August 29, 2013 11:50 am at 11:50 am #610482
To those teens who “went off” and then “came back”:
Did it happen because people reached out to you in Dunkin’ Donuts on Avenue M? Or did “hooka” with you? Or….
because they reached out to you, and drew you to THEIR turf, their Shabbos table, their coffee shop for a shmooz, you know what I mean?
Honest question.August 29, 2013 3:06 pm at 3:06 pm #988082
I’m not a teen anymore (haven’t been for a long time, I’m in my 30s now), but I did go off and then back on.
For me, it wasn’t either one. In fact, even when I was becoming frum again, I faced opposition from my family, because it wasn’t a brand of Judaism they practice – my family is more chareidi right-wing, and I became Modern Orthodox.
I went off because of a number of issues I’ve written about here before. I wasn’t frum for a while. One day I realized that I wasn’t really happy with my life at that point either. Yes, I enjoyed myself, did what I wanted, etc. But at the end of the day, I just wasn’t happy with my life. I decided to give Judaism another try – but not the way I did before, which drove me off. I tried the Modern Orthodox derech, and found it much more fulfilling. I actually enjoyed being a frum Jew. It wasn’t any particular person, group of people, that did it. It wasn’t a Shabbos table, or a shmooz that did it. If anything, the shmooze I got from people almost drove me back off – people telling me that I was joining a Judaism that wasn’t right, and I was fooling myself.
I’m happy with the decisions I made in going towards Modern Orthodoxy. I’m not cut out to sit and learn, and in Yeshiva I was made to feel like a failure for that – until the yeshivos actually asked me for money! I actually once told one of them I’d learn an hour in their zechus instead of sending me a check, as when I was there, they told me the zechus of learning would provide for you and your family. They weren’t pleased with my response. Now, I’m not made to feel like a failure at all. On the contrary, I have a successful career, attend shiurim, and I feel great about it!August 29, 2013 3:40 pm at 3:40 pm #988083
the first option. but keep in mind that every situation is different.August 29, 2013 3:50 pm at 3:50 pm #988084
Honestly a great combinaion of both. And now that I am in kiruv on the other end (bh) you see that just one thing never really works. It has to be a good comnbintaion and balance of both.August 29, 2013 4:36 pm at 4:36 pm #988085
Feif Un: Thanks for posting. Yes, I know many who made a U-turn on their own, but you must have experienced kindness and unquestioning acceptance from the group of Jews whose lifestyle you now emulate, correct? Now, since you don’t hate all the people who are a bit more yeshivish,or just NOT modern orthodox (I hope?),is it because they pretend to agree with everything you do, or because they treat you respectfully while fully adhering to their own principles,at the same time?August 29, 2013 4:47 pm at 4:47 pm #988086
The-art-of-moi: You are right, it’s a case-by-case thing, but may I ask if “the first option” eventually led to the second? Or it’s not a necessary sequence of events?
Longing-for-Israel: Wow, many kids must feel you understand their struggles well. Question: Must the “combination approach” be jumpstarted FIRST by meeting the kids “b’asher hoo sham”/where they are right now, and THEN a bit of both? Or there are really no hard-and-fast rules for this?August 29, 2013 4:51 pm at 4:51 pm #988087
First, with a sprinkling of the second.August 29, 2013 5:55 pm at 5:55 pm #988088
Well I never went off, and I dislike leading questions when I don’t agree with the premise, but it’s usually a combination of the two. Life is not black and white.August 29, 2013 6:27 pm at 6:27 pm #988089
Lev: By sprinkling, you mean not too intense, right?
Torah: Which leading question/premise did you mean? That I didn’t seem to be promoting immersing oneself in the culture to get someone else out? I still want to know if they NEED that, because there are SOME people, usually those with previous exposure to it-who left it behind- who are better cut-out for that aspect of kiruv.August 29, 2013 6:32 pm at 6:32 pm #988090
Sometimes knowledge of their “world” helps, but is it essential? For example, I can tell a teen that many goyim are cruel, not rachmonim by nature, and that TV shows often thrive on other people’s anguish, and they can argue. Then I can say, do you think “Simon” or “Bruno” have a right to crush and humiliate people like that? Then they have this guilty smile, like “this yeshivish lady has a point there”!August 29, 2013 6:37 pm at 6:37 pm #988091
eclipse: I don’t like people who are pretenders, whether they pretend to agree with me or disagree with me. Pretending is pretty much the same as lying, and I don’t like people lying to me.
I think people should be able to accept others ideas and practices as legitimate, even if they don’t always agree with them. For the most part, Modern Orthodox and Chareidi Judaism are very much in sync as far as their beliefs go. Both keep the “major” mitzvos (Shabbos, kashrus, taharas hamishpacha). If you walk into my (Modern Orthodox) shul, you’ll see shiurim going on every night, people learning with chavrusos, etc. There are 3 daf yomi shiurim given every day. Yet some people have this idea that Modern Orthodoxy doesn’t value learning Torah! It’s unfortunate that in many yeshivos, they are taught that YU is an evil place, where people aren’t frum at all! I once was brainwashed into that belief, and luckily realized how untrue it is.
I do think there are certain sects of Judaism that are doing things wrong. In some cases, it’s the beliefs of the sect itself, such as meshichist Lubavitch or Avi Weiss and YCT. In other cases, I think the beliefs behind the scenes are fine, but a huge percentage of a sect has taken things to extremes that are wrong, and it’s more the actions than the actual beliefs. In these cases, I can accept the beliefs as legitimate (even if I don’t follow them), but still decry the actions (such as people attacking women who aren’t dressed to extra-machmir standards).August 29, 2013 6:40 pm at 6:40 pm #988092
eclipse- what mattered to me was that someone cared. someone knew what i was going through and didnt hate me for it. and, knowing that someone out there didnt think i was insane just because i went otd. and that if i was ever in extreme pain( which was almost always) i had someone to talk to, to cry to, someone that didnt judge me. at that point i was in too much emotional pain to realize that i could get all that from Hashem… i dont know the specifics of the person you are dealing with, i can only tell you that in my case, knowing someone was always available to talk to me is what kept me from committing suicide. just listen. say you feel the persons pain. the place where the healing happens is in the persons heart and it can happen anywhere.August 29, 2013 6:46 pm at 6:46 pm #988093
Longing-for-Israel: Wow, many kids must feel you understand their struggles well. Question: Must the “combination approach” be jumpstarted FIRST by meeting the kids “b’asher hoo sham”/where they are right now, and THEN a bit of both? Or there are really no hard-and-fast rules for this?
Genrally that meeting them on their turf is the way it goes because in most cases why would they listen to you if youre talking about shabbos, they have heard it all before. They want to hear something new, different and exciting. And believe you me hearing soemone who is dressed yeshivish talk street (not bad street, just street) is very fascinating to them. Once you grab their attention and show them that your fun and interesting, then you sneak in the shabbos and the mitzvot. Again this is generally, obviously every single person is different.August 29, 2013 6:48 pm at 6:48 pm #988094
the-art-of-moi: Some of your lines should be patented, they are so stunningly eloquent!
Examples: “…at that point i was in too much emotional pain to realize that i could get all that from Hashem…” and
“the place where the healing happens is in the persons heart and it can happen anywhere.”
I wasn’t referring to a specific case.August 29, 2013 7:00 pm at 7:00 pm #988095
Longing4Israel: Yes, sometimes I’m grateful for the-exposure-by-default that I’ve encountered in my life! It’s helped me numerous times. Other times, I wish I didn’t have to know ANY of it:)August 29, 2013 7:09 pm at 7:09 pm #988096
When I became frum again, I did some kiruv work, for NCSY. Here’s an interesting story that happened:
I was working as an adviser on the Spring Regional Shabbaton. On Sunday, they took us to a park, and there were all sorts of sports games being played. I dressed for playing ball, meaning I was wearing a t-shirt. It had the logo for my favorite band (Metallica) on it.
I was at the basketball court, taking a break from playing, when I heard my name being called. I saw one of the kids coming over to talk to me. He was about 14-15 years old at the time. His family was not very observant, and he was in public school. He said to me, “Wow, nice shirt! You’re a Metallica fan?” I replied that I was. “Wow… I never would have thought you were a fan!”
Me: “Why not?”
Kid: “Well, I saw you on Shabbos. You were wearing a suit, with a white shirt. By davening this morning, you had on a nice button-down shirt and a jacket. You didn’t seem like a cool guy – you just seemed like a religious guy. But now it looks like you’re not that religious, you’re cool!”
Me: “Why can’t I be both religious AND cool?”
Kid: “Well, I thought they don’t really go well together?”
Me: “Well, you just said I’m both. Doesn’t that show you otherwise? You can be a good, observant Jew and still be cool!”
Him: “Yeah, maybe you can. I need to think about this!”
At the end of the Shabbaton, he asked me for my phone number so he could keep in touch. On Erev Shavuos, I was taking a small nap to prepare for the night of learning, when I was awakened by my phone ringing. It was the kid from the Shabbaton. “Hi, Feif? It’s <kid’s name>. I just wanted to call you to wish you a good Chag. I also wanted to let you know something. I thought a lot about what we spoke about on the Shabbaton. I decided to give it a try. I signed up for an all-night learning session tonight through NCSY, and I’m going to try it for the first time!”
I was elated! I congratulated him, and wished him a good Yom Tov.
I saw him the next year at Shabbatons again a few times. Then I got married and stopped doing the NCSY work. I was told by a friend who was still doing it that the boy ended up switching to a yeshiva, and leaving public school. He ended up going to yeshiva in Israel for a few years also.
Honestly, I have no idea where that boy is now. But I still marvel at what happened because I wore a Metallica t-shirt to play basketball one day.August 29, 2013 7:13 pm at 7:13 pm #988097
Definitely, the unconditional love displayed – no matter what I was wearing or what I was doing.August 29, 2013 7:29 pm at 7:29 pm #988098
Feif Un: Wow!!!!
streetgeek: Thanks. Makes sense. Now,if you are a girl, I have a question – not an accusation,just a question: Why do girls who are struggling with tznius expect THE MEN WHO DO TRY VERY HARD TO GUARD THEIR EYES to be relaxed and comfortable around them when they are improperly dressed? To be treated respectfully (which the girl herself seeks), one should be willing to honor the sensitivities of others, too, no? Please note, I have had very direct experience observing this phenomena, and it’s hard to for me to grasp.August 29, 2013 8:26 pm at 8:26 pm #988099
I did because I discovered that there are multiple acceptable paths towards avodas Hashem.August 29, 2013 8:39 pm at 8:39 pm #988101
eclipse: I hear you loud and clear, but obviously you aren’t privy to a trouble teen’s thoughts. Just one thing before I explain- I’m not talking about everyone, nor am I trying to put anyone in a box, just saying how I felt and what I was thinking (or rather wasn’t thinking…) To most teens the world revolves around ME and what I want and what I think. There isn’t room for others in a head that was full of anger, confusion and guilt. I’ll admit, I had zero respect towards anyone, and if anyone had a problem with me, that was just too bad. (Not to worry, B”H my attitude has since improved.)So the fact that my friends, teachers and family still respected and loved me for who I was, was a real turn on for me. (I’ll admit, in my deepest hidden parts of my heart, I felt bad that I was hurting them, and that did deter me from doing a lot of things I would’ve!!!)So even though I shrugged off hugs and would refuse to look them in the eye, I craved the knowledge that I was still “good enough” for them.August 29, 2013 9:10 pm at 9:10 pm #988102
streetgeek: You explained that very, very well. You are right, very angry or very depressed people simply are too preoccupied to deal with the effects of their actions/inactions on others.
(sigh) We live in complex times, indeed.August 29, 2013 9:15 pm at 9:15 pm #988107
interjection: You “did” means you “came back” because you realized it didn’t have to be “all or nothing”?August 29, 2013 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm #988108
Lev: By sprinkling, you mean not too intense, right?
Right. Traditional kiruv is not usually the correct approach here; because kids already have the knowledge of the Jewish world. If and when they do decide to come back, they can glide right back in to the way they were brought up, albeit with a lot more meaning and understanding this time around.
Having a DMC (sorry guys) over a game of pool is nice all the time, and coming to you for shabbos is nice every once in a while.
Oh, also: It helps if you smoke. Just saying. Knowing your sports is a close second.August 29, 2013 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm #988109
Lev: Having a DMC (sorry guys) over a game of pool is nice all the time, and coming to you for shabbos is nice every once in a while.
Doesn’t that make you lose the pool game? I don’t know much about pool, but I’d lose any game I was playing during a DEEP MEANINGFUL CONVERSATION.August 30, 2013 12:02 am at 12:02 am #988110
Distract the enemy. IT’S THE ONLY WAYAugust 30, 2013 3:21 am at 3:21 am #988111
Hey LevAryeh, so that transformation in the Chumra song was real!?
Did you once act in a Kiruv video where everyone turned around when the newcomer entered the Beis Medrash?August 30, 2013 7:15 am at 7:15 am #988112
HaLeiVi – Haha no, I’m not chasiddish (in any way).
And YES! How in the world did you put that together?! That was a video we did for Oorah’s Shmorg a few years back… and btw, I didn’t look like “that” back then either; I was told to look like a typical OTD kid. So I put on a Hollister hoodie and about half a bottle of hair gel (which was cool back then).August 30, 2013 10:32 am at 10:32 am #988113
(partly in response to the poem you posted)
You’ve posted some stuff about yourself here, and I’m sorry you went through so much. I think theres a common language of pain, even if its not the same pain, and someone who’s felt it, can understand the emotions someone else feels. Having been there, I know sometimes it hurts and sometimes it hurts even more, but if you keep in mind that maybe one day down the road, you’ll be able to help someone else because of something you’ve been through, it makes it a little better to know that you can turn hard into something good. You sound like a very mature person and money can buy lots of things, but thats not one of them.
Hang in there, from someone who gets it.
🙂September 29, 2013 4:04 am at 4:04 am #988114
oh my, you sound like such a nice person! thanks for the encouragement. i am planning on getting my degree in social working someday…. i feel like Hashem put me through everything so i could help people and I’m not going to disappoint him! Sorry i didn’t respond earlier, i was away for a few weeks.November 19, 2013 7:49 am at 7:49 am #988115
LABoy, How can I get hold of that, BTW?November 19, 2013 2:14 pm at 2:14 pm #988116
For those of you who went off:
Was it because the outside people came to your shabbos table and pulled you off, or did they bring you to their dunkin donuts and draw you in?November 19, 2013 3:52 pm at 3:52 pm #988117
Other than the Shmorg, I don’t know if it’s anywhere. You could check YouTube. (OorahKR is their channel name.)November 19, 2013 3:58 pm at 3:58 pm #988118
For those who are currently off:
Do you generally consider yourself more at home in Dunkin Donuts or while smoking hookah? Please note your profession if relevant (eg. police officer)November 21, 2013 5:44 am at 5:44 am #988119
Profession: CR addict
Status: back online
Note- Went off due to emotional turmoil. Returned after fruitlessly seeking happiness elsewhere.
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