07 August 2016

Children of Baalei Teshuva / Converts / Something to Think About During These 9 Days

Something to think about in these 9 days leading up to Tisha B'Av

from an article by Rabbi Berl Wein Shlit”a

In the time of the Mishna (250 BCE to 200 CE) there were many Greek and Roman converts to Judaism. Shmaya and Avtalyon, the teachers of Hillel, were converts. Rabi Akiva was descended from a father who was a convert. In fact his "pedigree" in the Talmud traces itself back to Sisera, the Canaanite general slain by Yael in Devorah the prophetess' war against Yavin, the Canaanite king of Chatzor. Rabi Meir was descended from the Roman emperor Nero and Onkelos, the great translator of the Bible from Hebrew into Aramaic was also descended from the Roman royal family.

  • […] The Torah bids the Jew to be kind and welcoming to converts - in fact, it does so thirty-six times, more than any other commandment in the Torah. Thus, the Torah places a great burden on the Jew as well as on the non-Jew when it comes to conversion issues. Hence the traditional circumspection in the matter.
  • […]becoming Jewish places greater obligations on the person than before conversion. Jews are held liable for the non-observance of Shabbat, kashrut and other matters of ritual Jewish life. But non-Jews are not. A convert who becomes Jewish but is not observant of Jewish law and ritual, is in far worse spiritual condition. It is because of the incidence of insincere and/or improper conversions over Jewish history that the rabbis have been consistent in their scrupulous examination of prospective converts.
  • […] In the Middle Ages, some of the renowned scholars of the Tosafists (twelfth to fourteenth century German, French and English Torah scholars) were converts or descended from converts.
  • […]In eighteenth century Vilna, a famous Count Potowcki, converted to Judaism and was executed by the Church for so doing. His grave was in the famous old Jewish cemetery, later destroyed by the progressive, tolerant Soviet Union. In the old cemetery, a great oak tree grew from his grave and it was in fact the landmark of that burial ground. He was buried adjacent to the grave of the Vilna Gaon, Rabbi Eliyahu. A number of decades ago, Rabbi Pinchas Teitz of Elizabeth, New Jersey was successful in reburying the remains of the Gaon and of the "righteous convert," Count Potowcki, in a new cemetery in Vilna, as well as the remains of a number of other famous personages.



The Yeshiva World and the Children of Baalei Yeshiva
by Catriel Sugarman

The following article contains some strong opinions, some which our readers may disagree with and/or find objectionable. Nevertheless, I have posted it here, because there are points made by the author that deserve our consideration. Yakov Horowitz

Ba’alei Teshuva—sometimes translated to mean “penitents,” but, more commonly used to refer to Jews from secular backgrounds who have become religiously observant, often hareidi, or ultra-Orthodox—have been held in high regard by Jewish tradition. In the Talmud (Berachot 34b), Rabbi Abbahu says: The [elevated] position that ba’alei teshuva attain, tzadikim gemurim [those who were always righteous] are unable to reach.”

Try telling that to AM, who recently wrote a controversial article in Mishpacha, a highly regarded English hareidi magazine, about “issues” ba’alei teshuva (BTs) face when they try to affiliate with various hareidi communities in Israel.

According to Ms. M, when it comes time to register their children in mainstream hareidi schools, the BTs are rejected, finding, to their dismay, that they were never really part of their chosen community after all.

This is true not only in Israel. In the United States, too, the children of BTs—along with the offspring of Jews of Sephardic background—are increasingly denied entry into mainstream hareidi schools.

Personal Experience

A resident of Ramat Beit Shemesh and a BT herself, Ms. M related her personal experience with the Israeli hareidi educational system. Her daughter’s class, composed almost entirely of children whose parents were BTs, was suddenly closed. Worse, no other hareidi school was willing to accept them.

This was true, she said, even of Beit Shemesh BT families that had been religious for more than a decade.

“The husband wears a long black coat and a streimel; the children are sweet and have long side curls, are raised to be modest and G-d-fearing, in homes without newspapers or a computer; good pure hareidi children—until they reach school age,” she wrote.

Ms. M’s angry conclusion was that the hareidim, the FFBs (frum—or observant—from birth) who engage in kiruv, or outreach, should curtail their efforts to bring non-observant Jews into the fold, “since they do not make any serious efforts to integrate them into their community anyway.”

“Why bother? Why convince [the BTs] to make such a difficult, painful change? Why call upon them to come and live a Torah lifestyle if no one has any intention of giving them the opportunity to live such a lifestyle? Perhaps the time has come to stop investing in outreach,” she wrote.

Harsh Reactions

Responses to her article came fast and furious, and some were surprisingly brutal. Advocates of the schools’ strict exclusionary policy cited the BTs’ secular relatives, expressing the fear that even second-hand encounters with non-religious people could do irremediable damage to the spiritual health of tender impressionable hareidi children.

In a letter to the editor, YB bluntly explained that BT children had to be kept out of mainstream hareidi schools because “the newly observant tend to meet with their non-religious relatives and the children are exposed to their relatives’ culture, their speech patterns, music, body language, and concepts.”

“I feel that the pain of the girl who has not been accepted is preferable to the anguish of families whose daughters are affected by a girl who was erroneously accepted,” wrote Ms. B.

ZBL a teacher in the hareidi community’s Beit Ya’akov girls school system, agreed. The hareidi community has “enough troubles with its own young people without importing ‘trouble’ from outside,” she wrote.

Not all responders agreed. Someone who identified on the Mishpacha website only as “Krum as a bagel” wondered what exactly was so offensive about “BT speech patterns.” “Is their language linguistically coded with kefirah?” Krum asked, using the Hebrew word for “heresy.” “Do they belly-dance when they talk?”

60,000 Strong

According to Rabbi Yitzhak Greenman, executive director of the New York branch of Aish Hatorah, there are roughly 60,000 BTs in the US, a number which may be a bit high.

While some insular hareidi communities in the US have virtually no BTs, others, such as the thriving Orthodox community of Passaic, NJ, are comprised overwhelmingly of the newly observant.

For BTs, problems arise when they try to assimilate into established hareidi communities in Brooklyn, such as Borough Park, Williamsburg, Crown Heights, and Flatbush, as well as Lakewood, NJ, and Monsey, NY.

“Dhimmis”

While the BTs’ problems with the hareidi community are not widely discussed, they have been recognized. Rabbi Chananya Weissman, whose organization, “End the Madness,” is dedicated to combating the “angst and hardships associated with dating in the religious Jewish community,” noted that while BTs are lauded and even admired for overcoming the challenges to achieve an observant lifestyle, they “never manage to shake the stigma of not being FFB.”

In a satirical piece entitled “The ‘Dhimmis’ among Us: Judaism’s Lower Class,” he compared BTs to the second-class status of Jews and Christians in Muslim communities. The BTs’ stigma, he wrote, is “even transferred to children and the extended family, as if it is a genetic defect of spiritual proportions.”

He pointed out that not only are the BTs’ children rejected by many hareidi institutions and denied positions of leadership in the yeshiva world, they also have “a significantly lower value on the shidduch market.”

“Nowadays, it has become completely mainstream for contestants to be made to divulge whether they are ba’alei teshuva, and, if so, for how long. Those who mush check this unfortunate box on the questionnaire are essentially branded as undesirables,” he said.

Prejudice

This unlovely and almost universal prejudice against BTs in certain Orthodox communities is seldom discussed, except on the blogosphere, where anonymity promotes abandoning all inhibitions, including halachic prohibitions.

Those who protest this growing phenomenon rarely reveal their names or offer any identifying information. The fear of being exposed and blackballed is pervasive and palpable.

It is not hard to find blatant anti-BT sentiments on the web. An example is “Avakesh,” overseen by a blogger who claims “he is a part of this world and actively teaches ba’alei teshuva.” Although “Avakesh” praises the kiruv movement as “an unquestioned blessing,” he nevertheless insists that “frumkeit is and always remains for a BT a coat.”

“No matter how well fitting and comfortable a favorite coat can be, it always remains a coat. In theory, at least, it can always be taken off. For a person born and bred in Torah, Judaism is and always will be his skin. He can no more take it off than a man can shed his skin,” he wrote.

Avakesh enumerated the “host of problems” that he said “fester beneath the surface of the BT community.” For Avakesh, these include “underground survival of secular attitudes,” “serious psychological imperfections,” “shallow understanding of the Torah,” and “rampant deficiency of Torah knowledge.”

Like Spanish Anusim

He compared today’s BTs to the Spanish anusim and their descendants, Jews who were forced by the Spanish Inquisition, beginning in 1492, to abandon their faith and adopt Christianity, but who, years later, returned to Judaism.

Avakesh maintained that from the ranks of the “thousands of wonderful, self-sacrificing Jews [who] streamed to Amsterdam and Turkey, seeking authentic Judaism and spiritual renewal,” came the “most devoted followers” of Shabbatai Tzvi, the notorious 17th century false messiah.

Avakesh also insisted that “the descendants of these same families gave rise to the Reform movement some time later.”

Little “Chani” and “Moshe”

The extremely questionable historical accuracy of Avakesh’s observations is emblematic of the entire problem. A responder who took umbrage at Avakesh’s diatribe, pointed to the harm of such malevolent generalizations.

“Somewhere in Brooklyn, little Chani’s friends won’t come over because her parents are BT—despite the fact that they spent five years learning in kollel and actually know the halacha and ask halachic questions—since all BTs are only ‘wearing a coat’ and ‘can’t be trusted on halacha,’” the responder wrote.

A shadchanit (matrimonial matchmaker) in Borough Park who has been active in her field for over 30 years, confirmed the observations of Rabbi Weissman and Avakesh’s responder. “Though no one will admit it openly, there’s a caste system at work here, just like in India. Except here, in certain communities, the BTs and their children are at the bottom of the heap. There are thousands of ‘little Chani’s’ (and ‘Moshe’s’) in all the frum neighborhoods where ba’alei teshuva live.”

Shunned Children

According to the shadchanit, FFB parents on “both sides of the Atlantic” can be “zealous” in barring the offspring of BTs from their own children’s circle of friends.

“They’ll have birthday parties and Shabbos programs for all the little girls in the neighborhood, but ‘somehow,’ Chani, the daughter of BTs, will never be invited,” she said. “It’s insidious, it’s heartbreaking, and the worse thing is that neither poor Chani nor her naïve BT parents will have the slightest idea why.”

According to the shadchanit, this happens despite common agreement that the affected children are “eidel” (delicate, sweet, and refined) and their parents frum and learned. When the children are rejected by a school, “the administrators make up every excuse in the world to justify not taking anyone with a different background,” she said.

All Over

She maintained that this happens even in the comparably open world of Lubavitch chasidim, known for establishing schools throughout the world for BT children as well as those from completely non-observant homes.

“The ‘real’ true-blue Chabadniks send their boys to Ohalei Torah in Crown Heights. You won’t find too many children of ba’alei teshuva there. There’s a word for that: segregation,” she said.

However, she admitted that the “Litvish yeshivish,” the term for hareidim who maintain the ultra-Orthodox tradition of the Lithuanian-Jewish communities (present-day Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia and the northeastern Suwałki region of Poland) “are the worst offenders.”

Sinas Chinom

She insisted that “sinas chinom” (causeless hatred), which, according to tradition, was the cause of the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, “would not be too strong a term to use for some of these people.”

“Their insistence on yichus [lineage, pedigree, distinguished birth] is nothing but an ego booster. Everybody knows—though no one will admit it—that plenty of children from yichusdik families, great rabbanim, and roshei yeshiva, go off the rails,” she said.

Even “if by a miracle,” the BT child, does get into a “good” school, her life will not be improved, said the shadchanit.

“They’ll make her miserable. She’ll be snubbed constantly by her classmates and even by her teachers who should—and do—know better,” she said. “She will be permanently tagged as the daughter of a BT—just like a leper—and even while her teachers prattle on about the importance of observing the mitzvos bein adam le’chaveiro [ethical commandments between human beings] and ‘kol Yisrael areivim zeh la’zeh’ [‘all Jews are responsible for each other’], she’ll be treated like dirt.”

“Harry”

In a letter published recently in Yated Ne’eman, a weekly English-language hareidi newspaper published in Monsey, a bewildered father expressed concern that his son had been labeled “a Harry” in school. It took the father some time to understand that, in “yeshivish,” “Harry” is an insulting term used by some FFBs to refer to a BT or his children.

The father came to learn that a “Harry” is someone who demonstrates some lack of familiarity with the subtleties—some of them truly infinitesimal—of yeshivish living. For example, although this “Harry” was an excellent student, he made the mistake of wearing white socks instead of black. Another “Harry” might wear his talit in an unusual way or tip his black fedora at an angle slightly different from what is accepted in his yeshiva.

“In general, if you consider yourself a member of the yeshiva world and do not know what a ‘Harry’ is, you probably are one,” the father wrote.

Principals and Parents

According to the shadchanit, responsibility for this “moral flaw in the system” lies with school principles and parents. For the schools, she said, “chinuch [education] has nothing to do with it.”

“The real reason for this unfortunate exclusionary policy is to ‘prove’ that they are better than the competition because their students come from ‘purer’ homes,” she said.

However, she added, she knew of at least three schools in Brooklyn and one in Lakewood in which the administrations were bullied by organized groups of parents who threatened to withdraw their children if the offspring of BTs were admitted.

Some of the “more prestigious seminaries,” she said, have parents’ committees whose “sole purpose” is to “winnow out” any “undesirables.”

“I actually heard people say that,” she said, explaining that the committees’ function is to make sure “no unworthy pretenders share the same classroom with their precious daughters.”

Thrown Out

She recalled an incident which involved her own neighbors, whom she described as “erliche yidden” [righteous Jews]. After graduating from college, the husband, a successful businessman, and his wife, an accountant, had adopted an observant lifestyle. After their marriage, he learned for four years in a well-renowned BT yeshiva in Israel while she attended a prestigious seminary for women.

When they completed their studies, they returned to Brooklyn where, a few years later, they attempted to register their son in a well-known yeshiva ketana [elementary school]. The principal met them at the door with a radiant smile and a twinkle in his eye, both of which grew broader when he realized they were not only BTs, but well versed as well.

But the smile vanished when he learned the purpose of their visit. “Since you are ba’alei teshuva, you, of course, realize that your son will never be able to internalize our derech [way of life] and hashkafa [outlook and philosophy]. He’d never fit in, and it would be a waste of our time and your money for us to take him,” he informed them.

According to the shadchanit, without another word, he literally threw her neighbors out of his office.

“The poor woman cried all the way home,” the shadchanit recalled, adding that, over the years, hundreds of BTs have confided to her, “some with tears in their eyes,” that they had no idea that after the sacrifices they had made for Yiddishkeit, it would still be almost impossible to integrate into the frum community.

Exceptions

There are exceptions. According to the shadchanit, BTs who have acquired great wealth, or who are fortunate enough to have parents who acquired it, or who have managed to acquire a sponsor “too prominent to be ignored,” can see their children accepted to schools.

“It can happen, but it’s rare,” she said.

One young couple learned this the hard way. The husband had become observant while still in his 20s and had studied for a number of years at a well-known yeshiva for BTs in New York and then, for two more years, in Israel. While in Israel, he met and married an accomplished young woman who had spent three years in well-known Jerusalem yeshiva for BT women.

Upon returning to the US, the young idealistic couple affiliated with a hareidi community, actively involving themselves in community programs and shiurim. They also contributed as superb volunteer fundraisers for the local yeshiva.

When the young couple’s son was ready for school, the yeshiva’s administration accepted him. The parents now say they did not realize the school officials were merely “biding their time.”

Merciless Bullying

Although, from the beginning, their child encountered some minor problems in school, when he entered the fourth grade, “the roof fell in.” According to the parents, he was taunted mercilessly and ostracized by his classmates, who often called him horrible names.

“Ben Nida was a favorite,” the father said, referring to the fact that, because the parents were BTs, the child was accused of being conceived without regard to the laws of family purity, a mortal insult in the hareidi world. “That name they could only have heard from their parents at home.”

The child came home from school every day in tears. “They spread malicious rumors about him and us. I can’t even imagine how many halachot bein adam le’chaveiro [ethical commandments between human beings] they violated And his classmates are children who come from supposedly good frum homes and learn Pirkei Avos—the Ethics of the Fathers—every week,” the mother said.

No Help from School

It was not long before the child developed severe stomach cramps and began having nightmares.

The distraught parents went repeatedly to the school, asking the principal and his teachers to intervene. “They would smile, make promises, and do nothing,” the father said.

After awhile, the parents said, they understood what was happening. “The principal and the teachers—men whom we had known for years—actually wanted our boy—and us—out. We were good enough to raise money for them and run their errands, but we were not good enough to have a son in their yeshiva. It hurt,” said the father. “In numerous places, the Torah commands us to treat proselytes with equity and sensitivity. Shouldn’t born Jews receive at least the same treatment as converts?”

Escape to Modern Orthodox

Although there were hashkafa issues, the couple managed to relocate to a Modern Orthodox community where their son was enrolled in one of the local schools and “blossomed.”

There, they met another family of “refugees” from the hareidi world. The second family had sought to enroll their child in a famous yeshiva ketana which was willing to enter into a “compromise” with BTs: Before the child was accepted, the parents had to agree to break off all relations with any family and friends who were not strictly observant.

“In addition, we had to commit ourselves to throw out any ‘goyishe’ [non-Jewish] books and pictures that we might still have—as if we had pornography hanging on our walls. Would you believe, the principal wanted us to sign a contract to that effect,” the mother said.

The family turned the school down and “moved out of the area as soon as we could sell the house.”

Five Torah Personalities

That this brutal treatment of non-Orthodox Jews by hareidim is a relatively new phenomenon was noted by Prof Yitzchak Levine, of the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ, and a frequent social commentator, who attended … [the] 2008 convention of the National Society for Hebrew Day Schools, Torah Umesorah.

At the convention’s Shabbos seuda shlishit, Rav Avraham Chaim Levin, rosh yeshiva of the Telshe Yeshiva in Chicago, recalled that, 40 years ago, there were eight boys in the eighth grade of Yeshiva Beth Yehuda in Detroit. Of those eight, he noted, five were not from shomer Shabbos homes, but all five went on to become “outstanding Torah personalities.”

Dr. Levine interpreted Rav Levin’s anecdote as praise for Torah Umesorah, which obviously had played a key role in the development of Orthodox Judaism in Detroit and in those five boys—who did not come from BT homes, but, rather, completely non-observant backgrounds.

What Example?

Dr. Levine turned to the gentleman sitting next to him at the convention and said, “You realize, I’m sure, that today those five boys could not get into most of the yeshivas in Brooklyn.”

The gentleman replied, “It was a different tekufa [era] then. We are no longer concerned with parents who send their kids to public schools. If someone wants to start a yeshiva for public school kids, then let him.”

Stunned at this flippant response, Dr. Levine ended the conversation, but, he said, he could not stop thinking about those five boys in Detroit. “Forty years from now, what will a rosh yeshiva have to point to that occurred in places like Brooklyn that will serve as an example of the exceptional accomplishments of Torah Umesorah?” he said.


Some names were reduced to initials for privacy. It is truly an upside/down world we live in. B”H after 120 there will be surprises and “justice” for all. But until then we hope and pray for Moshiach to correct all the injustices and evil that exists in this world . . . that should not be.

50 comments:

  1. it remains a test "min hashaymayim" for the BTs. we didn't become frum for others. as for the school issue, it is a ferociously painful problem. each child is a separate struggle and struggle we must. who knows why we were born BTs this time around? one reason could be to show hashem our true seriousness.

    past generations of jews have always exhibited tremendous mesirat nefesh to educate their children in the way of the torah and faced incredible tests and obstacles. why should it be any different for us? to throw in the towel and compromise is the easy path.

    there is an unbridgeable chasm between the worlds of the BT and FFB. the fact that the BTs don't realize this or the extent of this, is precisely part of the problem. but it is not a problem that can be solved exactly. it is not a matter of a good world vs a bad world either. just two TOTALLY different ways of thinking and relating to the world. and when the naive idealism and ignorance of the BT confronts the arrogance and bad middot in the FFB world, it is not pretty. and sorry to say, 5-10 years learning in a BT yeshiva or seminary cannot be compared to being born into the FFB lifestyle and tradition and relatives and whatever... it is what it is.

    I believe that we have no choice but accept that fact that we, as BTs, are being forced to constantly clarify our commitment to a Torah way of life for ourselves and our children, come what may--despite feeling like losers and/or treated badly and dishonestly, when we know we have so much to offer, and that we are worthy, even exceptional, Jews in many ways. this is still all part of the test and the mesirat nefesh jews have made for generations. it is for sure precious to hashem.

    it won't go on forever. the world is constantly changing. but we must have the strength of character, wisdom, humility and courage to choose and hang on to a Torah way of life for the sake of our children. how we act and what we decide today has ramifications on our own future generations.

    there are many practical ways to do this, but each family is a different story with different pressures. personally i have fought and continue to fight this war to keep my children on the path, so to speak. some have married FFBs, some not, some are more frum, some much less. but they all observe and value the torah and don't speak badly about the gedolei hador as so many do today. prayer is the single biggest weapon we have. if we really realized this, we wouldn't be wasting so much emotion on bad feelings.

    hashem will help. but sometimes it means putting down the ego, davening and fighting like a wildcat for what is truly important.

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  2. Oh.. My.. this is all very very sad and upsetting.

    I am not a Jew, i am Noahide..

    I thank Hashem now that though i tried many times with a deep longing to convert, that i did not.
    B'H.

    These so called frum Jews who do this to their own.. makes me shudder.

    Hashem is certainly not happy.
    Hashem would not care white socks orbla k. Hat or kippa or whatever.
    Hashem looks to the heart.

    What a shame that these who think they are better in serving Hadhem, thsn BT's....
    are actually doing wrong in Hashem's Eyes.

    What a shame.....

    S/C

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    1. This is really not how it is everywhere... People don't complain when things go well. Personally although I was born to a frum family we've been brought up to love all Jews regardless of background. Personally I wouldn't want to live in an ultra orthodox community and wouldn't necessarily want to send my kids to their schools. Derech Eretz Kadmah L'torah – meaning that “decency, kind behavior should precede Torah.” If a school doesn't teach that and show an example to the kids then I don't belong there.

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  3. Anon, 21:41
    This (article and its topic) is NOT the reason to choose for or against becoming religious/Jewish. Your choice should be because you recognize HaShem and want to live a Jewish life of Mitzvos and adherence to Halacha. It's not an easy life, as you can see. The rewards are much greater than the downside. However, it's a beautiful life, full of meaning. I thank HaShem for helping me be me, and thank him profusely for Eretz Yisrael and being able to live in HIS garden.

    Who said that their restrictive outlook is what HaShem prefers. Allegiance to G-D is the epitome. Remember, throughout history, the Jews were most persecuted by the non-Jews. We've been thru a lot.

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  4. there is always a bigger picture. everyone has to answer for their actions and choices. hashem sees everything and the wheels turn from generation to generation. there was a period of time in recent history in jerusalem when ashkenazim were discriminated against and persecuted by the sephardim--they turned them away, wouldn't accept them, etc. similar if not identical to today. this, of course, justifies nothing today. everyone will still answer for their own actions. but hashem holds all the chesbonot and things play out over time. we need to worry about our own choices without getting wrapped up in the us vs them mentality. after all, a person must seek community and not be overly-isolated.

    Jewish history has shown that we are undoubtedly our own worst enemies. the nations of the world come against us only because of our lack of unity. but i am sure this will work out in the end.

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    Replies
    1. Only read up to the part where you said ashkenazim were discriminated against and persecuted by sephardim and felt the need to comment on that. Prior to 1920/30's ashkenazim were the majority and discriminated against sephardim. Not that I'm justifying discriminating against the ashkenazim but the ashkenazim have a history of discrimination against sephardim which ultimately led to sephardim (once they became the majority) discriminating against the ashkenazim. In fact there still is a huge rift between ashkenazim and sephardim. And I can tell you from experience as a sephardi who went to a 99% ashkenaz high school that we were 100% discriminated against and looked at as lesser beings. Just thought I should mention that.

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  5. The sitra acra has taken hold of the Jewish world (chariedi, orthodox and, in general, the masses of unaffiliated and unobservant Jews). This is a terrible problem. We understand now very clearly why our great Sages prayed for Moshiach's coming, but did not want to be part of that era, as it would be too painful for them. We can now see why.

    The Baal Teshuva movement has been a great success bringing back so many Jews who were lost to Torah and, c'v, to Judaism for future generations. That those who were all for it would now shun these baalei teshuva who are more beloved to H' than the frum from birth Jew, is unconscionable. That their mode of dress or other mishegasim is what is important to them shows that their frumkeit means nothing (most likely maybe they might be Erev Rav as our Sages tell us that most rabbis and frumme Jews today are of the Erev Rav) and make problems or push away Jewish children from having a Torah education, is an abomination. No excuse whatsoever. This is not frumkeit and surely not the frumkeit of our forefathers and mothers.

    Instead we read about searching out converts; this is a chilul H'. The converts mentioned above in this article are the special gerei tzedek who, literally, had Yiddishe neshamot. Today, H' only knows how many are sincere converts or not. We never go out to seek them; a true ger tzedek seeks us out. It is the 'Jew' we need to be concerned about and that is why this is such a disgrace, pushing Yiddishe kinder, young and old alike, away after they have made the beautiful choice of coming back to their roots.

    The chareidi world has become sick maybe because of all the years under the thumb of bolshevik rule and hatred in E.Y. and the disintegrating morality of the world that we are part of and all its influences no matter how much one runs away from it; especially now with the internet/computer/digital world. Yeshivot who push away Jewish children because they're not from the right families, etc. are committing the greatest of sins and that we find Jewish children in schools bullying other children shows you how sick it has become.

    The true Jews are one people and we need to unite under Torah (only) where there is no difference as Jews whether one is Ash., Seph., Chasidish, Litvish, Yesivish, even religious or non relifious. We need to continue the effort of bringing more secular Jews back to the fold The main thing is Torah and that we become one people again.

    All this effort against ourselves instead of putting all efforts to rid the Jewish nation of the Reform, reconstructionist, Open orthodoxy, etc. type movements (cults) should be the goal. There is no place in yiddishkeit for heretics (apikorsim of all kinds) nor for sinat chinam amongst real Jews k'fi halacha.

    The real reason we are having so many of these insane problems today is because the snake (the sitra achra) is working day and night to undo Torah Judaism - this is part of the agenda of the 'new age' (nwo). All those who are working with them from within our people are the erev rav.

    What is frightening is that this will probably (hopefully, not) continue until Moshiach is here who will be able to fix everything. Praying for Moshiach!!!

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  6. This is such a painful article. I'm an FFB from a more modern background and I have also been subjected to this discrimination (to a lesser extent) when trying to "move to the right". The rejection we received caused a real (albeit temporary) crisis of faith and I believe spurred a child to go off the derech, but I realized that those that did the rejecting were actually people who were very lacking in their yiddishkeit on the inside ( one was actually publicly arrested for illegal activities) very insecure and needed to put up a facade.

    Honestly, any FFB parent or principal who is afraid to embrace the children of BTs has a very serious lack of emunah and security in their own frumkeit and needs to work on themselves. I feel that's something that BTs that are dealing with these issues need to recognize, first and foremost. It's not a flaw in the BT, it's a flaw in the "rejector".

    Secondly, there seems to be a very fluid use of the term "hareidi". There are neighborhoods that are not Modern Orthodox that accept and love BTs, one just has to find them. The neighborhood where I grew up now has a very strong, very beloved BT presence, with rabbis and mentors that go to bat for them.

    Our own personal approach (rightly or wrongly) has been to work on our own yiddishkeit and stay away from institutions that don't want us. We feel it's important for our child that was pushed away from yiddishkeit to be in a community that is accepting and non-judgemental. We have been blessed to find a rav who is himself a BT and teaches us what's important and what's baloney.

    I think that BTs are the giants of our generation. Most are so idealistic and earnest in their desire for a relationship with HKB"H. Please don't take the following idea in a negative way. It comes from a place of true appreciation of what BTs are. I understand their desire to integrate into the FFB schools but maybe they'd do better by opening up their own programs.I can imagine a high level quality yeshiva, guided by the principles of ahavas yisrael and earnest striving to be a true eved H-shem. An institution that cuts out all the baloney and focused on the important stuff. I, and many of my FFB friends, would beat down doors to get my kid into a school like that!

    SF

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  7. I say, forget them! The only club we need to worry about gaining entry into is the HKBH Club. Anyone who speak lashon hara or behaves hatefully against someone only because of this most ridiculous thing is definitely not going to be joining us in the HKBH Club. And to them, I say... "see ya!"

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  8. Wow, I see this post has received quite a number of interested readers. I hope no one is offended or saddened deeply by this. We need to recognize that HASHEM is in control of everything and HE ‘SEES’ what’s in everyone’s heart, so continue to be true to yourself, follow the Halachos, and know that what truly matters is that HIS CHILDREN have returned to HIM and hopefully ERETZ YISRAEL. This was the command after receiving the Torah on MT SINAI.

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  9. I'll have a bit more to say when i have a little more time... rav meir kahane Hy"d would say this deterioration of the midot of the charedi communities that this rav at the end of the article mentioned occurred over the last 40 yrs is indicative of the corrosive nature of golut and the next 40 yrs chas v'shalom will see an even greater worsening of their midot all because jews insist on remaining in the exile and it corrupts us... refusal to make aliyah as Hashem wants is the siba here...

    im a ba'al tshuvah myself of the same 40 yr period and i couldn't be prouder... bt's need to stop trying to gain entrance to where we are not welcome... we should form our own communities preferably in eretz yisroel but even here and we should start our own schools etc...

    I'll have more on this latter but to close for the time being id just like to quote a line in a song by the late great jim croce... "if that's the way you want it... that's the way i want it more..."

    stop crying fellow bters and get angry... angry with righteous indignation... read rav kahane the jewish idea 2 vols in english and u'll know more true torah than even the so called leaders of the charedi world who can preside over such a chillul Hashem and have no courage to stand up to their flocks and set the record straight...

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  10. Neshama, this is S/C..

    Please to know sweet child, NHide i be,,
    And no matter what i Love all of the Chosen.
    I have learned so much from so many beautiful and sharing and caring Jews.

    That is how i am, Baruch Hashem a Noahide.
    Let me say, perhaps Hashem just wants me to stay Noahide, or perhaps, if i strive harder even in this late part of my life, i am in mid 70's, B'H, may join you all. Now i would not let it bother me if anyone liked me or not, not even as i am nos, serving Hashem loving Him is my goal.
    I tgank Hashem for a very very special Jewish yong lady, sho i had the honour to meet on my holiday in Toronto, believe me when i say for me an heaven sent angel, that wrought a miracle and brought peace with those related to me. Yes it was And is Hashem wirking through her... Amen.
    To the one eho published this article that brought on so many of us to write how we felt..
    If my comment upset anyway.. Please please forgive me.
    Yes, Hashem IS incharge of all. Amen.

    Gd bless you all S/c.




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  11. An inside joke of bt's was "we are the niggers of the frum community." We cleaned their houses, babysat their children, polished their silver, and were tolerated in their homes to pay rent. However, there are many, many other families who I felt truly cared for me, and they were 'at a higher level,' and it was an honor to do these things for them. I always knew that we were from different worlds. The BT young men had the same problems I had carried with me into the frum world, I recognized. This was not a good combination. So I married a Jewish man who was not frum. We are doing what we can, growing and learning. Every group has it's bad apples. Truly hoping that this groundbreaking article is discussed, analyzed and is not buried and forgotten. I can understand the FFB's side of the story too. They spend so much money and energy separating their precious children from the degradation of the 'world at large' which, I can tell you from experience, is going down to the 49th gate, at best. I, myself have had a hard time being around my own non religious relatives, I cannot imagine the shock that these protected children would experience. If I had millions, I would open a yeshivah for BT offspring because we really do have a different derech. Maybe ours is better, truer, in a way. Blog name Monsey BT

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  12. Hi, I am not FFB, I'm from America living in Eretz Yisrael as charedi and married to a Moroccan-born Israeli who grew up mamlachti dati before switching over to charedi. Our kids attend good charedi Sephardi institutions.

    I have rarely experienced rejection due to my religious background, but my family and I experienced a little bit more rejection due to my husband's ethnic background. Yet that was all for the best as we clearly saw in the end.
    Though initially VERY painful, rejection committed by prestigious fakers can actually bring you to the truly good communities and institutions.
    We are all grateful for the rejection as we are happier and spiritually healthier now than we would have been otherwise.

    I agree very strongly with the response of SF and everything she writes there.

    Thank you.

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  13. The place which will welcome all these people and be close to acceptable for them in terms of observance and hashkafa is the hareidi-leumi community, fervently orthodox and Zionist/modern or not so modern sometimes. The kids of former knitted kippa parents also have trouble in the hareidi world. The people who reject people, despite their learning and yichus (ancestry), have IMHO disqualified themselves. When they do teshuva, we can reconsider the possibility of being involved with them. Meanwhile they have totally painted themselves into a corner. The MO/DL/HL community has accepted the Ethiopians, as has the Sefardi haredi community. The top Ashkenazi schools are rejecting Sefardim of late as well. Intercommunal shidduchim are only undertaken when there is some "blemish" on the Ashkenazi side and there is "no other choice".

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  14. ive always said... when moshiach comes he's not just coming to bring back lost jews to torah... he's also coming to bring the charedi mindset damaged by 200 yrs of persecution in the exile back to the full perspective of the complete torah and out from the shtetlized torah they've always felt forced to shelter themselves in from fear of the goyim and fear of the rest of the jewish people...

    negative influence goes both ways... the charedi is afraid of the frie jews bad influence but their narrow focused judaism is something for us not to learn from them... judaism is more than just a kitchen bedroom and synagogue religion... we have more than just individual ritualistic mitzvot to perform... we also have collective nationalistic ones that comprise an enormous part of the torah...

    they shelter themselves not just from our bad influences but the long and bitter golut has caused them to be negatively influenced to lose sight of and grasp of the full and complete torah and the proper conceptual framework of the spurit or outlook of the torah...

    our goal is to take ourselves back to the vision of our avot and great heroes like moshe rebenu shmuel hanavi and david hamelech... we should seek entree into thst torah ideal rather than acceptance into the european golut ridden partial torah world which has bred such a limited and warped sense of the jewish people as a rekigio nation with our own land and total lifestyle...

    we seek a system of thought that unites us and elevates us to true holiness... that's open to all jews who return to torah true judaism despite where they've been and we reject out of hand the pseudo holiness based on yechus and supposedly insular purity that we know has many flaws in its transmission that has led to some gross violations of halacha that us bters were never guilty of... hamaven yaven...

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  15. HumbleServant: If I understand you correctly, what you wrote is what I have come to believe as a result of my experience and researching. IY”H Mashiach will set the record straight, and Yidden will be relieved of the guilt, struggle, and negativity that has plagued us for many many years. In this way it will be so much easier for all of us to come together in unity as we did on Har Sinai. IY”H sooner than later.

    The fear and stringencies actually comes from a good place, i.e., a place that does not want to go against Hashem and a place of devotion. But as we know, history has distorted many a Jew’s feelings and outlook.

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  16. First thing everyone needs to know: A Jew is a Jew, is a Jew...., as long he/she does not work with and for our enemies (within & without), they're Jewish souls; those who 'work' knowingly against H', His people, Torah and E.Y. are of the Erev Rav! We can be sure that there are Jews who are so full of mitzvot even if they consider themselves secular and might be more beloved to H' than others. We don't know exactly how H' rates us.

    Secondly, it's true what Myrtle Rising writes. The Sephardim have a much better hashkafa & outlook on our fellow Jews. In an orthodox Sephardic home there is no bias against any Jew who is a baal teshuva; in fact, they are even more beloved, as should be. Our Sages tell us that the greatest Tzadik cannot stand in the place of a baal teshuva. Even the word 'baal teshuva' should be eliminated. We are all Jews, that is what matters and any Jew who finds the beauty of Torah and the reason for his being is someone to be highly respected. Otherwise, it's plain 'sinat chinam'.

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  17. I am a BT for a long time, more than half of my life, and my wife is a Giyores. I reside in Sullivan County and there are 3 schools in the county, one Chassidish (Viznitz), one Litvish, and one Modern Orthodox.

    -The chassidishe school doesn't take anyone. Even friends of ours from major Rebbishe families had problems there. I wasn't surprised when my kids didn't get in there, they don't have room.

    -I was an English teacher at the Litvishe school, but they wouldnt take my kids. They said it wouldnt be in their interest because we are chassidish. They do have children of BTs there who are part of their community. They also said they wouldnt accept the kids because i worked part time as a rabbi in a shul which had a mixed seating at the kiruv service (and mechitzah seating at the Orthodox service), but i received a heter from a dayan.
    -The Modern Orthodox/Kiruv/Day School didn't recognize my wife's conversion because she didn't have papers. We didn't want to send there anyway as one of the rabbeim there said it was better to home school than to send there.

    -in the end, we sent our kids to Satmar in Kiryas Joel over an hour away and they bend over backwards to help us and our kids. We really appreciate what they do for us. They told us that the rule there is that they don't accept students from outside the town, but "there is an acception to every rule" and we are happy with them and they are happy with us, Baruch Hashem. I know this isn't for everyone, but we have had great experience with Satmar in Kiryas Joel.

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  18. Thank you Yitzchak for writing what you did. It is important to let others know that there are exceptions to the rule with some Jewish Groups. I have Satmar friends in BP and they have always considered me a member of the family, before I married and after I married my (FFB) husband. While we’re invited to each Chassanah as their children married, and I am still close with the married girls. Things don’t always work out the way one expects, and the key is to keep going. Allegiance to HKB”H is the ultimate.

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  19. There is a fundamental premise in the behavior of many BTs that causes this phenomena and it is that they indeed look at themselves as some kind of second class citizens. Unfortunately, the Haredi world is full of predators who are dishonest and take advantage of vulnerable individuals, a parent with children is a great example. The solution to this problem is for BTs to stop looking at themselves as second class citizens, they are first class, as anyone else.

    its important to note, that BTs actually hold the power cards in all these situations. Many BTs have very good educations, excellent secular skills, and exemplary incomes. If one was to examine the funding sources of the plethora of these institutions the overwhelming amount of money comes from BT homes or their relatives. Walk with your dollars! You have the money, go start the schools, stop supporting the institutions, stop contribution to fundraisers, and demand equal treatment WITH accountability or else. In order to have the foundation to do that and make that kind of statement requires one to look at themselves as first class citizens, which... brings us back to the initial problem where the whole thing starts.

    BTs understand educational needs probably much better than FFBs do, who in reality, just hide behind the vail of purity when it comes to the need to actually change their institutions and acknowledge problems. Stop pandering, go and start new institutions that refuse to accept individuals from FFB homes because they are, in reality, of a much lower level and couldn't possible have the appropriate broad world view that these new institutions need to develop and foster in our future leaders. Just beginning to walk down this path will invariable cause major change in the overall community. If this effort is organized even to the lowest common denominator across multiple communities, major change will be visible and palpable within no more than 5 - 7 years.

    Also, do note that your article equates being Modern Orthodox to some kind of a "lower status" or a "be-deved". I would argue, that the values and the actual level of learning and skills in Modern Orthodox homes, schools, and yeshivas is so high that the Haredi institutions can't compete and therefore turned to denigration of MO communities as the last resort they have to try and make themselves feel better about being failures.

    Finally. If names are not used, there is no hope in appropriately surfacing the individuals committing these atrocities. If you know the name of the school, the principal, the teacher, etc... and you DO NOT PUBLISH IT, you are culpable of hiding a criminal and are therefore just as guilty of the crime as the original individuals committing it. This is not a case of "protecting privacy", this is criminal, and it should addressed like a criminal matter. We don't hide the names of criminal who are thiefs, cheats, rapists, and murderers, we shouldn't hide the names of bullies and predators.

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  20. There is some truth to this - a child that is early socialized from birth (call it brain washed) into a religion and who grows up in the religion has the religion 'under his skin'. This is one reason religion is described by many as child abuse.

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  21. Yehuda still hasn't learned to accept Yosef. This is an old, old problem. May we see its end soon.

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  22. Josh, but it was Ephrayim who rebelled and moved 'away'.

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  23. the trouble is the charedi world is trying to m'kayam the world of eastern european jewry of the 1600s... this is not who we are... that outgrowth was due to the golut...

    we are meant to be like david hamelech was... maybe not in dress and looks but certainly in hashkafa and in his way of perceiving the torah...

    let me give u all an example of what im referring to...

    i purchased the marcus lehman haggadah my first erev pesach in ohr somayach as a bt in eretz yisroel spring 1976...

    it contains a reprint from an haggadah published in prague 1500s... the picture depicts the jews standing around har sinai behind a picket fence all the men wearing shtreimlach with long peyot beards and black coats... i kid u not...

    ludicrous right? but true and the perfect illustration of what im talking about... somewhere along the transmission line we went lost and became that which is described above...

    rav meir kahane taught that our problem is that we have a golut mentality that we just can't seem to shake even back in israel...

    rav meir termed it collective national amnesia... we have simply forgotten who and what we are and what we are intended to do in the world as Hashem's emissary to sanctify His name throughout the world...

    we are supposed to be seeking to glorify Hashem by returning home to eretz yisroel and rebuilding the beit hamikdash not clinging and clutching at the golut and reliving the lives of european jewish shtetl dwellers as if that form of judaism was the greatest of all of our many iterations in our history... im sorry to inform you that just was not the case...

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  24. Neshama, both have their issues. The point is Yehuda's issues are the problems that come from closing yourself off too much. He is in charge when the brothers sell Yosef, which they do for issues related to the issues described in this article. Which leads directly to Yehuda going effectively off the derech. Which he does tshuvah for, culminating in his committing to defend Binyamin (who is the substitute for Yosef). The attempted reconciliation Yosef is trying to engineer in Mikeitz and Vayigash is incomplete however, and we are still dealing with these issues. It helps me not get embittered to remember how old and deep the problems are. It's very tied in with moshiach as well.

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  25. This blog makes it sound like anyone who was ever not brought up frum has no hope and that just isn't true. There are plenty of BTs who fit in very nicely into their communities and their children go to very good mainstream schools as well. I can't speak for the idiots that make it sound like they can't allow their children to come near the children of BTs but I can assure you that our chareidi neighborhoods were never like that. My children were very well-liked, well-accepted children who all went to mainstream seminaries and yeshivot. On the other hand, I never stuck out or did anything so different when my children were growing up that would cause anyone to think that I was any different from them. Could it be that those people who are complaining about being discriminated against are doing things that are not really exactly like their FFB neighbors and classmates? Some people become frum and integrate into their communities seamlessly and others can always be picked out as BTs for decades because they never fully integrate.

    Now, please don't think that I think that being a bit different is terrible or not holy, but one of the things that principals and va'adei kabalot look at is how well a particular individual or family is integrated within the group. With regard to the father whose son was being called "a Harry", what did he do to help his son fit in better? Did he find out what kind of socks/briefcase/shirts or whatever was considered "normative" in his son's class and make sure to provide his son with it? Did he support or criticize those who were heading the community? Did the father dress like all the other fathers? Or did he feel that they should be accepted even though they didn't want to or were not able to change to fit in with the "norm"?

    The chareidi world has a lot of flaws, but I don't think you can say that they are always guilty of the one that this blog is accusing them of.

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  26. u editors need to put an edit option on the screen so we can add correct or detract... also u need to post sooner so we don't wait around all day to see if our comment gets posted... and while u notify for your comment being posted or responded to... how about a feature where when a comment of ours is rejected u notify us and give us a reason for rejection... these things would greatly improve things around here... just saying...

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  27. Does anyone here not see it from the FFB perspective? Is it not true that there could be negative influences coming from BT families?
    I don't think this issue is because the yeshivishe school lack ahavas Yisrael. It comes from a sincere desire to shield their kids from undesired influences. Of course it should be done with sensitivity and tactfully. I'm a ger Jewish father/non-Jewish mother). I had a frum conversion at age 15 and went off to yeshiva at 16. I don't like the fact that I'm a "second class citizen" but I get it. There is a difference between someone born with "good yichus" and someone born with blemishes yichus. It's just a fact! Did a mamzer do anything wrong? No! But he still can't marry into the Khal Hashem.

    Let's stop accusing FFBs of having a lack in Ahavas Yisrael and instead judge them favorably. They have every right to be concerned about their children's spiritual well being.

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    1. Being afraid of negative influence is a big stream of evil that goes through hareidi society.
      If hareidi society.

      If hareidi society wanted to be morally up to torah standards, they would have to abandon this belief and a few others too.

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  28. Josh K, would you venture a guess as to these divisions in today’s Jewish world? Who is Who? Can you even begin to decipher these groups and their biblical beginnings? That would be a fascinating endeavor and worthy of a separate blog – and to those who comment on it.

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  29. Humble, so sorry about that. 99.9% of the time I do not delete comments, only if they are obscene and use bad language.

    I am amazed at the r responses to this post, so keeping up with the comments was difficult because I also have a life. I will try to add that “reply” to a comment option.

    I agree that the issues being discussed are monumental and as I wrote to Josh K, maybe we need a sequel with some of the comments posted up-front so others can also comment on the comments. I will try to arrange that. Do you think it worthwhile? ITMT Thank you very much for your valuable criticism.

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  30. This is really, really, really stupid. The frum world is so incredibly exclusive due to prejudice. And Klal Yisrael has suffered so much from prejudice of others for centuries: it's like the frum world internalized the actions of the oppressor. FFB kids also get thrown out, for things like gasp! having depression (gee I wonder why anyone would be depressed in the Chareidi world...) or much less offenses than that. Why do the Chareidim even bother with Kiruv? Those Chassidic sects who do not really engage in kiruv have by far more integrity: at least they do not lure innocents into a world they will never be accepted into, and will not even know for years to come.

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  31. 10 August, 2016 00:55 – Why do all haredim have to look exactly like carbon-copies of each other? That is not yiddishkeit, but it is how one recognizes his “brother/sister”. I think the clothing of the women also is standardized, which is so clearly visible in Israel. Everything here is a “political statement” – why, I wonder why it has to be that way?

    Its not fair to label BT’s because of a piece of clothing, and I don’t believe the father has to make sure his son adheres to every stitch of thread. Did you read about the father (poor soul) who committed suicide because his child was not accepted into a religious school? He was broken, albeit probably very weak to begin with, but why was he shamed into suicide? What about his family? You could probably search google for that JPost article.

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  32. 10 August, 2016 02:03 – So sorry about the discrimination. I know why, but have to ask anyway, WHY did you have to go to an Ashkenazi Yeshiva, their ways are not your ways? Rabbi Ovadiya zt”l tried to change that and now there are other Yeshivos to go to.

    We are in the End of Days and the Tribal distinctions will, I believe, return so all Yidden will be comfortable in their Derech Hashem. However, this does NOT NEGATE have a UNITY of purpose, which is to serve Hashem and the Halachos, each in his/her fashion, according to their Tribal distinction.

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  33. neshama... it's ok... i didn't know u were the one i was communicating with over those items... i would really like to have an edit option so i can correct myself... it's hard to see the errors until u get to read the post... it's just too hard for me to catch everything from the prepublication state of these comments we're posting...

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  34. 10 August, 2016 06:13 – You are speaking of the ‘purity’ involved, which is a spiritual dimension. In order for those discriminated against to gain the proper footing and enable their children to enter this ‘purity’ you speak of, they need to be accepted and educated so that THEIR children can “make it”. It has to start somewhere; the ingathering needs to proceed in order for Mashiach to arrive.

    The ingathering is a difficult process, and it is a process. We must go through it to build up the Jewish Nation, to bring all Jews back to the future so our “Father in Heaven will have Nachas” to put it in simple terms.

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  35. The only reason there is a problem to begin with within the Jewish community is because we were thrust unto the four corners of the earth because of our sins and then a deeper reason being about the sparks, etc.; but this integration with the non-Jewish world has caused the divisions within our people. The European world is different than the Oriental world, etc. Wherever one comes from, naturally, his outlook, his dress, his thinking, etc., etc. are completely foreign to others who come from a different part of the world. How much moreso is the Jew who needs to hold on to Torah law (halachot)? Thus, we have the breakdown - chassidim, litvish, etc., etc.

    Afraid that it will take Moshiach to be able to make us into one again. Up until that time, all Jews need be united in love and caring for each but should stick with their own individual communities, so no sinah is created, more than exists already. The forcing of the leftists on chareidim to become secular is self-understood, meaning to secularize them, c'v. The division has been for about 200 years between the yeshivah (litvish) world and the chassishe world. And, of course, there is the opposition to one another by the Ashkenazim and Sephardim. It's all nonsense, but human nature. Of course, B'H, it's not like it once was; so the answer is stick to your own communities as far as education is concerned. The wiser ones amongst us know how to get along with our fellow Jews and even marriages between the communities is a great start.

    The MAIN THING is that there can never ever be a weakening in our yirat Shamayim and ahavat H' and following the ways of the non-Jewish world!

    Soon Moshiach will come and we will be a true nation with one heart and mind just as we were when we said Naasse v'Nishma!

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  36. 10 August, 2016 20:18 You’re so right. But we are forgetting about the Sons of Yaakov and the Tribes and their personalities and traits. I’m doing a post on that now. Soon to come.

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  37. Wow, I could identify with much of this article, I don't have kids, perhaps in some ways that's a blessing. I grew up not frum, but in very traditional family from a small town. Plenty of Jews, not frum Jews (at the time there wasn't a Chabad in my area, now there is). After college, I saved up until I could move to NYC. I've tried various communities, never found a niche.

    I saw a key to fitting in is to find an "adoptive" family. One that regular extends invites, I've seen plenty of folks integrate that way, but for some reason, being a bit older, having what I've been told is an "Aryan" look (I don't see it myself) makes folks question if I'm really Jewish even though I've had my Jewishness confirmed many times. I repeatedly tried changing my appearance, dyeing darker hair, getting perm (apparently my straight hair is too goyishe looking), short of plastic surgery, I've tried. I also have well paying job (not rich, but I do well) that's not so typical for a female (not inappropriate, suitable for frum life, just not a typical job). So unless I want a part time job of finding myself invites for meals (which I do sometimes, but it's many calls early in the week and waiting to hear back), I often spent Shabbos by myself. Yes, I do go visit shut-ins and old folks homes and travel to other areas for Shabbos, but the reality is that I don't have my own family (so no bad influences) or people willing to be family. I do sometimes find folks like myself to have over for a meal, but I have accepted I'm on my own. I have found greater peace with accepting rather than trying to squeeze myself where I'm not wanted.

    When I became interested in exploring frumkeit, I point blank asked if there would be difficulties in finding a shidduch. I was repeatedly assured that there are so many "boys" that would love to date me if I just kept increasing my observance. The reality was that I very rarely dated. I saw my peers who were younger get great shidduchim right away, though most quit being religious shortly after. They now have families.

    I'm now in my mid-40s. I had always wanted to marry and raise a family. As I said I earlier, I grew up extremely traditional so I'll be bold in saying I never then or now engaged inappropriate behavior, yet I got so many disgusting offers from FFB men looking for "fun." Note, I am very shy in real life and dress extremely modest so there isn't anything I do that would indicate I'd be interested. It is just falsely assumed I'd be up for that based on a past I don't have.

    I have rarely dated. The few opportunities I receive were men who had very serious mental conditions who had 3 or more ex wives, special needs men that could not live independently or very elderly men with health issues and were more interested in my health plan, or they didn't speak English.

    After one promising shidduch with a very MO liberal man divorced man with major difficulties, his rabbi decided that, even though I'm a besulah, but at my age and given I wasn't born frum, I'm assumed not to be. So no sheva brachos because of that--how humiliating to broadcast this! Yet my younger friends years back had, and FFB friends that went very OTD for a while and came back, also had. But it would not look nice for an older BT to have something special and fit in like the other kallahs.

    Of course, his family required a huge wedding I just could not afford, nor could I buy him a nice home in the area he wanted as expected (I do have a small home, but not suitable enough for him), so that ended things.

    After that, I decided I finally got the hint, I'm really not wanted and stop trying to fit in, it's a waste of time. I do keep kosher and shabbat, but I moved back to a smaller town where I fit in much better. There is a Chabad and Jewish but not frum community and it works better. I am no longer looking anymore, and moving on to more productive endeavors. Thank you for reading.

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    1. more or less same here.

      Thanks for writing. It is a more or less typical situation. That said: divorced FFB women are in the same situation when they have no children or when they are rejected by or alienated from their children.

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  38. that's right... we have forgotten that we are one nation... not just a bunch of kehilot kodesh... this city jewry... state or country... this synagogue's jews or that yeshiva's community of or circle of adherents followers and affiliates... this rebbe's chasidim or that one's... ashkenazi or sephardic or edat mizrach... secular or dati... israeli or diaspora jews... reform conservative orthodox egalitarian or reconstruction... and the list goes on...

    ffb or bt... native born or convert... modern orth... litvish... chasidish... charedi... chabad... yeshivish... haimish... erlech... eidel...

    u just want to scream!!!

    it's enuf to drive u insane...

    we are one people called klal yisroel or am yisroel... and we have to begin thinking this way or we're in for sad times ahead... G-d forbid...

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  39. we are fragmented unto distraction and i haven't even mentioned political associations... agudah centrist rca all the parties in the israeli electoral structure...

    ou yu ok chafk stark... ad infinitum ad nauseam...

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  40. Re: Anon. 20:18 Sorry, correction. The next to last paragraph the 'not' is left out -'not' following the other natons. In other words, yirat Shamayim and Ahavat H' (of course, ahavat chinam) and 'not' to follow the ways of the other nations!

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  41. humble servant: You said it all. The world has gone made and the Jews have, unfortunately, joined the club. Just a few of the reasons why we need Moshiach desperately

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  42. I'm the long winded anonymous at 20:32
    Regarding the possible interaction with non-religious family. Specific to me, I have none, so this doesn't apply to me.

    However, I see many FFB family rely on live-in goyishe nanny and maids, often not supervised and unattended. I would think this regular and in-house familiarity would be far more of a stronger influence on small kids than visiting some distance relative with their parents around once in a great while.

    While I did not grow up religious, I was never left with non-family babysitters. My mother was stay at home and the rare occasion my siblings and I were babysat, it was either by my bubbie or aunt and then older sibling once became a teenager.

    I don't judge, people do the best they can, but it seems that perhaps when some point their fingers at possible bad, there's four fingers pointing in the opposite direction.

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  43. I just spent a month working in a super-duper-frum (mostly chassidish) institution.

    My conclusion is: frum is not frum or holy, it is just a very special subculture.

    What I want to say is: those chareidim have many shortcomings in their frumkeit and morality, but there are chumres pertaining to clothing and keeping a very closed culture they insist on keeping.

    But it is not more jewish than any other brand of jewishness. It is just more insular and separated from the rest of the world.

    Therefore, I see no advantage, jewishness-wise or religion-wise, in becoming hareidi. This is one thing.

    The other thing is that FFB children get denied many, many opportunities in their lives, like a proper education, sports, music. From this standpoint, I see no advantage in throwing one's children into those hareidi schools that stifle them more than anything else. If anything, we should try and free the FFB children from those schools and provide them with a proper education and all the opportunities a "normal" child has in our day and age.

    The mentality of rejection against outsiders is part and parcel of the hareidi culture, and I'd rather have a child rejected from hareidi schools than adopting this kind of mentality on their own after getting into a hareidi school.

    I think this mentality is just one negative trait of hareidi society, there are many more, many more that I would not wish my children to adopt. Therefore: stay away from hareidi society, keep your self-assurance, see their shortcomings, do not strive to belong, because on the inside, this society has very ugly and unholy traits.

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  44. ....in the end, I come to the conclusion that everyone fends for themselves, also in the hareidi communities that appear so united.

    In fact, being hareidi is an extra weight one has to carry, it is not something that makes life easier. And in this respect, being FFB is worse than being BT, since a BT generally has a good education, can earn money easier, and has alternatives in life if injustly rejected by hareidi society. A FFB is stuck.

    So there is really no reason to envy FFB.

    As far as acceptance goes: in the end, it is a personal thing, and there are plenty of FFB, even siblings, who do not like each other, plenty of FFB who get treated unfairly by their society, and virtually all FFB get denied opportunities in life because they are FFB.

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