Discrimination Against Baalei Teshuva

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  • #591904
    Aura
    Participant

    As a BT who attends a shul in which there are very few, if any, baalei teshuva, I am concerned by stories I have heard about BT’s who have been discriminated against by FFB’s especially when it comes to shidduchim or getting children in schools. I would like to know if this is really the case, or if it is just random incidents blown out of proportion by the internet? Also, to FFB’s: what do you really think about BT’s? Would you let your children marry them, go to school with them etc? To BT’s: Have you experienced any stigma / prejudice by FFB’s, please be honest.(obviously I do not wish anyone to speak Loshon Hora). Thanks.

    #1035389
    Max Well
    Member

    For marriage people “discriminate” on all sorts of basis’s — i.e. hair color, nationality, wealth, etc. I don’t think it is necessarily unreasonable to discriminate based on religious background/history for purposes of marriage.

    My above point is specific to the issue of shidduchim.

    #1035390
    philosopher
    Member

    Aura, I’m FFB and because I come from a dysfunctional family, I was “discriminated” against when it came to shidduchim.

    I don’t think discrimination is the right word. I understand those who didn’t want me based on my family.

    My kids are freinds with my baalie teshuva neighbors and these kids are in the same school as my kids. Would I let my kids play with just any kids from baalie teshuvas? No. But neither would I let my kids play with just any FFB kids either if I feel they have bad hashkafos.

    In some communities baalie teshuvas have a hard time getting their kids into frum mosdos. But so do FFB, too. In some communities it seems as if the mosdos do a more thorough background check on you than the FBI does on terrorists. BT’s might not be so well known or integrated and can have additional problems getting their kids into mosdos because of that.

    EDITED

    #1035391

    Welcome to Galus where everyone is insecure and lacking clarity in their Avodas Hashem…where people must put other people down to make themselves feel good…where people are paranoid about shidduchim and go overboard…welcome to this long aweful galus…please judge the religion and NOT the religious…. and pray that it be over soon!

    #1035392
    WIY
    Member

    Aura

    Without doing an official study it is hard to know hwat percentage of FFBs discriminate against BTs and what percentage of BTs get discriminated against. There is some discrimination by shidduchim, however if you will speak to Rabbis who know about the BT movements and Kiruv they will tell you that for shidduchim a BT should marry a BT because they will understand each other better. In this day and age there are enough BTs in either gender for them to find shidduchim.

    There are many BTs out there that people dont even know that they are BTs. My advice to any BT is try not to stick out. I know the FFB world is very different than the world that a BT is used to and when they try to mainstream themselves they have many challenges. Just try your best to experience as much as you can. Daven in different types of shuls and try to meet Jews from different communities and try to speak to as many FFBs as you can so you get a better idea about the different types of Jews and the various things that go on in the Jewish world. Dont allow yourself to be an outsider.

    #1035393

    I might be a lone voice here, but I don’t think it really matters from a strictly SUBJECTIVE point of view whether there is discrimination between BTs, FFBs, Ashkenazim, Sephardim and any other form of dichotomy. The fact is that even perceived discrimination comes straight from Hashem and a person should have Emunah and Bitachon that whatever Hashem will do will be for the best.

    On the other hand from an objective viewpoint its important for klal Yisrael to be ish echad b’lev echad. But that’s not something to worry about, just something to work on on a personal level and on helping the klal overcome on a general level.

    #1035394
    tostien
    Member

    I’m a BT married to an FFB, and there is halachic basis to not want to marry a BT having to do with your mother and going to a mikveh, and this effecting your middos. However, the Chazon Ish approved of his grandson (or great-grandson?) marrying a BT.

    In any case, if you don’t like that someone discriminates that way, don’t marry them! Marry someone who agrees with your perspectives on life. You only need one.

    I knew a former baptist preacher who converted to Judaism … his father made peace with his conversation to Judaism but said, whatever you do, don’t marry a black girl because he couldn’t accept that. You can guess who he ended up marrying… that ended up being the girl who was right for him.

    #1035395
    baal kishron
    Participant

    I agree with max well when it comes to shidduchim parents try to set up a match that will fit with the family (and of course with the potential young couple) so when it comes to ruling out ppl, the ones with dissimilar backgrounds to their own are most likely to get bumped off the list.

    The same principle can be applied to schools parents are very concerned with what they expose their children to. So with Baalei Teshuva in general, the difficulty is that many are holding in different places in yiddishkeit (still becoming frum all the way to fully integrated). So it only stands to reason that parents should express concern about who attends their childs school.

    #1035396
    charliehall
    Participant

    In my community, which is mostly modern orthodox, you can’t tell the FFBs from the BTs from the gerim. And that is how it should be.

    #1035397
    potsandpans
    Member

    In this world, there will always be discrimination! at one point it can be over race, ethnicity, religion, political stance etc

    Is there a BT discrimination?

    I am not a BT myself but I can tell ya that I live in an out of town community where BT are not only respected but are considered as truly part of the community. The community itself has chassidim, litvtish pp, sefardim etc and everyone shares mutual respect and even fondness to all groups. So, no, in my community i don’t see any discrimination: BT kids are accepted into schools based on their own merits, not based if their parents are BT or FFB.

    regarding shidduchim, i find that generally BT like to make shidduchim with fellow BT just because they have that mutual understanding of eachother. Hoever i have seen BT families whose children became very committed to yidishkiet and some became very yeshivish and married into yeshivish families.

    Can I say this applies to every community? NO. I cant speak for the rest of them.

    But if your asking these questions in order to feel out how your family will be incorporated into the FFB community, i would suggest you find a warm and accepting community,that is open

    and not closed minded!

    Don’t worry about shidduchim, its all in Hashems’ hands!

    #1035398
    Be Happy
    Participant

    There are some BTs who continuously remind us of their status. I am afraid they are asking to be discriminated against!

    There are some who blend in well with the crowd, and to those Kol Hakovod Well Done.

    #1035400
    arc
    Participant

    I cringed at the headline but the OP made me shutter.

    A forum this public cant be the right place for this topic but

    Max Well is right that people “discriminate” against many things and very often look for yichus.

    #1035402
    oomis
    Participant

    I am FFB married to a BT. He is the best person I know, and no one I have ever met has his middos, his personal tznius, his Ahavas Habriyos, and his desire to do chesed. I am humbled in his presence.

    That being said, it is not so glatt to say that no one should discriminate against a BT. When you marry someone, you marry that person’s family and background as well. Some in-laws, like mine (B”H a million times) were always supportive of my husband’s choices in frumkeit. Some, however, are really disgusted by the “fanatics” that their kids have turned into, and want to reform them at all costs.

    A potential shidduch has to be not only aware of the problems that may exist, but also be prepared to live with this problems. Not everyone is so inclined. And I do not blame them. I was one of the luckier ones. My in-laws were delighted their son became religious and married a religiouos girl. They boasted to all their friends about their yeshivah grandchildren. Other in-laws may harangue their kids for not coming over on a Saturday, or not attending Cousin Brooke’s wedding to Antony DeMarco. These are very real issues that arise, and the inyan of the non-Jewish wedding was one which caused the ONLY argument between my in-laws and us, that we ever had.

    Most girls don’t want or need more drama in their lives. It’s hard enough getting along with a frum mother-in-law, for some of them. Getting involved with an entire side of the family that is not religious, causes upsets regarding the wedding, raising the children, the kashrus problem (I cannot tell you how many family parties we were invited to, where I had to bring my own food, because we would be there a substantial amount of time, and rather late, too).

    There are many, many other issues, and you asked us to be honest. It is sometimes difficult to be around a new BT (or one of short duration), because for some reason, they tend to go overboard in observance of minutiae that are not halachos. They make the ikar tafeil and the tafeil the ikar. I am not saying this is true of Aura, only that it is a reason why people are leery of shidduchim with BT.

    IMHO, as was mentioned by someone – I believe that BT generally are best redt to other BT. They can grow together and make their own frum reality. They understand where each other is coming from, and I think they are better at being mechazeik each other if they are sensitive and loving.

    #1035403
    philosopher
    Member

    Thanks Moderator.

    #1035404
    Health
    Participant

    Oomis – I agree Bt’s should only marry Bt’s.

    #1035405
    mdd
    Member

    Health,why?

    #1035406
    speaktruth
    Member

    I am an FFB and am getting married to a BT and am very proud of it.

    I find BT (especially who became frum on their own) to be much more real and sincere and growing ppl than FFB who just went through the system and never had any real challenges.

    To each their own but I hope you (health) are being facetious when you said BT should only marry BT. Every person has their bashert . One of the causes of the shidduch crisis is exactly what you are doing- excluding whole groups of ppl you or being picky like that without knowing who is for you.

    #1035407
    Aura
    Participant

    Thanks for all the replies so far. To add to my original question – how important in the frum world is the whole ben/bat nidda problem when it comes to shidduchim?

    #1035408
    shlomozalman
    Member

    Tostien:”However, the Chazon Ish approved of his grandson (or great-grandson?) marrying a BT.”

    Sorry, can’t be. The Chazon Ish had no children.

    #1035409
    haifagirl
    Participant

    First of all, in regards to shidduchim, you have to be comfortable with the person you are marrying. If you aren’t going to be comfortable with a BT, don’t do it. Same thing if you are a BT and you aren’t going to be comfortable with an FFB.

    I had an FFB friend (she’s now happily married to another FFB) who told me when she was dating that she would never marry a BT. My response to her was, “Aren’t glad your father didn’t feel that way?”

    #1035410
    haifagirl
    Participant

    I cringed at the headline but the OP made me shutter.

    Did you really? Totally close down? Wow! Quite a reaction. At most, I would have expected a shudder.

    #1035411
    mdd
    Member

    There are heteirim for the ben niddah shaila. The whole reason for not marrying bnei nidah is because a r e a l ben nidah has a blemish on his neshoma(soul), which is manifested by bad character traits, especially, brazeness. Well, it is known that there are a lot of BT who have sterling middos(character traits). And, generaly speaking, we don’t see that BTs have worse middos then FFBs. And there is a reason for it. I am not going to elaborate here.

    #1035412
    tomim tihye
    Member

    Aura, Rav Moshe Feinstein, of blessed memory, told someone I know that when it comes to shidduchim, one can assume that Hashem took care of the mother’s tevillah, i.e. the mother of the BT somehow immersed without knowing it. I know it may sound strange, but I know at least two people who realized that it made sense that it happened to them, i.e. she swam in the sea nine months before birth (not the ideal scenario for immersion, but retroactively may be ok, considering she didn’t know better.)

    #1035413
    tomim tihye
    Member

    Oomis, wow, that could have been me speaking, but you said it better than I would have.

    I am an FFB married to a BT and am blessed with the most amazing husband and in-laws, but many issues arise, especially as our children grow, that require tact, understanding, and flexibility. If an FFB does not possess these traits, s/he could compromise the relationship with in-laws, and possibly with spouse.

    Many FFBs married to BTs have strained relationships with their in-laws; then again, so do many FFBs who are married to FFBs. The traits of tact, understanding, and flexibility are required in any relationship, only more so when the religious and the secular blend into a family.

    #1035414
    arc
    Participant

    Haifa, I did in fact close down ;).

    Aura R’ Moshe discusses your question speak to your local Rabbi as to how it applies.

    #1035415
    anonymrs
    Participant

    what is ben/bat nidda?

    #1035416
    bpt
    Participant

    Discrimination is a harsh word, and I don’t think that’s the message we FFBs mean to project. I have several BT friends (and one Ger)and the thing that strikes me most is the edginess they always seem to be on. Its almost as though they fear a sudden relaps if they loosen up a bit. I fear heaven too, but I don’t quake in my boots every day like its neelah by yom kippur (maybe I should, but that’s another story).

    Point is, relax. No one expects the BT to be in better behavoir than the older members. Trying to “out-frum” your teammates gives off nervous vibes, and our reaction to that may be what you’re sensing.

    At any rate, rest assured. Us FFBs are also “baale teshuva” on an ongoing basis, so we’re all in the same boat

    #1035417
    laguy
    Member

    I’m an FFB who married a girl whose family (not frum) chose to send her to only frum schools. This was all fine and dandy until they realized that our “lifestyle” didn’t exactly mesh with theirs, ie, real kashrus not just kosher style, shabbos the whole day not just until the evening but it especially came out when we had our kids and sent them to schools “more frum” than they would have chosen. We’ve all come to a place where it’s now quite comfortable, each respecting the others place and not imposing on one another.

    But I think the issues that people face in this area are more indicative of the people involved and not the issue. If the religious thing wasn’t the issue, it would be something else. It’s sometimes hard for parents to watch their children make decisions they don’t necessarily agree with, be it religious, college vs. yeshiva, what career they choose or not, where they live, and in some families how they dress their kids. When looking for your life partner, look for someone that has a “yichus” of good people, regardless of their religious affiliation. A good person is a good person, I don’t think there’s any correlation to whether you’re a BT or FFB. Character counts!

    #1035418
    oomis
    Participant

    The ben Niddah issue never was of any consequence to me. I looked at my husband’s emesdig character, and said, “That is the man who should be my children’s father.” My husband has a pure neshama on his own. It is a shame his mom was not frum, but we are all tamei, and it is more important that our children ARE the product of taharas hamishpacha, and so are their children.

    #1035419
    oomis
    Participant

    “At any rate, rest assured. Us FFBs are also “baale teshuva” on an ongoing basis, so we’re all in the same boat “

    that’s the most important line I have read in this thread. BPT is so on the mark.

    For anonymrs who asked, a ben/bat niddah is the child conceived of a woman who did not go to Mikvah according to the laws of Jewish Family Purity/Taharas Hamishpacha.

    #1035420
    oomis
    Participant

    Tomim, you said it pretty well, yourself. I am just more long-winded than you are 😉

    #1035421
    cantoresq
    Member

    Professor Menachem Friedman, one of the authors of new biolgraphical study of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, summed up the issue wonderfully during a private conversation some twenty years ago: “Habayah im hachozrei b’tshuvah hi SH’BE’EMET hem maaminim.” FFB’s are very uncomfortable in the presence of true believers and sincere seekers of the Truth. The flip side is that BT’s are fanatics as described by Sir Winston Churchill: “A fanatic is someone who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.” Nuff said.

    #1035422
    mdd
    Member

    BP Totty, that’s why the frum Jews are called “hareidim” — because they shake due to their fear of Heaven. It is a madreiga to reach. Just some BT have to work on managing their fear of HaShem-related nervousness.

    #1035423
    Akiva
    Participant

    Shidduchim will always be an issue for BT and maybe even more so for Gerim. With emuna we should all know it’s inconsequential though, as one’s shidduch is decided in shemayim.

    #1035424
    bpt
    Participant

    One of the best things I see emerging from threads like this is that when all is said and done, we are all not that different from one another. Perhaps a bit unfamiliar with each other’s approach to life, but in the end, we are all striving to reach a common goal; to be true Ovdei Hashem. Uniforms aside, yichus aside. We may grate at each other’s nerves every now and then, but the best part of forums such as this one is we each see the struggles we deal with and by being open, we understand each other a little better.

    #1035425
    oomis
    Participant

    LAguy is absolutely right. Yichus in middos is way more important than yichus as we define it. I knew what kind of man my husband is, and when I met his parents for the first time, I immediately knew WHY he was that kind of man. he grew up in a non-frum home that was filled with more chessed than you can imagine. His parents took care of both sets of grandparents in his home(first the maternal grandparents, until they died, and then his paternal grandmother until she passed), his mom’s sister who was prematurely widowed and left with two small children, whom my mother-in-law helped to raise while her sister went out to work, and then when my dear MIL had a devastating stroke at age 42, my wonderful FIL took care of her until the day she died, for the next 35 years. he did so, not only without a word of complaint, but with letting her feel like she was still the akeres habayis. No easy feat with someone who was totally bedridden and helpless. Everything was done with love and true chesed, and fortunately that is what my children remember, more than the fact that their grandma was bedridden and blind.

    Now, every BT is not filled with chesed, just as every FFB is not. There are nice and friendly people and there are nasty people in every strata of life. But we do have an achrayus to be welcoming to BT, to give them chizuk, and to make them feel they are truly part of the klal. That does not necessarily result in shidduchim with them, but maybe it is our achrayus to try and help them FIND the right shidduch…

    #1035426
    Health
    Participant

    Speaktruth -You’re still looking at the world with rose colored glasses -I’m past that stage.

    Mdd – A lot of reasons. The main one I feel is because of someone I know. A couple -BT & FFB had bad nisyonos in life. The BT wasn’t able to withstand due to the fact that he/she wasn’t anchored as well as the FFB. The BT reverted to the way he/she was. The FFB remained frum.

    #1035427
    mdd
    Member

    Health, you can not pass judgement on all BT because of one case you know. This is totally unfair. Plus, some people have the opposite impression — that BT have more Yiras Shamaim than many FFB (look at some posts above).

    #1035428
    myfriend
    Member

    “that BT have more Yiras Shamaim than many FFB”

    mdd – what you said above is no less judgmental than what Health said.

    #1035429
    Health
    Participant

    Mdd -I didn’t pass judgement on all BT’s. I just said BT’s should marry BT’s. You, on the other hand, just passed judgment on all FFB’s. BTW, I know a lot of BT’s. Just in general, I don’t think a lot of people in our generation are given very hard nisyonos because I don’t think most of them could handle it.

    #1035430
    mdd
    Member

    I said that this is what some people think. And for many of them, it is not even a positive thing — they think the BTs are too nervous.

    #1035431
    mdd
    Member

    Health, you said that Bt should marry only BT.Why?– because of one case you know. You are saying that all BTs should be discriminated against because of one case you know of!

    #1035432
    Health
    Participant

    MDD – Wrong -That one case made me realize that when the torah says “Oobmechut Hameshulush Lo B’mehara Yenawsake” (A rope with 3 strands doesn’t quickly get untied.); this can be applied to a FFB marrying a BT. The FFB is more likely to be anchored in his/her religion!

    #1035433
    mdd
    Member

    Like I said, this is absolutely unfair to pasel all BTs because of one case. There are antisemites out there, who hate Yidden because of one Jewish crook, they, allegedly, knew! Let’s be different from them.

    Had you dealt with hundreds of failed marriages, which ended badly because one partner was a BT, then you would have the right to speak like that. But if not…

    Let’s have some Ahavas Yisroel, some Dan chaveiro lekaf z’hus.

    #1035434
    Health
    Participant

    Mdd -You obviously didn’t understand my post. Why don’t you have your Rabbi who made you frum, to explain it to you!

    #1035435
    mdd
    Member

    No Rabbi made me frum. Why don’t you and many others look in Parshas Kedoshim, at the mitsva “ve’ahavta le’reyacha kamocha”?

    #1035438
    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    Interestingly enough, as a kid, I encountered far more discrimination AFTER becoming a ba’al teshuva than before it.

    When I was in first grade, my parents were not frum. Nonetheless, my mother wanted me to go to yeshiva and so I was enrolled in HILI — an Orthodox school in Long Island. In fact, my rebbe that year was Rav Nachman Mandel. Despite the fact that we weren’t shomer shabbos, the school took me in with open arms. To my knowledge, I was the only kid in the class who wasn’t shomer shabbos. Rabbi Mandel never singled me out for it — on the contrary — he showed me the same love and caring that he showed the other kids in the school.

    Fast forward to seventh grade. My parents had since split up. My mother became frum (along with my sister and I). My father remained (and to this day is) not frum.

    When my mother tried to get me into a yeshiva, she encountered all sorts of problems. Most schools simply weren’t interested in welcoming a child of divorce who was a ba’al teshuva. One prominent yeshiva in Brooklyn was willing to take me on condition that I have absolutely no contact with my father. My mother turned them down flat.

    Eventually, my sister and I found my way into a yeshivos (incidentally, for me, a yeshiva that was very wrong for me, but that’s another story for another time) but until she did, it was very difficult. There was definitely discrimination against her and us.

    The Wolf

    #1035439
    Health
    Participant

    mdd -So how did you become frum?

    #1035440
    mosherose
    Member

    “When my mother tried to get me into a yeshiva, she encountered all sorts of problems. Most schools simply weren’t interested in welcoming a child of divorce who was a ba’al teshuva. One prominent yeshiva in Brooklyn was willing to take me on condition that I have absolutely no contact with my father. My mother turned them down flat.”

    Thats not discrimnaation. Its being responsible. The school has to make sure that the kids in the school arent influinced by something you might get from yur father. If they let you in then theyre putting the other kids at risk.

    #1035441

    I know plenty of Baalei Teshuvah who you can’t tell they are Bt because they act like FFBs exactly. However, some BTs stick out, either because they don’t know what to do, or the opposite they are overly OCD and are more machmir than allowed al pi halacha. You know the famous asher yatzar joke… Anyways if a guy’s bashert is not a bt gezunteheit. But lemayseh Reb Avigdor Miller and the Steipler held it was a good thing to marry a true BT. Why not? The niddah problem is not really a problem says the Steipler. It’s only a problem if the children become chutzpah like a niddah!

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