
11:00 – Light Kiddush at CAY
12:30 – Lunch at CAY – 1-2 Short Divrei Torah, people telling their Teshuva Stories and sharing other thoughts
3:30 – 5:00 – Rest, Walk, Shmooze
5:00 – Shiur by Rabbi Yakov Haber
6:00 – Mincha at CAY
7:00 – Shalosh Seudos at CAY – 1-2 Short Divrei Torah, more stories, more thoughts
8:57 – Maariv
9:30 – 11:00 Havdalah – Melave Malka – Beyond BT Jam Band (in formation)

One on One

What often gets lost in the constant news and statistics of the ongoing war in eretz yisroel is the singular plight of each family, each soldier, each individual.

The Midrash relates:During the war against Midyon, for each person who went out to war there was a person designated to pray and learn for him.

The Bostoner Rebbe and HaRav Kook of Rechvot have started a program where they are asking individuals who find themselves in danger and all soldiers who wish to have someone designated to learn and daven for them to submit their names. Those wishing to receive a name of a “partner” to learn and daven for should email maortlmo@bezeqint.net.

May all of the efforts of our brethren in Eretz Yisrael and our prayers merit a speedy and succesful end to this trial and the safe return of all of our soldiers.

The Beyond BT Shabbaton – A Shabbos of Appreciation and Connection

One of the recurring themes on Beyond BT is that every Jew’s unique pursuit of Avodas Hashem is precious, inspiring and uplifting. Of course, we have a special place in our hearts for the journeys of those who did not have the benefit of a Torah-based upbringing, but nonetheless persevered to make Torah the driving force in their lives.

It is against that backdrop that we are encouraging you to join us for the Beyond BT Shabbaton where we will share our challenges, victories and inspirational thoughts as we truly focus on the greatness of every Jew. We are encouraging everybody who wishes, to share part of their story (in 10 minute slices) and in the process help us create deeper respect, appreciation and connection with one another and have a lot of fun in the process.

So please join us by RSVPing to beyondbt@gmail.com or calling 917 992-xxxx.

We have one slight scheduling change. We are encouraging people to arrive in KGH in time to make the 6:20 PM Mincha minyan at Congregation Ahavas Yisroel with the Friday night meals (with soup) beginning at around 7:30 PM. This way we can have a leisurely meal and still head over to the Linns at around 10:00 PM for an Oneg. If you can’t make it that early, let us know and we will make alternative Friday night meal arrangements.

The cost is $25 per adult, $18 for 18 and under, $12 for 12 and under, $5 for 5 and under and babies are free.

Friday
6:20 – Mincha at CAY (Congregation Ahavas Yisroel)
7:30 – Friday Night Meal- Group meals in selected homes
10:00 – Oneg at the Linns
Shabbos
8:30 – Davening at CAY, Jewish Heritage Center or other local Shuls
11:00 – Kiddush at CAY
12:30 – Lunch at CAY – 1-2 Short Divrei Torah, people telling their Teshuva Stories and sharing other thoughts
3:30 – 5:00 – Rest, Walk, Shmooze
5:00 – Shiur by Guest Speaker
6:00 – Mincha at CAY
7:00 – Shalosh Seudos at CAY – 1-2 Short Divrei Torah, more stories, more thoughts
8:57 – Maariv
9:30 – 11:00 Havdalah – Melave Malka – Beyond BT Jam Band (in formation)

The Shabbaton is Coming – And We Hope You’ll Be Joining Us

The Beyond BT Shabbaton is scheduled for Shabbos Nachamu (August 4-5), in Kew Gardens Hills and we would really love for you to join us. The focus of the Shabbaton is connecting with our fellow Jews, face to face. We want people to develop a deeper appreciation of each other and take a small step towards creating the tight knit and truly caring Jewish community that we all desire.

We want to emphasize that all Jews, be they BTs, FFBs, Partially Observant or Non Observant, are encouraged to join us.

The program will be centered around people telling their own stories and sharing other thoughts in short 5-7 minute chunks throughout the communal meals. Everybody is encouraged to share, but if that’s not your thing, that’s fine too. We’re also going to try to arrange the meals so that people will sit with and have the opportunity to converse with the greatest number of people.

It is very important that we have your reservations as soon as possible so that we can properly arrange for housing and catering.

Here’s the preliminary itinerary. Let us know what you think.

7:20 – Mincha at CAY (Congregation Ahavas Yisroel)
8:30 – Friday Night Meal- Group meals in selected homes
10:15 – Oneg at the Linns

8:30 – Davening at CAY, Jewish Heritage Center or other local Shuls
11:00 – Kiddush at CAY
12:30 – Lunch at CAY – 1-2 Short Divrei Torah, people telling their Teshuva Stories and sharing other thoughts
3:30 – 5:00 – Rest, Walk, Shmooze
5:00 – Shiur by Guest Speaker (two very good prospects but waiting for a final committment)
6:00 – Mincha at CAY
7:00 – Shalosh Seudos at CAY – 1-2 Short Divrei Torah, more stories, more thoughts
8:57 – Maariv
9:30 – 11:00 Havdalah – Melave Malka – Beyond BT Jam Band (in formation)

The cost is $25 per adult, $18 for 18 and under, $12 for 12 and under, $5 for 5 and under and babies are free.

Please join us. It should be a great time. Please email us at beyondbt@gmail.com to let us know
you’re coming and with any scheduling recommendations.