Dirty Harrys

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63 Responses

  1. Garnel Ironheart says:

    > First and foremost, they have kept us honest. They have made us think through important issues that the rest of us take for granted. They give us no respite until we can explain what needs explaining. They have buoyed us with their spirit and enthusiasm.

    And maybe that’s the problem. While many in the FFB part of the Torah world are looking for inspiration and see BT’s as inspiring, some others see them as a threat. Their Yiddishkeit is stale, a form a rote, something they do simply because that’s the way they’re always done it. The BT shows them up by coming from nothing and then doing what they, the FFB’s, are supposed to be expert at, but doing it better!

    Is it any wonder, then, that some might reject BT’s?

    As for the risk of foreign influences, I recall a story from one of my rabbis about a young girl in a large Jewish community near where I live who was told one day that her best friend was no longer allowed to play with her. Why? Because although this little girl did not have a TV in her home, she played with other girls who did and the mother of the best friend was worried about indirect contamination.

    No, I doubt this mother is typical of her community but enough people out there like that will stand out and create the external impression that they are the norm.

  2. G says:

    FFB’s often look down upon BT’s, regarding their non-standard behavior as “harryish.”

    I am going to keep on saying this until people who DON’T actually spend alot of time in yeshiva these days pay attention to someone who DOES:

    BEING A “HARRY” HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH BEING A BA’AL TESHUVA!

  3. joel rich says:

    Living in the mixed neighborhoods that so many of us do, none of us have a fighting chance at incorporating the taharas einayim that meant so much to Yidden in the past, and continues to be important for those who live in places like Bnei Brak. But we do not live in Bnei Brak. Should we feel guilty that we don’t, and strive to move ourselves and our children there as quickly as possible?
    ==========================================

    An excellent question. Why not pose it to the gedolim as a yes or no question (i.e. all other things being equal) and see what response you get?

    KT

  4. tzippi says:

    As an aside, sometimes I feel like a Harriet. FFB I may be, but I don’t know all the rules myself, maybe because I was born, bred, and lived in out of town enclaves.

    But one concerns me most of all is that parents won’t let their children be friends with children who have contact with unobservant relatives. The angle I’m coming from is that such parents, and there are many, are in effect trying to raise nazirim! Unless they have total 24/7 surveillance over their children, there will be foreign substances, however minute, they will be exposed to. This is reality.

    I am not saying that people can not, or should not, raise their children in an insular environment. I find myself sometimes of the camp that thinks that “the expiration date” has come, to a degree. No way do I see myself ever owning a TV,for example, though I grew up with one. (And one can read Rabbi Kelleman’s excellent, excellent book, To Kindle a Soul, for more on TV.) Many, if not most, thinking people are living in a more insular way than they were raised. I have immense respect for the people who will read every book before their children do, who are careful, as long as they are on this side of neurotic, about what they allow in their homes, all the while maintaining their cool and a spirit of simcha in the home. And yet on the other hand, I’m somewhat of a neo-Hirschian. (Though I’m aware that some would consider me a pseudo-Hirschian as practically everything I know about RSRH I learned in Breuer’s seminary.)

    But the parents of Mishpachaland may well have to bring a korban chatas when their children finish growing up.

  5. Harry Maryles says:

    Personally, I kind of like the name ‘Harry’. So… what’s the problem? 🙂

  6. no mishpacha says:

    Dear Rabbi Adlerstein,

    I could not get past the begginning of your article without registering a protest IMVHO Mishpacha magazine cannot be called a chareidi publication. In fact oe of its regular feature editors has said to me that as a selling point they seek to emphasize the blemishes of the chareidi world. Hardly an ubiased startig point! We can cheerfully admit that our far right wing universe has its problems and that there is a positive benefit in raising the public conciousness of those problems; but, one who stakes out position of priori seeking problems is not serving the public weal I believe in English we ll tht “yellow journlism”. And as such I would find such source to be a very suspet soure on which to base my findings. It does not seem to be consistent with your experience either!

  7. Mike S says:

    Some of the behaviors toward the BTs, and even the children of BTs, described in Mishpacha seem to be clear violations of the issur of ona’at devarim. A mechanech who tolerates, or worse yet encourages, children teasing the children of ba’alei tshuvah should be treated no differently than one who encourages the children to eat unkosher food. He should be exposed and dismissed; yet according to the article, this is encouraged by parents.

  8. Big Maybe says:

    Parents today have it rough. I don’t have to elaborate – my fellow parents out there know what I’m talking about. It’s a daily struggle to keep our kids. We need to monitor their learning, their friends, the books they’re reading, the games they’re playing, the places to which they are going. This is in addition to making a living to pay staggering bills. We daven 3 times a day and have in mind every child. For crying out loud, we don’t need more challenges!

    I am wary of questioning the decision of a parent not to allow her child to associate with a particular individual.

    If a parent wants to avoid BTs because he perceives a threat to his or her child, respect that choice. The only person that is equipped to make a decision like that is the parent. Not some righteous outsider who decided otherwise. It smacks of “diversity” liberalism.

    And if the parent was wrong, well she erred on the side of caution. No problem with that to my mind! Many parents don’t allow their kids to use the library, even if it ostensibly kosher and clean. Isn’t it a shame that the child is deprived from all the educational material? Guess what – the parent knows that too, she weighed the pros and cons, and made a decision. An informed decision.

  9. Michoel says:

    This is a very important topic so let’s PLEASE discuss it with calm heads. As a BT who learned for years in very mainstream Charedi Yeshivos, lived in Monsey and Flatbush and now raises a family in Baltimore. I think I have a broad perspective on the issue. We are very close friends with a family of baalei t’shuvah that were rejected by Kiryat Sefer. They had written on their application that they had learned (only) in Ohr Someach and Neve, respectively. I have many other friends, also baalei t’shuvah, that learned in O. S., Neve or other similar mosdos and then went on (at least the husband) to learn in Mir, Chaim Berlin etc. They were all accepted in Kiryat Sefer, Beitar and other places and they have not had great difficulty getting the kids (including daughters) into schools, no more so than your average FFB family trying to get in to decent chadarim and Beis Yaakov’s. Of course, all these families agreed to sign onto the tznius admission policy, and in their conduct, gave every indication that they would take it seriously.

    KS has VERY MANY BTs, despite it’s exclusive policies. They want to have a certain confidence that members and parents can live within their societal norms.

    When I learned in Chaim Berlin, there were many BT’s and probably a majority married FFB girls. Yes, those girls tended to be a bit older or had some other factor that limited their options but this was definitely not always the case.

    to be continued bli neder

  10. ClooJew says:

    While I admit this is a solid jumping-off point for an essay on Ahavas Yisrael, this is the third blog upon which I have had, lulei demistafina, to register a protest. One problem that the blogosphere seems to suffer from is to accept these stories as absolute truth.

    I know many, many BTs in Passaic and in Monsey who do not feel second-class, who are very comfortable in the shuls they choose, and whose children are in the same yeshivos as their neighbors.

    You, sir, are very involved in kiruv. Do you believe this is an accurate portrayal of post-BT life? The article you reference just sounded to me like a disgruntled BT and not representative of the BT community.

    The BT who is genuine will always find other genuine Jews, genuine shuls, and genuine frum communities that will be accepting and embracing. It is to the BTs advantage that the few who don’t want him are probably the very ones he ought to avoid (and that goes for non BTs as well).

    Of course, if a BT wants to adopt the schtick of certain elements of frum society, he ought not to complain when that very same schtick comes back to bite him in the rear!

  11. C.Z. says:

    One cannot accept as fact the attitudes reported in Mishpacha. R. Adlerstein reported the Charedi schools in LA dont have that attitude. I can say the same of all the orthodox schools, including the charedi ones, in my own city as well. And prior to reading that article, I never once heard the term “Harry”, (though I suppose it could be a neoligism.) So, while the article is indeed disturbing, it also seems to be fiction, as least as far as most of the world is concerned.

    Important caveat – none of this means one’s status as a “BT” is unnoticed. A lot of BT’s I know feel most comfortable around other baleei teshuvah, or kiruv workers (who are often themselves ballei teshuvah.) Just as most people can understand the desire of such BT’s to socialize with people similarly situated to them, so people must understand that many born frum people feel most comfortable around born frum people. And for comparison, that’s true of blacks and whites, too, despite decades and decades of laws and regulations forced down society’s throat. But that’s not discrimination agaisnt ballei teshuvah, any more than they themselves discriminate when they hang out with other BT’s. To the extent this is the gripe of some, they should come to grips with it.

  12. Lawrence M. Reisman says:

    Having read the article, I decided to track down “Avakesh,” the source of much of the anti BT comments in the article. The reader should know that what was quoted was from postings in November, 2006, over 18 months ago. If the author had to go that far back to find something to justify the point, it says something. Also, “Avakesh” himself seems to have strong sympathies towards one group that while it does extensive Kiruv work, makes a point of keeping BTs segregated long after they have become frum, and makes a point of segregating their children when it comes to shidduchim. This, of course, is not reflected in the article.

  13. michoel halberstam says:

    Despite my inclination to agree with Rabbi Adlerstein’s criticism of those who exclude, or seek to exclude BT’s I think an approach can be articulated that cen explain the phenomenon. I have often observed that the maamar Chazal “Divrei Torah Nishlu l’mayim” ( The words of Torah can be compared to water”), to mean among other things that, just as water can not be kept our of a house, and always finds its way in through cracks and crevices, so too does the Torah find its way in to the Jewish heart. This is one of the Nissim Geluyim of our times, that so many people are “found” by the Torah every year. It is a sign of the life force which resurrects the dry bones of our Jewish world

    However, our religious institutions were designed to educate all our children. They presuppose that a certain number have basic knowledge and instincts which they seek to build on. Because of this, they can only absorb, or better said, digest, a certain number of those who are different without a collapse of the institutions.

    It is certainly true that we need to realize that we have been issued a heavenly call that we are obligated to answer. At the same time, we need to nurture ideas about our faith which allow for a greater appreciation of differences. This appears to be the bottom line of an awful lot of our discussions these days.

    All this having been said, there is certainly no excuse for self appointed “protectors of the faith” deciding who is acceptable and who is not. It is likely that a jew growing up two generations from now will look at us with very little sympathy and understanding.

  14. Larry says:

    It’s sadly ironic: those segments of the Orthodox community that are willing to ostracize other Jews, in their fear of contamination from the outside world, end up resembling that outside world in important ways. Like much of the outside world, they have adopted a posture that is supremely self-centered, that puts one’s own perceived interests above those of all others, and that has abandoned any pretense of a mission, any reason for being beyond self-interested survival. Such segments of the Orthodox community have rendered themselves irrelevant to both the Jewish community and the world. Can anyone truly maintain that this is the way of HaShem and His Torah?

  15. apov says:

    ” It is easier to avoid difficult choices concerning secular dress, speech, mores, styles, and aspirations by putting distance between us and them. This is a perfectly legitimate expression of devotion to HKBH – but it is not the only one.”
    If as you say ” this is a perfectly legitimate expression etc. ” then there is your answer.
    also , the fact that we have much to learn from BT’s does not and should not negate negative influences . Unless you deny that they exist . I did not see that in your post .

  16. zalman says:

    Gevalt! I agree with all of your eloquent and intellectual points but where is the outrage that sincere and good people are being mistreated?

  17. Bob Miller says:

    As a discerning people, we should be and often are able to size people up without stereotyping. Some, though, will inevitably use that crutch, not only to the detriment of worthy BTs but to their own detriment.

  18. Yitzchok Adlerstein says:

    Having read the article, I decided to track down “Avakesh,” the source of much of the anti BT comments in the article. The reader should know that what was quoted was from postings in November, 2006, over 18 months ago. If the author had to go that far back to find something to justify the point, it says something. Also, “Avakesh” himself seems to have strong sympathies towards one group that while it does extensive Kiruv work, makes a point of keeping BTs segregated long after they have become frum, and makes a point of segregating their children when it comes to shidduchim. This, of course, is not reflected in the article.

    That’s why the only part of it that I quoted directly was from a (recent) issue of Mishpacha.

    I am wary of questioning the decision of a parent not to allow her child to associate with a particular individual. If a parent wants to avoid BTs because he perceives a threat to his or her child, respect that choice…And if the parent was wrong, well she erred on the side of caution. No problem with that to my mind!

    A huge problem with that in my mind. If the parent was wrong, he/she committed innumerable wrongs of ona’as devarim, withheld chesed, and if anyone who was shunned by the process incurred permanent damage to their ruchniyus, retzichah as well.

    Every move we make that isn’t unambiguously demanded by halacha brings along certain consequences. What people think is a chumra in chinuch is a kula in v’ahavta le-re’acha kamocha. It is very foolish to think that being machmir is the safest route to go.

    If as you say ” this is a perfectly legitimate expression etc. ” then there is your answer.

    Not at all. The approach is legitimate only to the extent that it does not hurt or disenfranchise others. By others I include not only BT’s, but potential BT’s (who with a bit of breathing space can be gently helped along a gradual path of increased observance), Sefardim (who are excoriated as Franks, and whose banishment from many haredi schools has reached such crisis proportions that R Elyashiv had to intervene on their behalf) and the children living in such a system themselves. With an estimated 20,000 off the derech haredi kids in Israel, when will people wake up to the fact that too much uniformity – just like too much freedom – can be devastating.

    As I have written before, I am cheered by the school some of my grandchildren attend in Dallas, which welcomes not-yet-frum kids and does not make their mothers sign a tzniyus agreement – all in consultation with a major American rosh yeshiva.

  19. Jacob Haller says:

    Big Maybe wrote

    “I am wary of questioning the decision of a parent not to allow her child to associate with a particular individual”

    Agreed. As long as the key word is “individual”.

  20. Jacob Haller says:

    Continuation to Big Maybe who wrote

    “And if the parent was wrong, well she erred on the side of caution. No problem with that to my mind! Many parents don’t allow their kids to use the library, even if it ostensibly kosher and clean. Isn’t it a shame that the child is deprived from all the educational material? Guess what – the parent knows that too, she weighed the pros and cons, and made a decision. An informed decision”

    A questionable comparison regarding libraries. There aren’t potential issues of Ona’as D’varim with buildings.

    Assuming that the part about “an informed decision” is applicable to those who forbade their children’s contact with BT’s, how do you know it was an informed decision?
    Did they ask a shaileh?

  21. LOberstein says:

    My chareidi granddaughter taught me a new phrase,”zeh lo mekubal”. She has internalized the need for conformity that is a sine qua non of Israeli Chareidi life. If she were to vere even slightly from the accepted way, she would not be accepted. I thinkk that in the end, she still may find that she will never really be accepted.
    On the other hand, we have been so open and tolerant of diversity that some of our dear ones test the limits or don’t know that there are limits. So, maybe it is a choice between isolation or assimilation. If so I can’t take the isolation, so I will have to take my chances.

  22. Rachel says:

    Despite my yeshiva background, I am a BT and make a conscious decision everyday to what extent and how I will straddle two worlds. Why did Hashem confuse our language and intend that we gingerly interface with many nations and cultures…. and we’ve always known we had the best resources for purifying every space we inhabited and elevating every lowly thing. How we continue to do that is, as I think R Adlerstein infers, our greatness as a priestly people. It is our greatest challenge– even with kids to chauffeur and classes to take and prayers to offer. A previous commentator objected that there are already too many challenges, but this being not the least, it is the one Hashem prepared us for in the midbar. Speaking for myself, it is the most dynamic and engrossing part of the task, the most compelling and the most elevating.

  23. Baruch Horowitz says:

    “The hareidi community has “enough troubles with its own young people without importing ‘trouble’ from outside”

    I assume this refers to the situation of “kids at risk” in Israel. I have two challenges to the effectiveness of such insularity whether in Israel or in America, besides the fact that I disagree that that the BT educational situation is in of itself “trouble”(unless a parent makes the mistakes discussed in Rabbi Yair Spolter’s Aliyah article, which would apply equally to FFB’s):

    First, any struggle in connection with the various components of chovos halevavos is internal; one can not completely shield even the most insular children from the different types of conflicts involving thoughts and feelings(as in the story of the “Chasid and the Katchka” in R. AH Fried’s article). I am not challenging Community A’s right, in general, to construct taller and thicker walls than Community B’s based on Community A’s legitimate needs, rather, that at some point, all agree that external walls become useless against internal conflicts, no matter how externally frum the child is.

    Second, to what extent can anyone control whether all of their great-grandchildren will remain frum, and how should someone go about insuring that? How much is “hishtadlus”, and how much is “siyata Dishmaya”, dependent on spiritual merits ? No one could have predicted the Communist upheaval, and descendents of famous European gedolim, over the years, were not frum. According to this line of thinking, perhaps being a little more inclusive and welcoming, whether to BT families or to FFB families who don’t conform(see Mishpacha article by R. Shneur Aisenstark; obviously there also are limits), is a bigger zechus and protection that over the long run a person’s own progeny, will stay religious ?

  24. Steve Brizel says:

    Like it or not, despite its claims to the contrary, Mishpacha is a Charedi publication that competes for the same readers as Yated and Hamodia. I am never surprised by its zigs and zags in its editorial and feature coverage or its letter writers who , more often than not, express are more Charedi than the editorial writers or featured columnists. FWIW, the views expressed in the linked to letters by no means held solely by the Charedi world. The MO world also has its share of those who are hostile to BTs.

  25. Jason Berg says:

    You’re not going to like this, but I am a BT and am seriously considering limiting my kids access to some FFB families.
    Some of the FFB kids in our shul are disrespectful to both the Rav and the Torah.
    The FFB father won’t stand up for any Kaddish except perhaps his own Mourners.
    He finishes Amidah so fast you’d think he was at an auction.
    Shows up late, if at all, and then talks loud enough to make it difficult for the respectful BTs.
    It’s extremely difficult to be a sincere BT. Parents and family and friends that don’t understand, pulling young children out of public schools in the hopes that they’ll catch up, and many more. Why should I expose my kids to an FFB that takes it all for granted? Yes, he can do an amazing Haftarah at the drop of the hat but does he encourage words of Torah at his dinner table?

    I hope my FFB grandchildren don’t turn out like that.

  26. Peleg Strauss says:

    A few people mentioned the theme that FFB’s are worried about the ‘challenges’ and ‘contamination’ the us BT’s and the outside world present. And I think they should be. Those people are just the one’s who are going to kill their kids intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. Kids ask questions, at least normal, healthy one’s do. They have finely-tuned baloney meters. However, this destructive push to conform, to fettet out every last humrah and give them all the same importance, destroys a person inside. It literally breeds kids at risk. I’ve known some of them. They are almost all intelligent, sensitive kids, but they are built in such a way that just because the some authoritative rabbi says it is true, doesn’t mean they still don’t have questions and wonder about it. Shut down, or at least try to shut down, or circumscribe their intellectual skeptism and curiosity, and such a soul, to survive, rebels. The FFB’s are forcing our best and brighest out onto the streets. Why must they do that?

    I find it very, very, insulting to hear that I am a contaminate, but I take pride in the fact that I present a challenge. It is a good thing to force someone to rethink their committment and thereby to come to a deeper convinction. But that is a hard thing to do and it is dangerous for some people. What if someone goes through the process and comes to the conclusion that maybe this frum stuff really isn’t what I thought it was? Or, at the very least, they’d be forced to confront some tough questions. Nope, rather than act honestly and confront *themselves* they chicken out and shoot the messenger. Someone mentioned that we should do things like they did it back (my interpretation) in the ‘old days’. Right, that’s a good idea. Go back to poverty, persecution, a dismal life, but full of Torah. I don’t think that is such a good idea. You can be rich, function perfectly well in secular society, be happy, and have a life full of Torah.

    Do these FFB’s really thing that they are doing such a good job of circling the wagons? Right. Do any of you know how many *frum* alcoholics and drug addicts there are out there? You don’t see them, but they are right there, sitting next to you in shul. If the FFB community’s efforts to insulate themselves from ‘contaminates’, why all the addicts, alcoholcis, and kids at risk?

    Instead of rolling yourselves up into ever tighter balls, like a potato bug, how about trying something different for a change. Afterall, what you have been doing hasn’t been working all that well. If you think that your way of structuring a society works so well, then you are in deep, deep denial. And really, the potato bug really isn’t all that secure because it is relatively easy to squash it, even with it’s hard shell, or open it up against its will. How about acting honest, open, and brave for a change? Admit you haven’t got all the answers. To a lot of people, religion of any kind doesn’t make and sense is just so much baloney and wishful thinking. I understand that point a view very well. I heard a response to it that I think is as honest as it gets. This rabbi was asked why he is frum and he said it’s jsut because he *believes* it to be true. He can’t take G-d into a lab and prove it. He just believes it all. I like that guy. He’d not about to get into arguments about evolution. He just says he doen’t believe it, and that all there is to it. One could argue with that stance, but you gotta respect his honesty and frankness.

    It all comes down to a matter of belief. Are we explaining to our kids why we do as we do? I don’t mean that the answer to that question are going to be found in a Gemora or a Mishnah Bruah. That’s all about how, but not much about the why. Not much about the feeling, the connection to G-d. If you’ve got that, you’ve got a lot. If you haven’t got that, then you’ve got nothing except ritual. That ritual is your only defense, is your only rational. I do the ritual because I’ve got a feeling for it. We are doing a very good job at getting that message across. I don’t think a committed Jew is necessarily one who filters his water. Rather, he is the one who dances Friday night because he’s happy it’s Shabbos again and that he is a Jew he doesn’t have to do anything else for a whole day than enjoy that connect to G-d.

    Is the only way to express a connection to G-d is by worrying incessantly about details? Is that all we are about, the details? One would think so if you watched and listened to what is going on these days. It probably just makes FFB’s mad because so many of us BT’s actually have a committment to G-d that most of them can’t understand and so they fear us. Take a lesson, rather.

    Certainly, there are a bunch of FFB’s who, by my definition, get it right. But they aren’t the ones in power, who are driving our society. See, they don’t have to prove anything by getting everyone to live like them, and so they don’t try to impose their life style on anyone else. They don’t wear their committment on their sleeve; it’s all inside, where it is sincere and honest.

  27. yy says:

    R’ Adlerstein wrote in his comment (18):

    “I am cheered by the school some of my grandchildren attend in Dallas, which welcomes not-yet-frum kids and does not make their mothers sign a tzniyus agreement – all in consultation with a major American rosh yeshiva.”

    PLEASE say more! What’s the school’s name, what is their curriculum, how many pupils, any stats for success??

    Re. R’ Horowitz’s comment (23):”at some point, all agree that external walls become useless against internal conflicts, no matter how externally frum the child is” — I couldn’t agree more and only plead that those who grasp this make a deeper, concerted effort to explain this chochma to the powers that be. The eekar, btw, is NOT that we must stop building the externals once the internal needs become obvious, but put in at least AS MUCH EFFORT in revamping the internal.

  28. Ruth says:

    Post no. 25 from R. Berg is the first one to really “tell it like it is”.

    Living in an ultra-conservative hareidi enclave in E.Y., ALL my sons and daughters have learned and are learning in PRESTIGIOUS, “mainstream” yeshivos and seminars, where many of our FFB friends and neighbors would give their right hand to be accepted – as I know from very many stories. And my husband is not only a BT, but never ever learned in any yeshiva – not even a BT one – and is a complete “am haaretz”. Moreover, as we became BTs comparatively late in life, our two eldest kids were accepted to hareidi schools after learning in secular schools here!

    I have a very large circle of friends, neighbors and acquaintances who are either BTs who have had exactly the same experience as I just described, or FFBs who have married off their children to sons or daughters of BTs.

    Three points:

    1. We are very careful about who we mix with or let our kids mix with. And for us, the criteria are yiras shamayim and Torahdig homes and hashkofa, and STRICT adherence to da’as Torah – which, as R. Berg pointed out, is not the prerogative of FFBs by any stretch. The – tragically – multitudes of FFBs who do not dress with proper tznius, who have internet in their homes, who speak loshon hora…. etc. etc. certainly have absolutely no right to harbor a false sense of superiority over BTs at whatever level of observance.

    2. Regarding secular relatives, how many FFBs don’t have any secular relatives? Anyone would think we were talking 200 years ago, before the wholesale defection of the majority of yidden to secularism.

    3. Obviously, xenophobia is a human phenomenon amongst any group. And so BTs who make no effort to “play by the rules” – however arbitrary or ridiculous or trivial they someimes are – only invites rejection or suspicion. Dress codes, styles of speech, furniture, hobbies, etc. etc. are always tied to more or less rigid conventions among peer groups.

    BTs should have the self confidence to know that to be frum is not a privilege extended to other Jews by a sort of exclusive Hareidi “club” which decides whether to do them the favor or admitting them as they see fit. Keeping Torah and mitzvos is the absolute obligation of every Jew as a Jew, whose background, or family, or whatever is of absolutely no relevance as long as they are equal halachically. Everyone has their own nisayon – some with health, some learning disabilities, some financial, and some with the lack of a frum background and extended family.

    From my own experience, and that of countless others whom I know and have known – for decades – with emuna and hakaras hatov that with all the difficulties sometimes encountered, only BTs can appreciate the full extent of chesed that has been granted us to be able to live our life as Torah Jews and bring up our kids that way.

  29. SM says:

    While I understand the desire to shield children from negative influences and the attempt to control their spiritual development, I must agree with Baruch Horowitz that it seems quite obvious that these matters are not entirely in human control. Therefore, I find it somewhat inconsistent that the bitachon that is so liberally applied by the chareidi world in economic spheres seems to find no place in the crucial areas of menthlechkeit; that they cannot use a small measure of their purportedly pervasive emunah to trust that should they follow the dictates of ahavas yisroel and reach out with kindness, hashem will protect their offspring from the potential negative influences incurred.

  30. Mike S. says:

    Completely off topic, but inspired by one comment in the article. Would a “Neo-Hirschian” be Neo-Neo-Orthodox?

  31. Jacob Haller says:

    To Jason (#25)

    Is this about exposing your kids to persons/families with traits less than sterling (in your view) or this about labeling?

    “I hope my FFB grandchildren don’t turn out like that”

    How might they turn out if they hear their grandpa/zayda/saba rejecting people based on labels?

    BTW, I’m a BT and I learned about sanctifying the Shabbos table via Divrei Torah from many an FFB family that invited me in.

  32. Big Maybe says:

    My point is that to an outside observer, it appears that a parent has succumbed to stereotyping. Here we have what looks like a fine, normal BT family, and this FFB elitist mother forbids her children from associating with them! Outrageous and assur al pi din etc.

    I assert that much of the time – if not close to all the time – what appears to the outsider is a distortion of the truth. You need to consider that the parent might know best! The parent has detected something that the child picked up from his friend and her instinct is screaming DANGER. She has the right to forbid further associating without being second-guessed by reporters and bloggers as to her motives.

  33. He Who Remembers says:

    What does “Harry” mean?

  34. L Oberstein says:

    “The unvarnished reality is that ba’alei teshuvah will be met with resistance and distance in communities under the sway of one hashkafah, but met with a much warmer reception in areas in the spheres of influence of different roshei yeshiva. For many of us, this means finding the ba’alei teshuvah who are being shunned and hurt, and redirecting them – physically and intellectually – to safer havens, where they will be warmly received.”
    I agree totally with this conclusion. Why do we have to be painted with the same brush as all the other chareidim when we don’t act the way they do? Why should one group be more legitimate than another? As our numbers increase, and we are growing by leaps and bounds, the inclusive chareidim will outnumber the exclusive chareidim and they can do whatever they want,live and let live. Just because they think they are more legitimate, doesn’t make it true. Eventually, there have to be schools in Israel for American chareidim, who will find shiduchim with their own kind and not be forced to sublimate their values to a foreign way that is no more legitimate than our own. Time is going to solve this problem. The idea that schools exclude baalei teshuva, Sephardim,etc. is a fact of life, so let’s build without those for whom we are not good enough, we will outnumber them and maybe ourlearn them also.Are they really better?

  35. Daniel says:

    Unfortunatley it goes both ways. I am a BT of 25 years and a musmach working with one of the major Kiruv organizations. My children attend the local yeshiva and my older girls are at the local Beis Yaakov. My oldest girl (10th grade) has an FFB friend from a chashuv, very large multi-generational rabbinic family and she has major hashkafic issues. She has influenced my child very negatively through her mode of non tznius dress, Goth clothing, foul language, disgusting rap music, smoking and general chutzpah.
    Maybe us BT’s have to watch who our kids associate with in the FFB world.

  36. C.Z. says:

    Rabbi Adlerstein writes, in a comment:

    “I am cheered by the school some of my grandchildren attend in Dallas, which welcomes not-yet-frum kids and does not make their mothers sign a tzniyus agreement – all in consultation with a major American rosh yeshiva.”

    1. I had heard of “no TV” agreements [which just promote sheker, in my experience] but had never heard of a “tzniyus agreement”. Is there really such a thing? Dont know whether to laugh or cry.

    2. Why did you feel the need to add that a rosh yeshiva was consulted? And if he wasn’t consulted the idea would be possul? Rabbi A., I think you know better, but the “daas torah” proponents have created a chilling effect whereby you self-censor yourself by adding in such gratuitous fealty to roshei yeshivah. Am I wrong?

  37. kar says:

    1. “(Chazal had something similar in mind when they observe that the Book of Rus offered us nothing new, but was needed to inject some new vistas of chesed into the community. Sometimes, what the tzibbur needs most has to come from the outside.)”

    On what basis do you say that chazal had something similar in mind? All it says is that rus was written to teach of the rewards of gomlei chassadim (not just rus herself, but i believe also chesed done to rus). Where do you get any of this about the lesson of what outsiders contribute one way or the other? It’s not in chazal. Does it appear anywhere else, or is it your own thought?

    2. I think this article is unfair. YOur premise is that the NeoHirschians (and leftward) will welcome BT, and those who reject secular influence, i.e. haredim, will not, all as a consequence of their respective philosophies. Yet the leadership of the haredi community would not agree with the kind of behavior referred to in the article and would certainly not view it as reflecting their philosophy; neither would many of their followers. Maybe what you mean to say is that one of the dangers of the path of isolation from the secular world is that things may get messed up and distored among the followers and hangers on in this area more easily than in a society that is otherwise relatively open, and as a consequence the haredi philosophy is misapplied to result in the things described in the article. But that’s not what you wrote. You wrote that one philosophy welcomes bT, and the other does not – qua philosophy. This is certainly not what the articulators of the philosophy believe, regardless of who mishpacha quotes.

    “If the latter approach is correct, we would view the return to our community of tens of thousands of souls very differently than the interviewee in Mishpacha. We stand in gratitude before the Ribbono Shel Olam, for allowing us to witness the deliberate election of Torah and its values by so many ba’alei teshuvah…. How could we not invite them into our schools and shuls?…Anything else is inconceivable.

    The unvarnished reality is that ba’alei teshuvah will be met with resistance and distance in communities under the sway of one hashkafah…”

    two philosphies, two approaches to BT. You turned to the passive voice in the final sentence I quoted, but you treat it as an aspect of the philosophy. Do you tihnk RElyashiv does not welcome BT, R Steinman, RKanievsky? I watched a tape in which Rebbetzin Kanievsky said at some length to an interviewer that what they do in their house is try to be mekarev people, these people will bring moshiach, it didnt sound like she devalued kiruv or BT. To know if something is an aspect of the philosophy or a corruption of it, you have to look at what the articulators of the philosphy say. I believe you know that you are dealing with a corruption of haredi philosophy and find this essay most puzzling for that reason.

  38. Mina says:

    Two points dovetail here: there is a pervasive fear, perhaps well founded, in the FFB community that their children will go “OTD” (off the derech). IN fact, it is a growing phenomenon, and some askanim maintain that the frum community is hemmoraging more of its own children than they are gaining through the teshuva movement. In my opinion this fear is what underlies most of the exclusivity. The thinking is that if I can erect high enough walls, and limit my children’s exposure to those who are different or involved in the secular world more than we, then “they” won’t rub off on the children to “lead them astray.” To one extent they are right: associating closely with those who are exposed to TV and internet, for example, can affect a child, can “metamay” him in any number of ways.

    HOWEVER, and here’s the rub: children don’t go OTD from knowing about the latest TV craze or some such thing. They go OTD more often due to the hypocrisy and intolerance in their own homes and schools. If the frum world would be more accepting of difference, there would be a place for every child, no matter his talents (or lack thereof) and there would be warmth and acceptance where there is now competition and fear of the other. The very tactic that is being used to protect the children, is in fact possibly driving them further away.

    Similarly, if the home’s hashkafa is as strong as it should be, the children will be strong in their beliefs, and would not be susceptible to a “different” child’s different hashkafa. They would be able to play innocently with others and be a force for good to the other child. Or, if the other child’s hashkafa were so different, to the extent that he cursed or did other unsuitable things, then hopefully the child from the “frummer” home would opt to not be friends. This has happened in our family. Obviously if there is an individual child who is a bad influence, then it is the parents’ perogative to end a friendship, but this should not carry over to groups of people.

    Thirty years ago it seems that the frum world was not so exclusive, they accepted everyone who wanted to go to their schools, and they didn’t have the same “OTD” phenomenon.

  39. sima ir kodesh says:

    Sefardim (who are excoriated as Franks, and whose banishment from many haredi schools has reached such crisis proportions that R Elyashiv had to intervene on their behalf)
    An article of its own needed on this subject!!!. Downright horrendous the situation in EY between the whites (Ashkanazim) and blacks (sefardim). BTW R. Elyashiv’s daughter is principal in the Givat Shaul beis yakov where a few Sefardic families took the school to a beis din and civil court (to stop govt funding) since there is wholesale discrimination towards the charedei sefardic families.

  40. Ori says:

    There needs to be a balance between protecting children, and preparing them for a world which is not a protected greenhouse. They are going to encounter people who don’t follow Charedi norms. Isn’t it better to expose them early to low doses, and to explain to them why some things are right and other wrong while they are still young and want to listen?

  41. Rachel says:

    GOTTA SAY IT…. great forum, but the real discrimination is against kids with special needs and for whom there are few options in any orthodox community. It used to be that a yeshiva never turned away a Jewish child, but today, kids have to qualify for a school. This is a travesty.

  42. Yehoshua Friedman says:

    The author of the book OTD suggested that a kid growing up in a frum environment feels the worst and is most likely to go OTD when presented with a “my way or the highway” ultimatum by either parents or educators or both. If you are to the right of me you are a fanatic, if you are to the left of me you are a shaygetz, koifer, etc. Add the old leftover skirmishing between Litvaks and Hasidim. That leaves no way out for the kid except to back his/her bag and leave. Wise parents and educators realize this and are either open to whatever nuances their kids choose, or even better, offer alternatives.
    In EY there is another problem which offspring of both BTs and English speakers have when they raise kids in an English-speaking (and perhaps BT as well) enclave. The youth grow up with peculiar expectations on the part of the parents and a peculiar cultural environment which produces identity probles. This could be part of the source of the fears of FFB society. These problems should be tackled by both sides. They exist both in hareidi and MO/RZ society.

  43. Mark Frankel says:

    When we received this article at http://www.BeyondBT.com, a Baalei Teshuva web site, we decided not to post it because we thought it was sensationalist and inaccurate. After Rabbi Horowitz, Rabbi Adlerstein and Rabbi Maryles posted it, we decided to ask our audience of BTs about the articles main premise of whether they felt they were generally treated as second class citizens as.

    The response was that although clearly there are some cases of mistreatment, in general the communities that our readers are familiar do not treat BTs as second class citizens.

    The shidduch parsha is a little more complicated as one commentor pointed out, as there is an overall hierarchy being established there that effect the entire Frum community, not just BTs.

    A question to Rabbi Adlerstein. You said
    “We recognize the challenge of melding two communities together – but we run to embrace the challenge, rather than flee from its problems.”

    Do you view BTs as a separate community from the FFB community? I don’t think you do in general, but at some level I wonder whether we’ll ever earn complete 1st class status, even in the eyes of a BT advocate like yourself.

    For the record, I think many BTs hope that you will at some point view us as an integral part of your community at all levels, and not just here to keep you honest or as a good test case on how to deal with integration.

    The post about this topic at Beyond BT can be found here.

  44. MiMedinat HaYam says:

    1. you mention the http://www.jewishvoiceandopinion.com article, but no mention of the very last point in the article (the editor has a habit of being too wordy/page-y, and usually, as here, does not organize her often valid argument properly). an attendee at the aguda conventions (who is an active blogger) mentions that of the first class in the yeshiva of cleveland, five of seven did NOT come from shomer shabat homes, and today are exemplars of charedi orthodoxy. BUT, the valid comment is, today — they wont be accepted in our yeshivot. the response was — it was a different era! oh yeah! “a different era”????

    2. a certain community in central jersey, a few years ago, started a day school network to attract irreligious jews — the community’s first kiruv project. it was somewhat controversial, but the organizers had the proper “protectziya” so it was tolerated. but an unusual thing happened: they found out that it was a good employment project for their seminary graduates, a proper work environment for their daughters. so now, any decent bais yaakov graduate who wants to earn a (somewhat) decent living can go “out of town” and teach at a shalom torah academy school (or one of their spawns) and if the teacher is not competent, ends up teaching at a local yeshiva ketana / bais yaakov, (unless she becomes a mortgage broker or other real estate professional, in which case she earns a good living, but thats another story). my point is — that particular community, which shuns bt’s, grudgingly, if at all admits them to their schools, uses them to make a living. (another disclaimer — the administrator makes a VERY good living in those schools — he’s a fundraiser after all; this applies to ALL yeshivot in america!)

    3. Of course, if a BT wants to adopt the schtick of certain elements of frum society, he ought not to complain when that very same schtick comes back to bite him in the rear!

    Comment by ClooJew — July 21, 2008 @ 12:30 pm

    is that that the proper attitude? but its an accepted attitude.!

    4. correction — improper language. the word “era” in 1) above should be “tekufah”. i forgot my “yeshivish shprach”

  45. Y. Wikler says:

    Unfortunately, you do not comment on the next volume of Jewish Voice and Opinion where three people, myself included, refute the author’s claims. Despite his “findings”, the author not realize that people are people, some nice and some not. It is not “chareidi” to look down on others, and most do not. Even those that do are consistent. They do not call BTs “Harries”, but they call all who are not like them “Harries”. By the way, that term is not used by anyone older than 30, nor is it understood by anyone who does not use it. Loshon harah kills, whether it kills a BT, MO, Chareidi, etc.

  46. Yitzchok Adlerstein says:

    When we received this article at http://www.BeyondBT.com, a Baalei Teshuva web site, we decided not to post it because we thought it was sensationalist and inaccurate. After Rabbi Horowitz, Rabbi Adlerstein and Rabbi Maryles posted it, we decided to ask our audience of BTs about the articles main premise of whether they felt they were generally treated as second class citizens as.

    The response was that although clearly there are some cases of mistreatment, in general the communities that our readers are familiar do not treat BTs as second class citizens.

    I wouldn’t want to take issue with BeyondBT, even if I disagreed. It is one of the most worthwhile sites on the Internet, period. I would love to agree, and chalk up my comments to some off-the-wall commenters. However, reading the comments on Rabbi Horowitz’s site leaves me decidedly not reassured. There you will find a good mix of both confirmations and denials, and gradually be able to piece together where a problem may exist and where it doesn’t. Rabbi Benzion Twerski’s comment in particular must be read by anyone who has any doubts about the mistreatment of BT’s in parts of the FFB world.

    A question to Rabbi Adlerstein. You said
    “We recognize the challenge of melding two communities together – but we run to embrace the challenge, rather than flee from its problems.”
    Do you view BTs as a separate community from the FFB community? I don’t think you do in general, but at some level I wonder whether we’ll ever earn complete 1st class status, even in the eyes of a BT advocate like yourself

    Thought you’d caught me on that one, didn’t you, Mark? Well, maybe you did. I definitely consider BT’s a separate community, and believe it is a major error not to.

    Relax. What I mean is that for a good few years before they get their sea-legs, new BT’s most definitely are a group with unique needs. It is an ongoing task and challenge to assimilate them properly into the mainstream FFB community. Too many people think that if you get a new initiate to the point that he’s wearing a dark suit/ she’s wearing skirts below the knee, that you’ve “gotten” them. This is a tragic error.

    BT’s need follow-up and guidance for many years, possibly decades. (Perhaps there will be another essay at some point concerning the problems BT’s have when their kids are admitted to good mainstream schools, but have to navigate the straits and shoals of a school system with which they have no experience, not having grown up within it themselves. They need people who can help them out before any problems arise. Similarly, they need guidance when their own kids get close to the age of shidduchim. All the more so do they need ongoing help with issues that arise in the first few years of living a halachic life style.

    I make a point of this because there are some kiruv organizations that have been pushed by exigencies of funding availability to maximize the number of people they can bring in and “turn around,” but not be able to provide the long-term support that veteran mekarvim know is necessary. Too many FFB’s look at externals: extent of kiyum hamitzvos, modes of dress to decide that they can pay a bit less attention to an individual because he/she has clearly “made it.”

    Accepting the truth of Torah makes all kinds of demands on the inner person. It is not like signing your name in the back of the Gideon Bible. When BT’s are too quickly assumed to be part of the larger community, people often do not due their due diligence to insure that the necessary internal changes – in midos tovos, in hashkafah – parallel the visible external ones.
    So yes, Mark. I would prefer to emphasize that we are talking about two communities, and that the FFB one should see it as a G-d given challenge to successfully meld them together.

    On what basis do you say that chazal had something similar in mind? All it says is that rus was written to teach of the rewards of gomlei chassadim (not just rus herself, but i believe also chesed done to rus). Where do you get any of this about the lesson of what outsiders contribute one way or the other? It’s not in chazal. Does it appear anywhere else, or is it your own thought?

    See The Book of Our Heritage, Sivan, pg. 109. (It was translated by Rabbi Bulman zt”l. Chances are that I heard straight from R. Bulman a good deal more than is on the page.

    Do you tihnk RElyashiv does not welcome BT, R Steinman, RKanievsky? I watched a tape in which Rebbetzin Kanievsky said at some length to an interviewer that what they do in their house is try to be mekarev people, these people will bring moshiach, it didnt sound like she devalued kiruv or BT. To know if something is an aspect of the philosophy or a corruption of it, you have to look at what the articulators of the philosphy say

    More important than what the articulators say is what the “street” says. No, I don’t believe that R Elyashiv shlit’a et al have any untoward attitudes concerning BT’s. My overall experience is that there are always three groups of people you have to look at. I have rarely been disappointed by what I have heard directly from Gedolim themselves. (And when I have, the problem must be with me.) Then there are the people one rung down, the ones who interpret and transmit. Historically, they have frequently ranged from talmidim as faithful to the original as Yehoshua, to people who make used car salesmen look like paragons of virtue. The job of the average Joe citizen is to realize the limitations of those people, and not allow them to get in the way of discovering the truth.

    After them come the masses. Some of them get the message from the Gedolim quite well. Some of them really mess up. It can only be people in this latter group who are the problem, but it is not a small group.

  47. He Who Remembers says:

    Would someone “under thirty” (or over) explain the word “Harry” please?

    It still remains undefined here.

  48. Mark Frankel says:

    Rabbi Adlerstein, Thanks for your response although I found it quite disheartening.

    I do agree that BTs need a lot of guidance as they grow in their Yiddishkeit. But I would say the same holds true for FFBs. The high off-the-derech rate in the FFB world can certainly be partially attributed to lack of proper guidance. Guidance in Torah growth is a universal need. I’m assuming you think that most Jews should have a spiritual guide.

    Beyond that, BTs do have many needs that FFBs don’t and it would be great if more resources were allocated to that type of support.

    I’m not as quick to distinguish between GOOD Kiruv and BAD Kiruv, because it’s usually unproductive and often based on incorrect generalizations from specific cases.

    My biggest disappointment is that you seem to be sticking to your guns and refusing to see BTs as equals in your community in the thousands of situations where they deserve that acknowledgment and respect.

  49. yy says:

    “Guidance in Torah growth is a universal need”

    Mark’s point is powerfully sober. Assisting ALL our fellow Jews to find their chelek in Torah is a Divine imperative. We need to stop all this “realistic” pursuit of achievement stats which satisfy the big donors, even the chessed projects that give us a giant sense of a pat on the back for being so gracious to the lesser amongst us, and begin focusing on the actual Mitzvah. The movement of BT’s, by all accounts, poses a phemonal Mitzvah to our nation.

    Ahavas Yisroel, k’pshuto.

  50. Yitzchok Adlerstein says:

    No cause for being disheartened, Reb Mark. I happily support, embrace – and advocate for – accepting BT’s who have been frum for a considerable time “as equals in [my] community in the thousands of situations where they deserve that acknowledgment and respect.”

    I stuck to my guns only insofar as believing it to be appropriate to speak of melding two communities. New BT’s are a community apart, it least insofar as requiring the rest of us to be vigilant about their needs, and not lend them fend for themselves while they are still transitioning. I will continue to stick to that.

    If you wish to be disheartened, it will have to be over my complete rejection of your contention that we should not quickly and convincingly distinguish between good and bad kiruv. There is B”H lots of good and great kiruv; there are also patterns of bad and destructive kiruv. To cite one of several examples, the practice of many mekarvim in Israel to push newly frum people into marriage (as a way of sealing their commitment) yields disastrous consequences. I will not shy away from calling the practice indefensible.

    We don’t do anyone a favor by papering over real problems. There are more.

  51. Baruch Horowitz says:

    “The eekar, btw, is NOT that we must stop building the externals once the internal needs become obvious, but put in at least AS MUCH EFFORT in revamping the internal.”

    I agree that there is need for external fences(“gedarim”), the construction of which should be left to the leadership of each community to decide about. But what I meant by “internal”, is something I don’t always hear discussed as being important, namely, that the “human” dimension is also part of the internal(what I think of as “bein adam l’atzmo”).

    An educator or parent needs to instill or model a desire for yiras shomayim, which is “internal”, yet also needs to insure that a child will accept a part of himself, in order to grow up healthy and to function as a person; that is also “internal”. Similarly, while no one wants to “normalize” doubts or deviancy on a community or individual level, neither should a questioner feel ashamed if he is exercising a normal capacity of intelligence.

    The balancing of these conflicting, internal needs, and how they relate in chinuch are obviously issues for rabbonim, educators and frum professionals(I’m not reinventing the wheel). R. A. H. Fried, linked below, emphasizes that there is what to reject from secular culture(pg. 43), and likewise accepts as valid the insular chasidic communities. Yet he writes(pg. 46):

    “we need to recognize that some things simply cannot be fenced out. Some things are inherently us. To do so, we would have to fence ourselves out of where we are—a logical impossibility. Yet some attempt this”.

    http://www.hakirah.org/Vol%204%20Fried.pdf

  52. RD says:

    Re: comment #44 from “MiMedinat HaYam”, I just wanted to clear up a few misconceptions. Shalom Torah Center was not started “several years ago”, but 35 years ago, by two alumni of the Yeshiva located in that “certain community in central Jersey” (As an aside, I applaud MY for not mentioning that “certain community in central Jersey” by name; he/she probably clearly felt it might constitute “loshon hara” to explicitly refer to Princeton by name.) If by “protektzia” MY means that they were encouraged and actively supported by their Rosh Yeshiva (a beloved figure, btw, who I think even “MiMedinat HaYam” would have a hard time disparaging; but maybe I underestimate him/her), then he/she is correct. I never heard that it was controversial and don’t understand why it would be, but I have no doubt that MY understands the Haredi mindset much better than I do, so I must defer to him/her on this point. What I DO know, as does anyone who has spent time in that “certain community in central Jersey”, is that the assertion that “any decent bais yaakov graduate who wants to earn a (somewhat) decent living can go ‘out of town’ and teach at a shalom torah academy school (or one of their spawns” is downright laughable, as can tell you. Because they operate under a perpetual deficit (or so they claim; maybe MY knows better), they pay their teachers a a mere pittance — when they pay them at all, that is. People go to Shalom either because they are very dedicated or because they want to list them on their resume. I can’t say whether or not the adminstrator makes a “VERY good living from these schools”, since he never showed me his bank book. But while I strongly suspect that he never showed MY his bank book either, I will have to take his/her unsubstantiated word for it that he does, because this is a blog, and isn’t that how things work on blogs?

    One final point: MY’s comment that “that particular community shun’s BTs” would probably be news to the many baalei teshuvah who call “that particular community” home. But that’s what makes blogging so interesting — you learn new things every day!

  53. yy says:

    I’m with you 100%, R’ Baruch Horowitz. I hope to look at that link next week, iy”H. I’d also be pleased to discuss this topic with you a little more l’mmaseh. Perhaps we can ask the administrators to share each other’s email?

    Shaaabbos

  54. Mark Frankel says:

    I happily support, embrace – and advocate for – accepting BT’s who have been frum for a considerable time “as equals in [my] community in the thousands of situations where they deserve that acknowledgment and respect.”

    Rabbi Adlerstein, first of all, of course I agree with you that there is such a thing a Bad kiruv, my concern is that people can and do find negatives in *every* kiruv endeavor and we collectively broad brush all kiruv as bad, which is damaging.

    Atits heart good kiruv, like good chesed, is doing what is good and needed by the recipient. A typical 1-2 year BT has separated to a degree from his friends, his family and his old community. Every BT will tell you this is true to some extent. One of their deepest real needs is to be accepted as equals into a new community. The need for integration is probably the number one issue facing BTs.

    When you withhold your full embrace and acceptance of the BT because you fell you need to impose a “frum for a considerable time” limit, you are causing pain and damage to the BTs in your community at a time when they need you most.

    By all means give BTs all the extra support they need as you surely would do for FFBs with special needs, be they physical or spiritual. But I ask you from the depth of the collective pain caused by being treated as second class citizen, that you reconsider your exclusion of newer BTs from being full members of your community.

  55. Baruch Pelta says:

    In fact oe of its regular feature editors has said to me that as a selling point they seek to emphasize the blemishes of the chareidi world.
    Isn’t this lashon hara? Even if this is true, it probably has something to do with the fact that Mishpacha wants to improve the situations in the chareidi world, not just because they want to sell magazines.

  56. Bob Miller says:

    Regarding the comment by Yitzchok Adlerstein — July 24, 2008 @ 9:38 pm

    1. While “bad” kiruv has to be exposed as such, we also have the phenomenon of people turned off for whatever reason by “good” kiruv, who go on to trash their rejected former mentors in blogs. So we have to strive for as much objectivity as possible and be mindful that some war stories contain elements of falsehood or extrapolate the data into statements that are too general.

    2. Much effort has been put into fighting cults by putting out literature, etc., explaining the warning signs that a group is probably a cult. There are similar warning signs that a kiruv person or group is probably the destructive type. Information about these signs should be put together by responsible Orthodox educators and distributed as widely as possible. There is no need in this to name any offending groups or individuals; just give the potential Baalei Teshuva an objective consumer guide. Responsible people will heed the warning signs.

  57. Yehoshua Friedman says:

    Regarding the post by Jason Berg, he points out that kids of FFBs sometimes behave objectionably. I agree. That used to bother me a lot, too. Then I had a few kids (8) who are mostly grown up now. This seems to be a feature of kids, that they are not adults and they have to be educated. It’s because they are kids, period. Someone who became a BT as an adult and has not been through all the stages of raising kids might not realize that yet.
    The other point, about the definition of the elusive term “Harry”. Despite the call for someone under 30 to come forward with an acceptable and authentic definition, I suspect it won’t happen for two reasons. One is that the hareidi under-30 type who uses the term won’t touch the internet with a ten-foot pole or a six-foot Litvak. The second is that many of the hatchet-men likely to use such a term are so slipshod and inarticulate as to be unable to define anything in any language. The better products of a yeshiva education are busy learning gemora and presumably never use the term. Once again I am guessing because nobody has supplied hard information. But those of you who have family and friends with bochurim in “those” yeshivos, keep grilling them about the use of the term because it is close to zero probability that they will ever show up here themselves to tell us.

  58. Steve Brizel says:

    I would suggest that anyone read the letters that were published in response to this article in the following issue of the Jewish Voice and Opinion. The letters suggest that denial of this issue and revisionism, ,as opposed to history, as to who were the creators and/or main parties behind kiruv are quite rampant within the Charedi world. ( For yet another example in revisionism, this week’s Mishpacha included a letter to the effect that RSRH thought that TIDE was designed for Germany only, a claim that flies in the face of RSRH’s writings and a well documented meeting with R Yisrael Salanter in which RYS suggested that the Nineteen Letters be tranlated into the lingua franca of Eastern European Jewry).

    Contrary to at least one of the letter writers, both NCSY and NJOP are two prominent and very successful Kiruv movements that are hardly Charedi in orientation. Like it or not, while NCSY had the support of the Gdolim of the past generation, despite its coed events, the yeshiva world eschewed support and participation as advisors, as opposed to rabbinic faculty, until the 1970s. At that point, once Aish and Ohr Sameach were developing, Kiruv became kosher within the Charedi world, especially when RMF stated that it was a kiyum in maaser.

  59. Steve Brizel says:

    FWIW, I recall that R Y Wikler, who penned a letter in response to the subject article, was a faculty member at at least one of my earliest NCSY National Conventions and helped me at least think positively about attending yeshiva or YU.

  60. Belle says:

    According to my yeshivish 19 year old son, “Harry” would describe someone who isn’t yeshivish/cool, and who tries to be, but is out of it and does it wrong, like wearing a hat with the brim down with sneakers. Or buys a Stetson hat. The criteria seem to be mostly gashmius-dik. According to him, in these circles, the more yeshivish you are, the cooler you are. The word isn’t used a lot but he has heard it.

  61. Steve Brizel says:

    One more point-there are many NCSY alumni who are active on a national and communal level either in the Klei Kodesh, organizations such as the OU and local institutions. There are many NCSY alumni on the OU board.

  62. Raymond says:

    I obviously came into this discussion far too late for anybody to actually read what I am about to say, but who says anybody ever listens to me anyway? So I may as well express myself to, um, myself, and hope that even one more person besides me reads this.

    Two thoughts occurred to me while reading Rabbi Adlerstein’s article. One is, what is everybody complaining about? We here in America live in the greatest country on the face of the Earth. We Jews have it better here than anywhere, with only the possible exception of Israel. We have never had it so good in all of human history. Why look a gifthorse in the mouth?

    My other thought is more harsh than that, but I cannot figure out a way to say it in a softer way. So, I will just speak my mind, and let the chips fall where they may. The thing is, just how relevant are the most pious and insular among us, not only in making this world a better place, but in publicizing the moral ideals of Judaism itself?

    Think of a Rabbi today who is deeply revered by the world-wide, ultra-Orthodox community. I hesitate to name anybody specifically, so let’s just call him Rabbi E or perhaps Rabbi T. Then compare him to a Rabbi who may not be seen as holy and other-worldly, but is sure known in the mainstream media, yet still respected in the religious Jewish community as having not compromised their Jewish values. I am thinking here, among others, of such Rabbis as Jonathan Sacks, Joseph Telushkin, and Shmuel Boteach. All three of these Rabbis promote straight, traditional, Orthodox Judaism, but they do it in such a way that their teachings reach the entire world, not just a narrow group of super-religious Jews.

    It is my contention that such Rabbis make a FAR bigger impact on spreading Judaism than does Rabbi E and others like him. Just the fact that Israel itself, is at the geographical center of three huge continents should speak volumes for our role in the world: We are meant to be center stage, not cloistered in some Jewish version of a monastery.

  63. FFB still a BA hoping to be a BT even before Elul says:

    Dear Yehoshua Friedman, the definition of the term “Harry”, is really not so elusive, here are 2 for consideration:
    1. a guy who takes his artscroll gemorah with him to the ball game so he can finish the daf during half time or
    2. a person who believes that the Rosh Yeshiva of Torah Ohr or Aish is ‘the’ Godol Hador rather than ‘one of the Gedolie Hador’

    Actually in the Flatbush world it refers to any ben torah who may be ‘yeshivish’ but not necesarily ‘heimish’ Now, the term Heimish referes to those who not only know what schmaltz, gribenes & p’tcha are but actully enjoy indulging in them. Or as my wife puts it, Harry’s had birthday parties and got Chanuka presents, none Hary’s got Chanuka gelt and were told, ‘you got new pajamas this year? that was your birthday present!’

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