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New York - Ba’alei Teshuva Turned Off By “frum” People Engaging in Corrupt Behavior

Published on: July 15, 2009 07:09 PM
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New York - We got on board because we were striving for truth, and guess what? We’re still striving! So please, make sure your seat belts stay fastened because we’re sitting beside you now, and we hope to take you right along with us!

It was the most idealistic and dedicated who helped make us the people we have become. After deciding to be observant, however, we all inevitably realized that many frum people were not quite as purely committed as those who had initially inspired us. Varying degrees of disappointment and disillusionment are standard, but what happens after that is critical.

Witnessing “frum” people engage in corrupt behavior can be a deal-breaker for some, especially if the frum-appearing people wield authority in leadership positions. Unsavory business practices, the belittling of legitimate attempts at improvement, and “accepted” practices to cheat government agencies, can all lead to an earnest ba’al teshuva (returnee to observant Judaism) being understandably turned off.

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There are prevailing fears related to “change” in Orthodox spheres, for justifiable reasons, but these same fears also prevent essential progress from taking place.

It can be difficult for the voice of a quiet ba’al teshuva with a well-honed refinement to be heard when an arrogant insensitivity prevails. When children in public school seem to have more derech eretz (respect) than those in many day schools, a need for reevaluation is indicated. Worries about reporting “frum” perpetrators who are dangerous to children are another example of how our fears have led to unnecessarily increased problems with disastrous consequences.

Following a shocking experience like being intimidated after making sincere abuse allegations, there may be no viable way to keep the victims or the parents of the victims from leaving the frum community. But the resilience of the neshama (soul) is truly miraculous, and even some of these extraordinarily determined survivors have managed to stick with their frum communities, to work toward significant change.

Baalei teshuva are often especially discerning. After all, we have taken the best from our backgrounds, then sought to incorporate that into the best way of life we’ve ever found. So we are discerning about what’s wrong with the standard frum lifestyle as well, and see no useful reason to ignore significant problems, whitewash, or cover them up.

Baalei teshuva often are used to politeness and friendliness from our previous incarnations. Exemplary friendliness, like greeting newcomers to shul, seems unfortunately to take a back seat in many frum communities. After moving beyond the warm welcome of initial kiruv experiences, a ba’al teshuva may often be stunned by a lack of welcoming encounters thereafter. He may soon end up becoming acclimated to this less-than-sunny style or, hopefully, he may admirably try to upgrade the status quo with an infusion of his own warm ways, if they don’t become overly stifled.

There are many examples of how baalei teshuva, in a steadfast resolve for truth, have already affected frum communities. The demand for upgraded special ed services, more professional therapeutic standards, and even healthier eating patterns have been indefatigably and successfully advocated for by baalei teshuva previously schooled in ways that could substantially benefit the frum lifestyle. “Why acquiesce to children getting junk food and sodas as prizes in school?” baalei teshuva may, not surprisingly, ask. It is not at all easy to ruffle feathers and confront authorities that have become entrenched in some outmoded and harmful habits, but baalei teshuva are often now leading the way, thank G-d.

I guess it all comes down to this: there are some inappropriate behaviors in our frum communities that baalei teshuva may not tolerate as complacently as others, and we are more willing than most to take the initiative to work on constructive change. Whether it’s lax attitudes about yeshiva students smoking, a lack of outrage about perpetrators of abuse, or even just a general lack of ready smiles, we are the ones, more and more, gaining the confidence (and knowledge from the complex “Pilot’s Manual”) to get up there on our soapboxes, and work to clean up some acts.

The vast majority of us are sticking around, and when we come face to face with problems that need work, we don’t have to pretend all is fine and dandy, just as we couldn’t pretend that in our past lifestyles either. We’re sticking around because we’re family now, and when members of our family need help, we feel more committed to them than ever. We are here because we want to help make this extraordinarily worthwhile way of life even healthier, even happier and even more responsible.

We want to thank you for every single difficult effort you have ever made to preserve what’s most meaningful. Thanks to all you did, we were able to transform our lives and regain our heritage. We hope you can see that providing refreshing outlooks, generating renewed enthusiasm, and promoting increased accountability are some of the ways we have to give back to you. This striving for truth is certainly challenging, but that’s just what we have always been deeply yearning for — and we’ve never stopped. So keep those seat belts fastened — tightly. We want to keep soaring, G-d willing. May we have a long and exhilarating journey together.

Bracha Goetz is the Harvard-educated author of ten children’s books, including Aliza in MitzvahLand, What Do You See at Home? and The Invisible Book. To enjoy Bracha’s presentations, you’re welcome to email bgoetzster@gmail.com.



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1

 Jul 15, 2009 at 06:20 PM Anonymous Says:

bunch of crap

2

 Jul 15, 2009 at 06:20 PM FFB from NY Says:

Wonderful article and long overdue. There is just one misconception here- I think that most frum people have the same opinions as the Baalei Teshuvah regarding corruption, special needs and eating healthy etc. There are Judy those few bad apples from our community that are always making the headlines, giving a different immpression on who we really are.

3

 Jul 15, 2009 at 06:29 PM Anonymous Says:

Not only baalei teshuva! Frum people are ALSO being turned off!!!

4

 Jul 15, 2009 at 06:28 PM Lebediger Says:

we have to think of god before we d a aveira not of a baal tshuva

5

 Jul 15, 2009 at 06:54 PM favorite anonymous Says:

The other day I was discussing with an "FFB" (as I am a "BT") some despicable behaviors that are acceptable, or appear to be acceptable in the frum community. The FFB was shocked and mortified that as a BT, I was witness to some disgusting things by "yeshivish" people - (how can an FFB make such a hillul hashem in front of a BT). It appears as though she thought I am frum for people and not for G-d. I fail to understand why she expected me to go "off" just because I saw inappropriate and distasteful things, but she would never expect a FFB to go "off"...

6

 Jul 15, 2009 at 06:53 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #4  
Lebediger Says:

we have to think of god before we d a aveira not of a baal tshuva

Wrong. Thinking about Hashem MEANS worrying that "yehi shem shamayim misaheves al yadecha." If we alienate pple from Hashem, we have done the utmost to alienate ourselves from Hashem as well.

7

 Jul 15, 2009 at 06:53 PM Anonymous Says:

Just wondering, which public school has students that have more derech eretz than Jewish day schools?

The Jweish star always has articles that counter traditional jewish values and this is a new low.

8

 Jul 15, 2009 at 06:51 PM Anonymous Says:

I totally agree with the main points this article, even if some of her argument gets a bit side-tracked. I have also seen a tangential effect of what is described, with a number of BTs try to emulate FFBs and and in doing so mimic the perceived need to be 'unfriendly' in shul - of attempting to be frummer than frum. I also anticipate many of the same responses as that of #1 and #4. Ahavas yisrael is not just a convenient platitude.

9

 Jul 15, 2009 at 06:50 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #4  
Lebediger Says:

we have to think of god before we d a aveira not of a baal tshuva

Chilul Hashem, don't be a tzadik

10

 Jul 15, 2009 at 06:43 PM Halaivy Says:

Next time don't oversell yourself.
The frum community are human just like anyone else, it's just their principles that help them remain better. That dosen't mean that everyone sticks to 100% of the principles.

11

 Jul 15, 2009 at 06:38 PM Anonymous Says:

Because many BT's have an idealized sense of Jewish morality, they can often be shocked by poor, hypocritical and corrupt behavior in the religious community.
Unfortunately, many of those negative behaviors occur all too often, but not necessarily because people are observant but rather because of bad habits developed in the shtetle.
I remember an old Rabbi in Albany once telling me that in old Russia whenever there was a murder, the Czars police went to the gentile villages to find the perpetrator. If there was money stolen, they searched the Jewish villages.
All the bad behaviors discussed in the above article can be seen in all unassimilated Jews despite their level of observance.
Basically , its an Old country thing , not a religious thing.

12

 Jul 15, 2009 at 06:35 PM esther Says:

Reply to #1  
Anonymous Says:

bunch of crap

i'm sorry for you if you truly can not understand the negative impact of chilul Hashem-it's always easier to pretend there's no problem to begin with.

13

 Jul 15, 2009 at 06:35 PM Moshe Says:

There are bad apples everywhere; the only difference is, that our bad apples don’t do drugs (for the most part) or rape or murder.

14

 Jul 15, 2009 at 06:34 PM anonymous Says:

Al tiskakel b'kankan ale ma yeshe bo. Yes the peyes, gartel and strajmel don't guarantee an erlichen Yid

15

 Jul 15, 2009 at 06:32 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #4  
Lebediger Says:

we have to think of god before we d a aveira not of a baal tshuva

That's not the concept of chilul Hashem

16

 Jul 15, 2009 at 07:16 PM Anonymous Says:

Yeah Yeah Yeah all we hear is how frum people cheat the govt and frum rebaeim are all molesters and frum teenagers are all drug addicts and all at risk etc..... all we hear is how bad frum people are, but let me tell you the truth the frummer they are the better they are in midos and everything else, look at all the chessed organizations that yes the frum all started. I can gaurantee you that most frum people have a more honest tax returns than the less frum. and its a fact. of course we have a tiny minority of black sheep but the big majority of the frum people are honest ehrlicher law abiding citizens who will do anything and everything to help fellow men. and enough of the frum bashing articles by even the so called askonim.

17

 Jul 15, 2009 at 07:15 PM Anonymous Says:

Certainly there is room for improvement in everyone's behavior but to compare frum yidden to the secular world and call that world more civilized is ridiculous and chutzpa. I have been a full time kiruv worker for the last 15 years and can say that the lack of values or decency in secular society is what drives people to tshuva more than anything. This article comes, most likely from an insecurity about her position in the frum community and that is unfortunate.

18

 Jul 15, 2009 at 07:12 PM e. grossmann Says:

I agree that BT may have an idealised representation of chareidi society that is bound to be disappointed.

But the reality is that the chareidi world likes to entertain this idealised image of itself. Take this newsspot. Look what comments are published, which are not, how the articles are phrased, how facts are presented....

Look at the reactions when it turns out a chareidi is a criminal: either he is the innocent victim of an evil plot (see the latest riots) or the crime he did is not that bad (he defrauded poor people? That's oshek, not geneiva, and oshek against a goi is permitted)...

19

 Jul 15, 2009 at 07:07 PM r u serious Says:

Finally. I work in kiruv. All the money in the world can't undo the damage that has been done in the past years. Notice to all those who work with non frum people- please just be a mench! I spend so much time just doing damage control!!

20

 Jul 15, 2009 at 07:06 PM Dave Says:

Reply to #13  
Moshe Says:

There are bad apples everywhere; the only difference is, that our bad apples don’t do drugs (for the most part) or rape or murder.

But they are given honors and aliyot as long as they spread some of the wealth around to communal institutions?

21

 Jul 15, 2009 at 07:27 PM Anonymous Says:

I would love this well educated and thought out woman to show me one school in the civilized goyish world the size of Lakewood or Mir that doesnt have massive security, drug and crime issues. How many of our yeshivos have had columbine massacres? What civilized wealthy community has communal charity organizations comperable to the poorest yiddishe community? They dont give their kids soda, they give them mind numbing TV, movies, video games etc. I could go on but is there a point?

22

 Jul 15, 2009 at 07:37 PM NY FFB Says:

She's right, of course, but, as a previous commenter said, the same goes for FFB's too. There are sincere ones who can be turned off as well.

I actually think she was too tentative and guarded in what she wrote. She was too nice to the crooks and lowlifes among us. They deserve much stronger treatment.

23

 Jul 15, 2009 at 07:55 PM Halaivy Says:

Which gedolim have ever endorsed the kiruv movement???? it must be the ones that permited mrs. Goetz to educate in Harvard.
Get it straight Mrs. Goetz DAAS BAL HABAIS HEPECH MIDAAS TORAH.

24

 Jul 15, 2009 at 07:53 PM EMES Says:

there is something called the gadlus of klal yisroel i have heard many shmoozin on this take twp min to look at how good we are then rewrite the article thank you

25

 Jul 15, 2009 at 07:57 PM Anonymous Says:

Big deal I'm FFB and I'm turned off from the BTs that don't want to accept the derech of our heimeshe rebbes that taught us that abisel krume shtick to support their mosdos is good

26

 Jul 15, 2009 at 07:34 PM AuthenticSatmar Says:

And why does Vinnews give such self righteous better than you attitudes a forum to exploit their messed up opinion?

We all know that most frum people do set a good example, and as a community we hve a lot to be proud of. Why just today, a former billionaire - shomer torah umitzvos - used his own funds to fund employee pensons that were swindled by Madoff. It was a frum carpet mfr that continued to pay payroll when his plant burned. There are many more such stories. Anyone choosing to focus on those in the negative have deeper issues and should not be given such an open forum.

27

 Jul 15, 2009 at 08:19 PM yitzchok Says:

ATTENTION EVERY ONE!!!!!
#1 baaley tshuve according to my understanding means, that they were doing all aveirus (sins) in the past, but for some reason they got an hirer tshuvah and that's why they are doing teshuva now.
So who cares about the frum people, you do what is right to do!.
#2 the word frum has a lot of meanings, so 1 wrong or 100 wrongs dosent make anything rite

28

 Jul 15, 2009 at 08:14 PM Anonymous Says:

I'd like 2 remind all the bt's that mesirah is a much bigger aveirah than cheating the goverment of taxes that they cheat us! So just watch the direction u r taking, how about if u bt's look a little better on out goodside have u seen in the secular community anything close to the chesed, charity, bikur cholim, gemachs, org, and all the other mitzvos we do? Or iu r onlý focused of some ppl trying to save their hard earned paycheck from the theivs called: goverment? Think about it!!!

29

 Jul 15, 2009 at 08:05 PM Anonymous Says:

To get turned of when seeing how frum people behave does not make sense for an adult(yes for children and teen agers) Is one frum because of the people around him or because he loves the Torah and Hashem?
Secondly, a BT expects more from the frum person because she made extreme changes in her own life for the better she most probably can't understand how a ffb can't also strive to be on a higher spiritual level. For that I don't blame her.
Then again, the crooks overshadow the erlicheh yidden, Yes there are alot alot of feineh, erlicheh, mesiras nefeshdikeh yidden that do alot of chesed etc...To remain a frumer yid after the holocaust, deserves high honors.

30

 Jul 15, 2009 at 08:02 PM r u serious Says:

Reply to #21  
Anonymous Says:

I would love this well educated and thought out woman to show me one school in the civilized goyish world the size of Lakewood or Mir that doesnt have massive security, drug and crime issues. How many of our yeshivos have had columbine massacres? What civilized wealthy community has communal charity organizations comperable to the poorest yiddishe community? They dont give their kids soda, they give them mind numbing TV, movies, video games etc. I could go on but is there a point?

Sorry big difference. They don't claim to be fullfilling the will of Hashem.
Wearing a yamulka says I am a holy person. Stealing , being mean and worse is hypocritical. How can we ask people to join our community when we have evil amongst us and we are silent because they are rich. How religious is that.

31

 Jul 15, 2009 at 08:01 PM Anonymous Says:

The fact remains that since the inception of time the jewish people have been held to a higher standard and rightfully so, because of our morals and way of life.
If you think about what a bal teshuva gives up to come back to hashem it is incredible. Now, when they look at the FFB, they too are expecting perfection which is understandable but unrealistic. I think that as FFB's we must be cognizant of the fact that we are constantely being watched by Hashem as well as BT's and gentiles and try and act appropiately.

32

 Jul 15, 2009 at 08:27 PM Baruch Says:

I am going to be harsh without even knowing the person I am about to criticize because she is far more harsh in tarring hundreds of thousands of innocent Jews when actually her aim is a small minority: The author, with her "them and us" perspective, has already started off on the wrong foot. Her patronizing tone is both unjustified and hence insulting and her reliance on anecdote and sweeping generalization betrays an arrogance and dooms any possibility of her message achieving currency where it is needed. Positing the false assumption that the affectations of gentility and knowledge equal true refinement is indicative of a shallow perspective and a total ignorance of history and the human condition. Unlike the insipid and saccharine world-view that predominates in contemporary "frum literature", the ills of this world, for obvious reasons, resist any facile attempt at definition and solution.

33

 Jul 15, 2009 at 08:27 PM Anonymous Says:

Chillul Hashem is wrong regardless of who's watching it happen. That being said, many balei tshuva (aren't we all, if not we should be) do tend to look at our community with a bad eye. Perhaps they still have a long way to go in their middos tovos.
Keeping mitzvohs bein adom LMakom is easy compared to improving your middos.
Looking at your fellow Jew with a good eye is extremely appreciated by Hashem.
So next time you notice a Jew doing an aveira, just remember he's a human being with flaws just like you. Just as you wouldn't want your flaws to define you, so you shouldn't define your fellow Jew by his flaws.

34

 Jul 15, 2009 at 09:24 PM Meir Says:

A thief is a thief with or without tzizis and no gadol can maatir what is assur min hatorah Ends do not justify the means.

35

 Jul 15, 2009 at 09:18 PM Dov Says:

Reply to #23  
Halaivy Says:

Which gedolim have ever endorsed the kiruv movement???? it must be the ones that permited mrs. Goetz to educate in Harvard.
Get it straight Mrs. Goetz DAAS BAL HABAIS HEPECH MIDAAS TORAH.

R' Akiva and the gemara both emphasize baalai teshuva -that's who

36

 Jul 15, 2009 at 09:15 PM shlomofrid Says:

From a BT:
the only reason to become religious is because the Tora is true. Human beings are just that, and sometimes we fail. Even Moishe Rabeinu failed!. Just read how the Rambam explains the 'mei hameriva'.

37

 Jul 15, 2009 at 09:06 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #3  
Anonymous Says:

Not only baalei teshuva! Frum people are ALSO being turned off!!!

I can"t agree more with your short but to the point comment. Yes many of us FRUM people are also getting turned off.

38

 Jul 15, 2009 at 09:04 PM Tochacha Says:

Tochacha from a BT:
1) Don't talk so much in Shul;
2) Have good manners. It's not proper to be rude;
3) Be honest in business;
4) Stop the strife within chassidic courts, including shameful physical confrontations.

39

 Jul 15, 2009 at 09:04 PM Anonymous Says:

The defensiveness and harsh tone in many of the responses to this article are entirely unwarranted. To say that there is room for improvement in our behavior and habits should not evoke such paranoia. To cite just one example: We should applaud and follow the author's suggestion that our Yiddishe kinderlach be fed and rewarded with nutritious snacks, and not junk food. All the more so must we protect them (and all the rest of us, too) from the corrupt behaviors she enumerates, which destroy souls, not just bodies.
"Kol haposeil, b'mumo poseil." The commenters who accuse the writer of harshly misjudging others are themselves misjudging her constructive comments.

40

 Jul 15, 2009 at 09:02 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #21  
Anonymous Says:

I would love this well educated and thought out woman to show me one school in the civilized goyish world the size of Lakewood or Mir that doesnt have massive security, drug and crime issues. How many of our yeshivos have had columbine massacres? What civilized wealthy community has communal charity organizations comperable to the poorest yiddishe community? They dont give their kids soda, they give them mind numbing TV, movies, video games etc. I could go on but is there a point?

How much longer are we going to continue to lie to ourselves about all the supposed problems of the goyishe world in some desperate, defensive attempt to justify our existence?

Here's the newsflash: the secular world is filled with wonderful, kind, charitable decent people who help their fellow men and women everyday. There is no "drug scourge" in the middle and upper middle class communities that compare to ours. Surburban state schools are very good and consistently churn out decent, smart, educated, polite, kind and well-rounded kids. Most people who watch TV aren't reduced to gelatinous, porn addicted fools but lead competent, effective lives often filled with chesed and generosity.

We need to grow up -- and justify our Daas Torah on its own terms and merits, and not continue to lose credibility and believability by touting ourselves as superior to everyone else. As this BT says, let our actions make that point if we believe it to be true.

41

 Jul 15, 2009 at 08:54 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #17  
Anonymous Says:

Certainly there is room for improvement in everyone's behavior but to compare frum yidden to the secular world and call that world more civilized is ridiculous and chutzpa. I have been a full time kiruv worker for the last 15 years and can say that the lack of values or decency in secular society is what drives people to tshuva more than anything. This article comes, most likely from an insecurity about her position in the frum community and that is unfortunate.

You have made a valid point. What drives people to become BT's is not love of the frum, but rather hatred of the secular.

42

 Jul 15, 2009 at 08:51 PM Anonymous Says:

First they were turned on by the sinners now they are turned off by the frum what's their next step??

43

 Jul 15, 2009 at 08:50 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #24  
EMES Says:

there is something called the gadlus of klal yisroel i have heard many shmoozin on this take twp min to look at how good we are then rewrite the article thank you

You moron, part of EMES is getting to the truth, even if it means ripping out the bad. It is a painful, but necessary process.

44

 Jul 15, 2009 at 08:47 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #16  
Anonymous Says:

Yeah Yeah Yeah all we hear is how frum people cheat the govt and frum rebaeim are all molesters and frum teenagers are all drug addicts and all at risk etc..... all we hear is how bad frum people are, but let me tell you the truth the frummer they are the better they are in midos and everything else, look at all the chessed organizations that yes the frum all started. I can gaurantee you that most frum people have a more honest tax returns than the less frum. and its a fact. of course we have a tiny minority of black sheep but the big majority of the frum people are honest ehrlicher law abiding citizens who will do anything and everything to help fellow men. and enough of the frum bashing articles by even the so called askonim.

It is so typical of a FFB to totally MISS the whole point of the article. It is patently NOT TRUE that the higher you climb in yiddishkeit, the better the midos become. This is the whole gist of the article, that in places like Boro & Willi, the behavior of the denizens is OFFENSIVE to the average baal teshuva. Where do I start? Offensive staring, offensive ostentatiousness, the bungalow madness, general unfriendliness, rude style of speaking, offensive back-turning, treating dinner guests like dirt, ruining the whole concept of hospitality (Hungarian FFB's have effectively destroyed the mitzva of hachnassas orchim by libeling all guests as "nebbechs"), offensively rude and bad driving habits, excessive pan-handling, excessive money-laundering, excessive welfare fraud, ignoring guests at a simcha/only speaking to people you know, total failure to return phone calls, WASP-style snobbishness, offensive chumros, line-cutting, always talking over someone else, always negating another person's point (always thinking you are right), insulting strangers in public to shame them and prove your "righteousness", looking down on anyone who is not "Hungarian" or "Heimische", this concept of thinking you are "above the law" because you're a Yid, etc.etc.etc.

I have lived in BP for a decade and I have seen a side of Yiddishkeit that I am positive my ancestors DID NOT practice in Europe. This does not mean that there aren't wonderful people, there are, but the behavior of the ultra-frum is a turn off, and the writer of this article is making a valid point, albeit to people so set in their ways and utterly convinced of their righteousness that they are most probably incapable of making the progress Ms. Goetz aspires to in her article.
My advice to other BT? Don't lose all your secular friends.

45

 Jul 15, 2009 at 08:39 PM Anonymous Says:

Have any of you posters who've lambasted BT's for being disillusioned , bothered to consider the discrimination they face in the frum community? How many families, yeshivos, potential shidduchim are denied to BTs and their children because of who they were? You try living that life, becoming frum and dealing with such attitudes, and see how long you last!

46

 Jul 15, 2009 at 08:36 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #7  
Anonymous Says:

Just wondering, which public school has students that have more derech eretz than Jewish day schools?

The Jweish star always has articles that counter traditional jewish values and this is a new low.

I became frum in the middle of my high school years. I had been in public school, in the honors classes.

When I transferred to a yeshiva high school, I was also shocked and mortified at the low level of derech eretz. It was, sadly, far far worse in many ways than public school.

47

 Jul 15, 2009 at 08:35 PM Anonymous Says:

These frum people have the same yetser horah as these balei tshuvas had to sin. please don't judge an entire community on both sides for the actions of a few.

48

 Jul 15, 2009 at 10:33 PM Anonymous Says:

Do I see "We hope you can see that providing refreshing outlooks, generating renewed enthusiasm, and promoting increased accountability are some of the ways we have to give back to you" THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK, PLEASE STOP GIVING BACK TO YIDISHKEIT ! We have great Tanuim, Amoiruim,Geoinim, VCHILI for that. Now I truly understand the Gemure BMUKEM SHBALEI TESHUVE OIMDIM........how can one sit with such crap in one room? Balei Teshuve have a CHIP on their shoulder and it can't be removed. OH ALMIGHTY, Please give us some SINNER'S...........Enough with the Balei Teshuve's.

49

 Jul 15, 2009 at 10:25 PM FFB Says:

They are looking for excuses. You cannot judge people by their looks. We have yetzer horas too! Maybe the BTs dont or they look at things differently since they became frum but its a whole 'nother story.

50

 Jul 15, 2009 at 10:25 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #4  
Lebediger Says:

we have to think of god before we d a aveira not of a baal tshuva

In many cases people aren't on that level. So if thinking about something that is more material prevents you from doing avieros, you use that to your advantage. On a side not(I may be wrong), it seems like you have something against Balai T'shva. Where all the same, man. It's just a matter of degrees.

51

 Jul 15, 2009 at 10:55 PM igor, not a BT Says:

I am not a BT (hate this termin) but a frim gevorner :)
A BT is a huge madreiga, which I doubt 85% of BT will ever reach.
#36-A+!!!

People see averos only from others...
However, since a so called BT knows good and well the smell of garbadge, he is more sensetive. Its a fact!
Nobody is perfect

52

 Jul 15, 2009 at 10:45 PM misterzee Says:

Turned off?how shallow and immature.One must do what is right and a baal teshuva realizes that the will of god does not change based on what others do.That is a cheap excuse and wil not help in the world to come.I am a FFB and hopefully also BT,we do daven 3x daily to do teshuva.People leaving superficial,gashmiyuth enveloped lives are no reason to be turned off
Example-how many people are aware that pursuing ta'avah like gorging at a chasunah or resturant will land you in gehinom?The smag one of the major rishonim explains that after doing all the mitzvoth and refraining from aiveroth,it all comes down to how one related to olam hazeh,did he use it as a vessel to olam haba or did he use it as a means to anend,to amass wealth power and enjoyment.True introspecting will reveal the answer for those seeking truth.But that requires major changes in hashkafa and in living standards.Getting ahead in life,is getting behind in lifeGiving to tzedakah,with its great zechuth is not enough.We most become more spiritual and focus on that.Those are the people who should turn us on,not FFB whom are barking up the wrong tree

53

 Jul 15, 2009 at 10:44 PM seicheldig Says:

B/S I once heard Rabbi Asher wayde(ger tzedek) speak and he said that on the first simchas torah he went to shul there were fist fighting over non-sense and when asked how come he wasn't turned off by that behavier? These were his words "I don't judge Hashem by his people, I judge Hashem by his Torah" of course good deeds and good people make it to news.

54

 Jul 15, 2009 at 10:39 PM blony Says:

Its a piece of blony he has a big yatzer horah.and he trys to blaim it on chariede I also have a yeitzer hora and evrey time I do something rong I think of about 1000 reasons why I did it

55

 Jul 15, 2009 at 09:58 PM Dave Says:

Reply to #47  
Anonymous Says:

These frum people have the same yetser horah as these balei tshuvas had to sin. please don't judge an entire community on both sides for the actions of a few.

It is not appropriate to judge a community for the actions of a few.

It IS appropriate to judge a community for how it responds to those actions.

Given the strong willingness of the frum community to use social pressures against behaviors they disapprove of (whether they are merely "pas nisht" or considered outright forbidden), the lack of such responses to financial crimes (including tax evasion, welfare/benefits fraud, smuggling, and other such crimes) is very telling.

And when those who have committed those crimes are honored (so long as they made appropriate donations to the communal institutions), then it is very appropriate to judge the community based on those actions.

56

 Jul 15, 2009 at 09:48 PM Sarah Says:

Reply to #5  
favorite anonymous Says:

The other day I was discussing with an "FFB" (as I am a "BT") some despicable behaviors that are acceptable, or appear to be acceptable in the frum community. The FFB was shocked and mortified that as a BT, I was witness to some disgusting things by "yeshivish" people - (how can an FFB make such a hillul hashem in front of a BT). It appears as though she thought I am frum for people and not for G-d. I fail to understand why she expected me to go "off" just because I saw inappropriate and distasteful things, but she would never expect a FFB to go "off"...

As a BT too, I understand where you're coming from. :) Your friend's perspective makes sense when we're talking about just-starting BTs who maybe haven't solidly decided yet whether they really want to be frum, and could easily just turn around to their old life....it's dangerous for people like this to be turned off so early on since they are very prone to changing their mind. Maybe this was her experience/perception of BTs and she didn't want this to happen to you...?
In any case, though, I know and you know that we are frum only for Hashem, and we're NOT going to go off, and if anyone actually thinks that ALL BTs are insecure in their Yiddishkeit then they really need to meet more of us.

57

 Jul 15, 2009 at 09:47 PM Elliot Pasik Says:

This is a balanced, sensitive article, and I happen to share the sentiments. As a working lawyer, I will testify there is much derech eretz in the secular world, in both Jewish and general circles. I tend to be an optimist, and I see the world changing for the better. Meanwhile, some of us in the frum world are sliding backwards. Tochechah is a mitzvah. We frum Jews are witness to grotesque aveiros never thought possible. Silence is not the answer. Hashem demands much more. I understand the need for some to remain anonymous, but can't you at least be polite? Intended or not, you're proving the point of the article.

If you're not too busy, check out our web site: www.jewishadvocates.org.

58

 Jul 15, 2009 at 11:20 PM matzahlocal101 Says:

Reply to #14  
anonymous Says:

Al tiskakel b'kankan ale ma yeshe bo. Yes the peyes, gartel and strajmel don't guarantee an erlichen Yid

Neither does the Yeshiva University endowed chair in medical ethics guarantee ethical behavior.

59

 Jul 16, 2009 at 07:09 AM Izzy Says:

Look, as a baal teshuvah myself (still struggling after 34 years), I still find it difficult sometimes when, in shul, during laining or chozores hashatz, people are talking. It is not just the guys in the back, but well respected members.

When my children when to the schools, the "angels" I sent came back with harsh words (like "dummy") that had never been used at home.

I seem to be one of the only ones who *doesn't* lie on my tuition reduction form. Now that my children are out of grade school and into Yeshivas it doesn't bother me so much, but, I was told to "make up numbers", since "the tuition committee expects everyone to lie some".

I am still appalled by the overt (let alone the covert) racism that many in the frum community have.

I could go on, but think about this: Most of us became baalei teshuvah because of a searching for meaning. It is difficult for anyone (FFB or BT) who is sincere in their search for meaning and Hashem to see bad behavior among those who should be providing an example through speech and action.


60

 Jul 16, 2009 at 07:08 AM Anonymous Says:

Well let's put it this way there are no Drugs and no Weapons by the frum oilam of course you will say that Hoishiu as Drugs but the truth is there is no and by the Freie there are all of this stuff

61

 Jul 16, 2009 at 07:06 AM anonymous Says:

Reply to #58  
matzahlocal101 Says:

Neither does the Yeshiva University endowed chair in medical ethics guarantee ethical behavior.

I did not attend medical although worked in the medical field and attended college. I had a father and mother A'H erlichen Yidden, I was brought among hasidim and lived through 4 years of concentrtion camp. An erlicher Yid is the best person to befriend and deal with

62

 Jul 16, 2009 at 06:41 AM Five Towns Resident Says:

This needed to be said. If BT's are being impacted negatively, imagine the Chululei Hashem that are being committed by frum Jews who engage in criminal behavior, such as tax fraud. By being money-corrupt, these crooks are playing right into the Gentile stereotype of the Jews as underhanded and money-hungry.

63

 Jul 16, 2009 at 07:51 AM Avreichman Says:

Whoever goes looking for problems is going to find them. Hashem sends them to you to find out--well--who you are.

This article reminds me of the story about the couple visiting the Louvre who told their guide after the three-hour tour that, really, they were not so impressed. He told them, 'Oh, you think that when you visit the Louvre, it is the Louvre that is being judged? Oh no! It is you who are being judged!'

Look for the good in all Jews and you'll find it. And that will make you a better person...

64

 Jul 16, 2009 at 02:59 AM Josh E. Says:

Interesting comments all around.Let's remember that nobody is perfect and we are all "striving" to be better.R' Moshe Chaim Luzzato did not write mesilas yesharim for anyone other than bnei torah.Why should it shock anyone that yidden,and specifically,frum yidden, deal with the nisyonos of gayvah ,tayva, and kovod and all of the challenges they bring. KEE ZEH KOL HAADAM.
This also explains,perhaps ,the way we tiptoe around other people's misdeeds,even public ones.At the same time that we abhor their actions,we understand the underlying struggles that they are facing ...that we all are facing in different areas of our lives.How and where to draw the lines of whether public comment is warranted and needed requires a unique perspective ...a daas Torah.Sometimes the answer is to make a public outcry and sometimes it is better to say nothing,while still understanding that what was done was unacceptable.
Ahavas chinam goes along way in helping us in these matters.May we all have much hatzlocho!!

65

 Jul 16, 2009 at 08:37 AM Avraham Avinu Says:

I am bit confused: how is it understandable that "unsavory business practices, and the belittling of legitimate attempts at improvement, and “accepted” practices to cheat government agencies, all lead to an earnest ba’al teshuva (returnee to observant Judaism) being turned off"? I became frum even though my father Terach was Ovaid Avoda Zorah. My son Yitschak remained Frum even though his older (half) brother Yishmael enacted unsavory business practices, and belittliled his legitimate attempts at improving himself. My grandson Yaakov remained frum even though his twin brother Aisuv was raping women and “accepted” the practice of cheating government agencies.

For centries; many of my great-grandchildren remained frum in the face of corrupt behavior i.e. the maskilim, tsidukim etc....

For good or for bad - we are a nation of amkishai oref. And yes, the resilience of the neshama (soul) is truly remarkable and miraculous.

66

 Jul 16, 2009 at 08:35 AM Anonymous Says:

This is exactly the reason Baal T'shuvas are not very accepted in our circles.
Why did they leave their goyishe world? Obviously they were not tzfridden with that way of life.
The reason you might see a story in the news against frumma yidden, is only because the case it is out of the ordinary.... and also because of antisemitism to show that the jews are not so perfect as the world thinks of them.
If you read the news about the goyishe world, there are so much bad going on that even the goyim are not happy. Look at the schools, even in the suburbs, where the bessera goyim live. All full of drugs, rape, and even murders of teachers. There is absolutely no derech eretz in the goyishe schools. the teachers fear for their lives.

Where do we have ANY of this in our schools and cheder??? The goyim do not even believe when you tell them that drugs are ZILCH in our schools. And no violence etc. etc.

67

 Jul 16, 2009 at 08:43 AM A Frum Jew Says:

Dear BT,

Did you subscribe to a religion or to people? Yidishlkeit is a religieon that has a torah and that is all that is prefect. Humans are not perfect and will always make mistakes.If your bitochochon can get wavered by seeing that humans are imperfect that's a lack in your emunah in torah and in Hashem.Torah spells out clearly that you will encounter challenges and it will be hard to keep all my mitzvahs and you will fall.The same torah has something called teshuvah for those people.Hashem created the ability to fall,and gets much enjoyment when we stand up and keep walking.As a matter of fact you (BT) fell and picked yourself up, Just because someone is wearing the costume of a frum yid(For what ever reason) he still falls and still gets back up.

Dobt believe in people, it will keep disappointing you.Tzadikim (I.e the old Satmar rebbe(r yoel),sar sholom of Beltz,The lubavitcher rebbe,reb moishe,the chofotz chayim) are the only perfect humans ,believe in them learn there torahs.Other then tzadikim no one will be perfect.If a frum child is chutzpandik or you are cheated by a frum business man, know,this is not what our torah spells out .Letting it effect your frumkiet means you subscribed to people,that's sad.

68

 Jul 16, 2009 at 07:36 AM Anonymous Says:

I personally know the Goetz's and they are an amazing family. They have mekarved a number of people into the community, and have a very special Shabbos table. They are focused on real sincere avodah, and not about putting on any airs.

My old rebbe in Israel (who is not BT) once expressed astonishment why BT's try so hard to behave like FFB's. He said they need to pave their own fresh inspiring path, and improve the frum community for the better.

69

 Jul 16, 2009 at 08:52 AM Emes Says:

Bracha Goetz's article is truly a masterpiece. However, she doesn't go far enough to explain the truth, which is as follows; the reason why an earnest ba’al teshuva may become turned off, is not mainly or solely because of the behavior of others. The underlying reason is due to his own conviction and strength in his own belief system. If he would confidently feel that Hakadush Boruch Hu is "on his side" and not on the side of other bearded or tichul wearing corrupted individuals, then he would never even entertain his mind to being turned off. The day that the "inferior" feeling individuals realize that; the master of the world embodies there earnest behavior over those who make a chilul hashem, is the day Mashich will come.

V'hamaivin yovin



70

 Jul 16, 2009 at 01:19 AM Anonymous Says:

I'm a BT myself & all of us know that the secular world is a garbage can filled with greed and immorality where every last vip in society can't be trusted by their own wife & children. we all know about all the drug usage anyone who can afford it does. the frum world is gold compared to what we left. the average secular child today is incapable of compleating a sentence without swearing. we've become BT because we realise the beauty of the frum way of life guided be the torah. the problems in the frum world are a tiny tiny percent & there are thousands of wonderful frum jews who dedicate their lives to helping correct these problems, that alone is something almost nonexistant in the secular world. & btw most of these wonderful people seem to be from the haredi community, so the MO & the rest of us BTs should stop the haredi slandering & begin to give them the respect they deserve

71

 Jul 16, 2009 at 12:56 AM A BT's Response Says:

This article has many good points. I can relate to this statement "Baalei teshuva often are used to politeness and friendliness from our previous incarnations. Exemplary friendliness, like greeting newcomers to shul, seems unfortunately to take a back seat in many frum communities.

While I joined by local Chabad congregation about 8 years ago, in the 1st few times of coming to the Shacharis service, I noticed many people not shaking my hand or not greeting with a "good morning". I never knew the rule (I believe comes from the Shulcan Aruch) were one is not to greet his neighbor before praying to the King of Kings. Looking back, it would of been nice if someone would explain this to me (or break the small rule), since it would be a pretty good reason not to ever return to shul, since a novice would conceive the shul being unwelcoming.

I learned this from my rabbi: "Just because someone has a black hat and jacket, doesn't make him frum or G-d fearing". A person dressed in such garb, doesn't make him immune to sins and transgression. Both him, the BT and others, are all responsible to answer to Hashem. It is my opinion, that the wrongful actions of an individual, frum or not, should not inhibit one in serving Hashem.

72

 Jul 16, 2009 at 02:28 AM educated BT Says:

Reply to #23  
Halaivy Says:

Which gedolim have ever endorsed the kiruv movement???? it must be the ones that permited mrs. Goetz to educate in Harvard.
Get it straight Mrs. Goetz DAAS BAL HABAIS HEPECH MIDAAS TORAH.

even if what you said was in any way relevant and non-sexist, she is a BAAL TESHUVA....she may have become so ATFER graduating from college

i became baalat teshuva after graduating college, working, then quitting law school to make aliya.

its people like YOU i hope i never encounter

73

 Jul 15, 2009 at 11:51 PM PMO Says:

Reply to #21  
Anonymous Says:

I would love this well educated and thought out woman to show me one school in the civilized goyish world the size of Lakewood or Mir that doesnt have massive security, drug and crime issues. How many of our yeshivos have had columbine massacres? What civilized wealthy community has communal charity organizations comperable to the poorest yiddishe community? They dont give their kids soda, they give them mind numbing TV, movies, video games etc. I could go on but is there a point?

Actually, outside of NYC schools, she is not too far off. I am always amazed by the midos of children who grew up in the south. Every time I meed a family here in FL who moved here from somewhere other than NY or CA, the children show exceptional manners. In the public schools in my neighborhood, there are no security issues and very few drug issues. The kids that I get to meet through various kiruv projects are far more respectful than most I knew in NY (both frum and not).

74

 Jul 15, 2009 at 11:45 PM PMO Says:

Reply to #13  
Moshe Says:

There are bad apples everywhere; the only difference is, that our bad apples don’t do drugs (for the most part) or rape or murder.

Moshe,

Murder... you are probably right.... but plenty of frum people abuse drugs and alcohol, and we have our share of sexual predators (rapists, child molesters, etc). Unfortunately we are very good at keeping our dirtiest laundy behind closed doors. That is until the stench gets to be so bad that the whole neighborhood finally realizes what is going on.

That being said, even with the issues that we have, I would not choose any other alternative.

75

 Jul 15, 2009 at 11:37 PM rebbetzin hockstein Says:

Reply to #17  
Anonymous Says:

Certainly there is room for improvement in everyone's behavior but to compare frum yidden to the secular world and call that world more civilized is ridiculous and chutzpa. I have been a full time kiruv worker for the last 15 years and can say that the lack of values or decency in secular society is what drives people to tshuva more than anything. This article comes, most likely from an insecurity about her position in the frum community and that is unfortunate.

#17 said: this article comes, most likely, from an insecurity about her position in the frum community and that is unfortunate.

OH, how judgmental. Are you are mental health professional who has first hand knowledge of the person who wrote this article that you are able to "pasken" on her mental health??? what unmitigated gaiva (or better yet, I should point you to comment #1).

I happen to personally know the person who wrote this article and she is a very fine and very well respected individual in her community, as well as the broader Jewish community (written/published many books). She has no reason to feel insecure. Rather, I took the article as very astute social commentary.

on the other hand, #17, you seem to have some issues. You may be suffering from a problem called "projection", when an individual has a problem, does not see it in themselves, but projects outwardly and sees their own problem in other individuals. Please seek mental health counseling now, and spare the rest of us your armchair psychobabble.

76

 Jul 15, 2009 at 11:34 PM Yossi Says:

Reply to #21  
Anonymous Says:

I would love this well educated and thought out woman to show me one school in the civilized goyish world the size of Lakewood or Mir that doesnt have massive security, drug and crime issues. How many of our yeshivos have had columbine massacres? What civilized wealthy community has communal charity organizations comperable to the poorest yiddishe community? They dont give their kids soda, they give them mind numbing TV, movies, video games etc. I could go on but is there a point?

Citing Columbine massacres in response to derech eretz in schools is NOT a valid comparison. Massacres such as Columbine, Virginia Tech, etc. Were ALL clearly done by people with severe mental/emmotional instabilities. How can you conpare that with the idea of Derech Eretz?! Clearly they weren't in the right frame of mind at the time.

Furthermore, I've been in numerous frum day schools/yeshivos as well as public schools, and I can tell you from experience that while there may be more "unkosher" activities within the public school system, the way the kids treat one another is ALOT more on the lines of the proper definition of "derech eretz". This is quite sad considering these public school kids were never even taught the concept of derech eretz. You can't equate unkosher activities with the idea of derech eretz. Besides there are plenty of unkosher activities going on in the mainstream frum schools as well. Maybe less than public schools, but still what can you expect of kids never taught certain values of what's kosher and what's unkosher activities. This can't be said of our frum day school equivalents, where the whole basis of the school is teaching what is kosher and what isn't, INCLUDING derech eretz.

My idea of Yeshiva was allways that of kids being mean to one another. Whoever is the vest learner or best at sports was "cool". The amount of crap I've seen supports this. It wasn't until I went to a more ba'al teshuva yeshiva that I saw the real value of a frum yeshiva atmosphere. There it's ALL about derech eretz. My views of yeshiva's have changed.

77

 Jul 16, 2009 at 09:45 AM Rippin Pinchas Says:

I agree with the main thrust of the argument. Someone from a BT background may likely have more ability to say these things than someone from a fum background.

However, I do not know what these people assume before completing their "journey." Do they expect everyone to act 100% yasher from morning to night? People who work on themselves constantly, by learning mussar and incorporating it in their lives, may be able to reach that level. The sad facts are that most people do not do that. Does a BT expect everyone to be on such a level?

Furthermore, a BT is usually someone who is machneah him/herself by admitting how their past was not the proper way to go. An FFB generally does not have that perspective. The Chovos Halevovos discusses this at length.

My question is: assuming the thrust of this article is correct, is the author unreasonably and unrealisticly assuming too much?

78

 Jul 16, 2009 at 10:05 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #70  
Anonymous Says:

I'm a BT myself & all of us know that the secular world is a garbage can filled with greed and immorality where every last vip in society can't be trusted by their own wife & children. we all know about all the drug usage anyone who can afford it does. the frum world is gold compared to what we left. the average secular child today is incapable of compleating a sentence without swearing. we've become BT because we realise the beauty of the frum way of life guided be the torah. the problems in the frum world are a tiny tiny percent & there are thousands of wonderful frum jews who dedicate their lives to helping correct these problems, that alone is something almost nonexistant in the secular world. & btw most of these wonderful people seem to be from the haredi community, so the MO & the rest of us BTs should stop the haredi slandering & begin to give them the respect they deserve

What utter drivel are you talking?

Yes a few secular kids aren't good but I can assure you that most secular kids are smart, educated, considerate and don't do drugs.

Who is feeding you this nonsense?

79

 Jul 16, 2009 at 10:34 AM 2frum4U Says:

the worst part of being a BT is your children are FFB. Luckly shadkins will still brand them as BT. At least there not children of divorced.

80

 Jul 16, 2009 at 10:47 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #65  
Avraham Avinu Says:

I am bit confused: how is it understandable that "unsavory business practices, and the belittling of legitimate attempts at improvement, and “accepted” practices to cheat government agencies, all lead to an earnest ba’al teshuva (returnee to observant Judaism) being turned off"? I became frum even though my father Terach was Ovaid Avoda Zorah. My son Yitschak remained Frum even though his older (half) brother Yishmael enacted unsavory business practices, and belittliled his legitimate attempts at improving himself. My grandson Yaakov remained frum even though his twin brother Aisuv was raping women and “accepted” the practice of cheating government agencies.

For centries; many of my great-grandchildren remained frum in the face of corrupt behavior i.e. the maskilim, tsidukim etc....

For good or for bad - we are a nation of amkishai oref. And yes, the resilience of the neshama (soul) is truly remarkable and miraculous.

The problems is that these days the 'wrong-doers' are celebrated as the cream of the crop of our communities.

81

 Jul 16, 2009 at 10:27 AM Yosef Blau Says:

Bracha Goetz and her husband have demonstrated incredible committment to Torah u'Mitzvos since they becam Baalei Teshuva and have brought up children who reflect the same values. She has earned the right to express her disappointment about the toleration of outrageous behavior by ostensibly Orthodox Jews. Baalei Teshuva, who have been told about the transformational impact of an observant life, understandably become disillusioned by the focus on appearance and not character.
One does not need to be a Baal Teshuva to share her concerns but it is most painful for those like Mrs. Goetz, who have made sacrifices when choosing to join our community as well as to become observant.

82

 Jul 16, 2009 at 11:41 AM Anonymous Says:

I'm a BT and I find that most Frum Jews I've encountered are working on themselves to become better. When treated with respect they will freely admit that they themselves and our communities need improvement - is that really a surprise to anyone.

Although I accept the testimony above of the fine character of Mrs Goetz the tone and some of the generalizations of her letter clearly reflect that she too has room for improvement. Perhaps she is better than many of us as her letter implies, but that implication gives me some pause.

Mrs Goetz - tochacha is results oriented and your letter will give few people the motivation to change.

83

 Jul 16, 2009 at 01:23 PM Anonymous Says:

reply to #78. did you live 500 years ago or do you just live in a cacoon, turn on your radio read a paper or tune into any news source, on any day all you hear about is muder rape infidelity tax evasion drug trafficking etc., much of this by the elite of society, the president of the usa congressmen senators govoners judges & all other bigshots. allmost never do we hear this about the elite of the frum, usually its by pityful people you never heard about. the message we send is that we don't approve of evil, where as their message is try not to getcaught

84

 Jul 16, 2009 at 01:16 PM BTin the Sixties Says:

Ms Goetz is right.
Fortunately I judged frumkeit by the Torah and not by some of its avowed practitioners. I saw the very best from the Bostoner Rebbe, and from a number of wonderful people in other communities I've lived in, but I've also seen too many frumgeborene who don't live up to the ideals they profess.

I am disappointed and ashamed at the "frum" behavior and "frum" attitudes that seem to be endemic in our communities -- the arrogance, the krumkeit, the insularity, the disregard for "dina demalchusa dina". A friend of mine who qualified in social work said for years that she wanted to write a study showing the similarities in attitude and behavior between heimishe Yidden and inner-city blacks, but figured she'd be tarred and feathered if she did.
I won't even join Tehillim groups, now, not after the way we were treated when we tried to get our high-functioning Down's daughter into a school. I don't want to be associated with this kehilla. Yes, I have personal friends; yes, I am involved in my community; but I don't trust people the way I used to. The people in charge don't represent the best in Yiddishkeit, and will even block choshuva rabbonim's efforts to address such problems as dropouts, non-academic boys (oh, no, no vocational training allowed!), dysfunctional families, and so on.
I despair at the waste of emuna thrown away on segulas, alternative medicine, and general flakiness.
I could go on, but why bother? Those who know the situation are as discouraged as I am.

85

 Jul 16, 2009 at 02:20 PM esther Says:

Reply to #41  
Anonymous Says:

You have made a valid point. What drives people to become BT's is not love of the frum, but rather hatred of the secular.

how can you generalize like that?each individual has his own story of what drove him/her to become frum.

86

 Jul 16, 2009 at 03:10 PM Another Frum Jew Says:

Reply to #67  
A Frum Jew Says:

Dear BT,

Did you subscribe to a religion or to people? Yidishlkeit is a religieon that has a torah and that is all that is prefect. Humans are not perfect and will always make mistakes.If your bitochochon can get wavered by seeing that humans are imperfect that's a lack in your emunah in torah and in Hashem.Torah spells out clearly that you will encounter challenges and it will be hard to keep all my mitzvahs and you will fall.The same torah has something called teshuvah for those people.Hashem created the ability to fall,and gets much enjoyment when we stand up and keep walking.As a matter of fact you (BT) fell and picked yourself up, Just because someone is wearing the costume of a frum yid(For what ever reason) he still falls and still gets back up.

Dobt believe in people, it will keep disappointing you.Tzadikim (I.e the old Satmar rebbe(r yoel),sar sholom of Beltz,The lubavitcher rebbe,reb moishe,the chofotz chayim) are the only perfect humans ,believe in them learn there torahs.Other then tzadikim no one will be perfect.If a frum child is chutzpandik or you are cheated by a frum business man, know,this is not what our torah spells out .Letting it effect your frumkiet means you subscribed to people,that's sad.

Dear FFB,
It is true that I subscribe to the Torah, and not the actions of other people. Indeed, I understand that humans will make mistakes. That is why if a friend is rude one morning, or someone visibly frum cuts me in line at the store, or double parks by my car, I will not view it as hypocrisy. If someone slips up, I know they can and probably will do teshuva. That is one of the many lovely things that yiddishkeit has to offer.

But perpetrating major financial scams is NOT an innocent slip-up; cheating on taxes every year is NOT a simple error in judgement; and honoring such people is NOT a result of human fallibility, but rather an attitude that such behavior is no big deal.

And what about all the talk about how much you admire me for choosing to be frum when I could have continued fullfilling every last taiva, but then refusing to let your children marry me, or refusing to let my children into your schools? Is that all a big mistake because you're "only human"? Or is it a calculated move, based on suspicion, mistrust, and outright hostility?

I have put up with a lot of garbage since becoming frum. I stay frum because I know that I must follow the ways of Hashem, even when it's hard or unpleasent. The unpleasentness doesn't come from people slipping up here and there- it comes from a pervasive attitude entitlement, and we-can-do-no-wrong. No one is suggesting that every FFB must be perfect at all times lest we BTs have our faith and commitment shaken; what we do ask is that something be done to correct the attitude of entitlement and blame-shifting.

87

 Jul 16, 2009 at 03:08 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #84  
BTin the Sixties Says:

Ms Goetz is right.
Fortunately I judged frumkeit by the Torah and not by some of its avowed practitioners. I saw the very best from the Bostoner Rebbe, and from a number of wonderful people in other communities I've lived in, but I've also seen too many frumgeborene who don't live up to the ideals they profess.

I am disappointed and ashamed at the "frum" behavior and "frum" attitudes that seem to be endemic in our communities -- the arrogance, the krumkeit, the insularity, the disregard for "dina demalchusa dina". A friend of mine who qualified in social work said for years that she wanted to write a study showing the similarities in attitude and behavior between heimishe Yidden and inner-city blacks, but figured she'd be tarred and feathered if she did.
I won't even join Tehillim groups, now, not after the way we were treated when we tried to get our high-functioning Down's daughter into a school. I don't want to be associated with this kehilla. Yes, I have personal friends; yes, I am involved in my community; but I don't trust people the way I used to. The people in charge don't represent the best in Yiddishkeit, and will even block choshuva rabbonim's efforts to address such problems as dropouts, non-academic boys (oh, no, no vocational training allowed!), dysfunctional families, and so on.
I despair at the waste of emuna thrown away on segulas, alternative medicine, and general flakiness.
I could go on, but why bother? Those who know the situation are as discouraged as I am.

Good points. Being the only frum yid in my office, I am constantly asked about various incidents which always find themselves in the newspapers, particularly anything having to do with sex abuse of minors. I am also always asked to explain the Yidden that pro-Iranian.

88

 Jul 16, 2009 at 04:20 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #84  
BTin the Sixties Says:

Ms Goetz is right.
Fortunately I judged frumkeit by the Torah and not by some of its avowed practitioners. I saw the very best from the Bostoner Rebbe, and from a number of wonderful people in other communities I've lived in, but I've also seen too many frumgeborene who don't live up to the ideals they profess.

I am disappointed and ashamed at the "frum" behavior and "frum" attitudes that seem to be endemic in our communities -- the arrogance, the krumkeit, the insularity, the disregard for "dina demalchusa dina". A friend of mine who qualified in social work said for years that she wanted to write a study showing the similarities in attitude and behavior between heimishe Yidden and inner-city blacks, but figured she'd be tarred and feathered if she did.
I won't even join Tehillim groups, now, not after the way we were treated when we tried to get our high-functioning Down's daughter into a school. I don't want to be associated with this kehilla. Yes, I have personal friends; yes, I am involved in my community; but I don't trust people the way I used to. The people in charge don't represent the best in Yiddishkeit, and will even block choshuva rabbonim's efforts to address such problems as dropouts, non-academic boys (oh, no, no vocational training allowed!), dysfunctional families, and so on.
I despair at the waste of emuna thrown away on segulas, alternative medicine, and general flakiness.
I could go on, but why bother? Those who know the situation are as discouraged as I am.

I agree with BT of the 60's. The frum community has numerous problems that need to be dealt with and most BTs are frustrated watching the community go downhill.

89

 Jul 16, 2009 at 04:37 PM Anonymous Says:

Very true, and unfortunately there's more to it than just what she wrote.

90

 Jul 16, 2009 at 04:49 PM Elliot Pasik, Esq. Says:

To number 87 and all readers who are asked "anything having to do with sex abuse of minors", here is how you answer.

Tell them there are good Jews like Mrs. Bracha Goetz and others who formed a nonprofit corporation entitled, "Jewish Board of Advocates for Children, Inc." Please tell them about our web site, where you can read our Position Paper to the NYS Legislature where we urge the enactment of strong, tough laws that will protect the one-half million chidren who attend New York's religious and other nonpublic schools.

91

 Jul 16, 2009 at 05:49 PM bt of the 70's Says:

Most bts could write a book about both the good and bad treatment that they received from ffbs; the affirmations and the rejections. They are disheartened when they see it affect their children.
Most BTs are shocked when they find that they cannot trust someone just because he or she is frum. At first I believed that anyone who put so much emphasis on what hechsher that they refused to trust would be just as careful with how they treated people but we now know that one has nothing to do with the other. Does anyone think that BTs are not shocked when they read that 3 innocent children are rotting in a Japanese jail because a frum person got them into trouble? Maybe it rattles a few FFBs too but one FFB told me that the drug trade in Israel has its frum contingents. BTs find the Rubashkin story embarrassing, even if we fervently pray for a favorable outcome. All of these other stories such as the Spinka Rebbe, the kids going to camp in a condemned building, and of course the numerous cases of child molestation surfacing, make BTs feel that they are part of a very dysfunctional family. Add that to the shidduch crisis, the tuition crisis, and the fact that in the frum world "work" has become a 4 letter word and it is a wonder that there are still people becoming frum. They obviously feel that observing the Torah will overcome all the negative.

92

 Jul 16, 2009 at 07:01 PM zvi tusk Says:

My father taught me, "Frum iz ah Galach, ah Yid iz Ehrliche". Being Ehrliche is not a matter of degree. Either you are or you are not Ehrliche. on the other hand, Yiras Shomayim is a matter of degree.
After living in the "frum" world, I would choose to live in the world of Bracha Goetz and people like her. They aspire to the same things that I aspire to, Torah, Avodah and Gemilas Chassodim. This is the Lifestyle of Am Yisroel. It might be found in the Yeshivas, it might be found in the Frum neighborhoods. It definitely is not found in the hearts of people who do not behave respectfully and responsibly as Shomer Torah and Mitzvos. unfortunately, those misbehaviors stick out and attract too much attention. When everyone behaves correctly and JUST ONE person misbehaves, a terrible plague punishes all of us. ( see Sefer Yehoshuah perek 7 - the story of Achan.)
We need to live our lives, even doing the most mundane simple things, striving to make a Kiddush Hashem. We won't always suceed, but we have to try .
We have to work very hard to avoid desecrating Hashem's name. We won't always suceed but we must try.
After 120 years, we will be asked 4 questions ( Shabbos 31) . the first one is O'SACK'TAH B'EMUNAH?
please, pay careful attention to Mrs. Geotz's warning. The next message could be a Magaifah like what happened in Ai.

93

 Jul 16, 2009 at 08:45 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #44  
Anonymous Says:

It is so typical of a FFB to totally MISS the whole point of the article. It is patently NOT TRUE that the higher you climb in yiddishkeit, the better the midos become. This is the whole gist of the article, that in places like Boro & Willi, the behavior of the denizens is OFFENSIVE to the average baal teshuva. Where do I start? Offensive staring, offensive ostentatiousness, the bungalow madness, general unfriendliness, rude style of speaking, offensive back-turning, treating dinner guests like dirt, ruining the whole concept of hospitality (Hungarian FFB's have effectively destroyed the mitzva of hachnassas orchim by libeling all guests as "nebbechs"), offensively rude and bad driving habits, excessive pan-handling, excessive money-laundering, excessive welfare fraud, ignoring guests at a simcha/only speaking to people you know, total failure to return phone calls, WASP-style snobbishness, offensive chumros, line-cutting, always talking over someone else, always negating another person's point (always thinking you are right), insulting strangers in public to shame them and prove your "righteousness", looking down on anyone who is not "Hungarian" or "Heimische", this concept of thinking you are "above the law" because you're a Yid, etc.etc.etc.

I have lived in BP for a decade and I have seen a side of Yiddishkeit that I am positive my ancestors DID NOT practice in Europe. This does not mean that there aren't wonderful people, there are, but the behavior of the ultra-frum is a turn off, and the writer of this article is making a valid point, albeit to people so set in their ways and utterly convinced of their righteousness that they are most probably incapable of making the progress Ms. Goetz aspires to in her article.
My advice to other BT? Don't lose all your secular friends.

That's some list. You should really -- really -- consider moving.

94

 Jul 16, 2009 at 08:43 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #40  
Anonymous Says:

How much longer are we going to continue to lie to ourselves about all the supposed problems of the goyishe world in some desperate, defensive attempt to justify our existence?

Here's the newsflash: the secular world is filled with wonderful, kind, charitable decent people who help their fellow men and women everyday. There is no "drug scourge" in the middle and upper middle class communities that compare to ours. Surburban state schools are very good and consistently churn out decent, smart, educated, polite, kind and well-rounded kids. Most people who watch TV aren't reduced to gelatinous, porn addicted fools but lead competent, effective lives often filled with chesed and generosity.

We need to grow up -- and justify our Daas Torah on its own terms and merits, and not continue to lose credibility and believability by touting ourselves as superior to everyone else. As this BT says, let our actions make that point if we believe it to be true.

Very, very well said.

95

 Jul 16, 2009 at 08:42 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #37  
Anonymous Says:

I can"t agree more with your short but to the point comment. Yes many of us FRUM people are also getting turned off.

And nothing is a bigger turn-off than the sort of self-serving excuse-all-evil apologists who are commenting so negatively about this article.

96

 Jul 16, 2009 at 08:38 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #32  
Baruch Says:

I am going to be harsh without even knowing the person I am about to criticize because she is far more harsh in tarring hundreds of thousands of innocent Jews when actually her aim is a small minority: The author, with her "them and us" perspective, has already started off on the wrong foot. Her patronizing tone is both unjustified and hence insulting and her reliance on anecdote and sweeping generalization betrays an arrogance and dooms any possibility of her message achieving currency where it is needed. Positing the false assumption that the affectations of gentility and knowledge equal true refinement is indicative of a shallow perspective and a total ignorance of history and the human condition. Unlike the insipid and saccharine world-view that predominates in contemporary "frum literature", the ills of this world, for obvious reasons, resist any facile attempt at definition and solution.

Wow. You know a lot of big words. You must be right.

97

 Jul 16, 2009 at 08:52 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #66  
Anonymous Says:

This is exactly the reason Baal T'shuvas are not very accepted in our circles.
Why did they leave their goyishe world? Obviously they were not tzfridden with that way of life.
The reason you might see a story in the news against frumma yidden, is only because the case it is out of the ordinary.... and also because of antisemitism to show that the jews are not so perfect as the world thinks of them.
If you read the news about the goyishe world, there are so much bad going on that even the goyim are not happy. Look at the schools, even in the suburbs, where the bessera goyim live. All full of drugs, rape, and even murders of teachers. There is absolutely no derech eretz in the goyishe schools. the teachers fear for their lives.

Where do we have ANY of this in our schools and cheder??? The goyim do not even believe when you tell them that drugs are ZILCH in our schools. And no violence etc. etc.

Ummm, the reason "the goyim do not even believe when you tell them that drugs are ZILCH in our schools" is because that's not true. And they know that's not true. And Jews who don't have their heads in the sand, or someplace north of that, know that too.

98

 Jul 16, 2009 at 09:17 PM feduplakewooder Says:

well said.each day in this town i meet people who make me proud, and those who make me ashamed to be a part of this town.What does rock me to my core is when people that we lifted up as leaders,askanim ,heads of schools,and politicians are corrupt.i am not talking about stealing, cheating ,loshon hora or even sexual misdeeds.i am speaking of people who hate their fellow jew.askanim who for their own benefit would let their own town be destroyed.bais yaakovs that would let a girl not have a place in school simply because they dislike a parent.manhigim who threaten those they dislike with false accusations to leave town ,while protecting child molesters that they are friends with.promoting theft ,and arson and whatever else they need to do to stay in power.a town where the people are complicit in this corruption.keeping quiet so they wont be bothered.it is time to reveal all.when there is a cancer it must be removed.i think we will be amazed how good life will be when the true evil is gone..stop focusing on the smokescreens of tznius, tv internet,etc. they dont want us to see what is really wrong.we must not give in to the cries of moiser in such cases.do what is right for your town so no more good people get hurt.

99

 Jul 16, 2009 at 09:49 PM Asher Lipner, Ph.D. Says:

I too can attest to the stellar character and the sincere desire to improve her community of my good friend Mrs. Bracha Goetz. Her mesiras nefesh, unfortunately goes well beyond what most people give up to become frum (or to remain frum these days). The emotional pain she suffers expressed in her writing from witnessing how far yidden have fallen speaks to her incredible love for all Jews, BT, FFB or NYF (not yet frum).

As to the issue of whether frum people do more terrible things than others or not that seems to have become the sidetrack of this thread, it really is not the issue. The issue is why our community has lost its priorities. In Eretz Yisroel, nobody from our community is speaking up against throwing rocks at Jews who are Tinok Shenishba. An

100

 Jul 16, 2009 at 09:31 PM Asher Lipner, Ph.D. Says:

I too can attest to the stellar character and the sincere desire to improve her community of my good friend Mrs. Bracha Goetz. Her mesiras nefesh, unfortunately goes well beyond what most people give up to become frum (or to remain frum these days). The emotional pain she suffers expressed in her writing from witnessing how far yidden have fallen speaks to her incredible love for all Jews, BT, FFB or NYF (not yet frum).

As to the issue of whether frum people do more terrible things than others or not, that seems to have become the sidetrack of this thread, it really is not the issue. The issue is why our community has lost its priorities. In Eretz Yisroel, nobody from our community is speaking up against throwing rocks at Jews who are Tinok Shenishba. And nobody is speaking out against attacking the police for protecting a Jewish child that appears to be in life threatening danger just because to do so "labels" his mother crazy. (Not only a twisted perspective in its own right, but pushing the community to what could cause people to be badly hurt in the violence, Chas V'shalom.)

Let me give you an example from right here at home. How do we deal with survivors of sexual assault and children who are molested? The goyim have Rape crisis centers and Sexual Crime Victims Advocate Centers. We, who are the Rachmanim Bnei Rachmanim do not. We have Ohel and the Sovri helpline to give survivors therapy, but where are our Advocacy Centers to help victims stand up to their abusers? Where are the frum Jews who will help victims be mekayem their terribly painful chiyuv of Lo Saamod Al Dam Reyecha and report their molesters to the authorities as Gedolie Poskim have ruled they must?

The old answer was that we believed that there WERE no rapes or molestations in our community. That does not wash anymore as the Agudas Yisroel and the Yated Neeman have anounced that we do. And we do have quite a bit of it. And even if it is less than by the goyim, why does that matter? Why do we have B"H so many chesed organizations but nothing for those who have been hurt so badly? The Yated in a recent oped pointed out wisely that victims cannot be expected to protect our community when nobody stands up for them. What they did not report is that often victims are not only given no support, but are actually attacked fo coming forward. Children are commonly thrown out of yeshivas for complaining of being abused.

Furthermore, how can a leading Rov in Brooklyn publicly say that Jews are allowed to steal from goyim, and cheat on their taxes, (against the shulchan aruch) and still be considered a leading Rov?

How can a spokesperson for our leading frum organization, the Agudah, speak out in support and defense of a criminal who stole billions of dollars and ruined many lives, and still be allowed to remain our spokesperson?

We are still in denial that we are not perfect, and that we might possibly need some changes. We still care more about our self-image, and chitzonius, then we do about real live people. These are just some of the problems that we all know deep down we have with our publicly held priorities.

Of course a Torah lifestyle is the best. But Mrs. Goetz is correctly pointing out that we are not truly living one. Even those of us who do not throw rocks. Those of us who pay our taxes. Those of us who report molesters. Those of us who do not defend Bernie Madoff. We are still alll guilty of allowing our community as a whole to promote these values, by allowing these huge examples of Chillul Hashem to take place without protest.

With all of our Torah learning and our Chesed and our Avodah, there is clearly a reason that we will likely still be fasting this Tisha B'av and not celebrating the coming of Mashiach. But there is still time to change....

101

 Jul 17, 2009 at 06:34 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #100  
Asher Lipner, Ph.D. Says:

I too can attest to the stellar character and the sincere desire to improve her community of my good friend Mrs. Bracha Goetz. Her mesiras nefesh, unfortunately goes well beyond what most people give up to become frum (or to remain frum these days). The emotional pain she suffers expressed in her writing from witnessing how far yidden have fallen speaks to her incredible love for all Jews, BT, FFB or NYF (not yet frum).

As to the issue of whether frum people do more terrible things than others or not, that seems to have become the sidetrack of this thread, it really is not the issue. The issue is why our community has lost its priorities. In Eretz Yisroel, nobody from our community is speaking up against throwing rocks at Jews who are Tinok Shenishba. And nobody is speaking out against attacking the police for protecting a Jewish child that appears to be in life threatening danger just because to do so "labels" his mother crazy. (Not only a twisted perspective in its own right, but pushing the community to what could cause people to be badly hurt in the violence, Chas V'shalom.)

Let me give you an example from right here at home. How do we deal with survivors of sexual assault and children who are molested? The goyim have Rape crisis centers and Sexual Crime Victims Advocate Centers. We, who are the Rachmanim Bnei Rachmanim do not. We have Ohel and the Sovri helpline to give survivors therapy, but where are our Advocacy Centers to help victims stand up to their abusers? Where are the frum Jews who will help victims be mekayem their terribly painful chiyuv of Lo Saamod Al Dam Reyecha and report their molesters to the authorities as Gedolie Poskim have ruled they must?

The old answer was that we believed that there WERE no rapes or molestations in our community. That does not wash anymore as the Agudas Yisroel and the Yated Neeman have anounced that we do. And we do have quite a bit of it. And even if it is less than by the goyim, why does that matter? Why do we have B"H so many chesed organizations but nothing for those who have been hurt so badly? The Yated in a recent oped pointed out wisely that victims cannot be expected to protect our community when nobody stands up for them. What they did not report is that often victims are not only given no support, but are actually attacked fo coming forward. Children are commonly thrown out of yeshivas for complaining of being abused.

Furthermore, how can a leading Rov in Brooklyn publicly say that Jews are allowed to steal from goyim, and cheat on their taxes, (against the shulchan aruch) and still be considered a leading Rov?

How can a spokesperson for our leading frum organization, the Agudah, speak out in support and defense of a criminal who stole billions of dollars and ruined many lives, and still be allowed to remain our spokesperson?

We are still in denial that we are not perfect, and that we might possibly need some changes. We still care more about our self-image, and chitzonius, then we do about real live people. These are just some of the problems that we all know deep down we have with our publicly held priorities.

Of course a Torah lifestyle is the best. But Mrs. Goetz is correctly pointing out that we are not truly living one. Even those of us who do not throw rocks. Those of us who pay our taxes. Those of us who report molesters. Those of us who do not defend Bernie Madoff. We are still alll guilty of allowing our community as a whole to promote these values, by allowing these huge examples of Chillul Hashem to take place without protest.

With all of our Torah learning and our Chesed and our Avodah, there is clearly a reason that we will likely still be fasting this Tisha B'av and not celebrating the coming of Mashiach. But there is still time to change....

Too bad that this is terrific response is not on the front page of VIN as an article of it's own. The frum world has no leadership and is going down the drain.

102

 Jul 17, 2009 at 10:00 AM Another Frum jew Says:

Reply to #86  
Another Frum Jew Says:

Dear FFB,
It is true that I subscribe to the Torah, and not the actions of other people. Indeed, I understand that humans will make mistakes. That is why if a friend is rude one morning, or someone visibly frum cuts me in line at the store, or double parks by my car, I will not view it as hypocrisy. If someone slips up, I know they can and probably will do teshuva. That is one of the many lovely things that yiddishkeit has to offer.

But perpetrating major financial scams is NOT an innocent slip-up; cheating on taxes every year is NOT a simple error in judgement; and honoring such people is NOT a result of human fallibility, but rather an attitude that such behavior is no big deal.

And what about all the talk about how much you admire me for choosing to be frum when I could have continued fullfilling every last taiva, but then refusing to let your children marry me, or refusing to let my children into your schools? Is that all a big mistake because you're "only human"? Or is it a calculated move, based on suspicion, mistrust, and outright hostility?

I have put up with a lot of garbage since becoming frum. I stay frum because I know that I must follow the ways of Hashem, even when it's hard or unpleasent. The unpleasentness doesn't come from people slipping up here and there- it comes from a pervasive attitude entitlement, and we-can-do-no-wrong. No one is suggesting that every FFB must be perfect at all times lest we BTs have our faith and commitment shaken; what we do ask is that something be done to correct the attitude of entitlement and blame-shifting.

Dear BT,

"But perpetrating major financial scams is NOT an innocent slip-up; cheating on taxes every year is NOT a simple error in judgement; and honoring such people is NOT a result of human fallibility, but rather an attitude that such behavior is no big deal."

The attitude is the flaw in a human and not in the torah or tzadikim.

and i my comment has nothing to do with small or big slip it has do to with people being flawed and choosing bad paths.If a human chooses a bad path it does not have anything to do with a flawed religion or torah.

and about your kid marring mine. good point. I happen to be the son of a bal teshuvah and married the daughter of a bal teshuvah.This i think , though contreversial , is how it should be.I have a close freind who is from a bt background and he was ffb.It was a bad mix, she had little sensitivity to the things that were standard by him.It is not public information if a child is born with mikvah or not.As ffb we know that there is more of a possibility that tashmish had less outside influence then with a bt. its not that one is better then the other its that each should mix with its own.

103

 Jul 17, 2009 at 04:28 PM Batsheva Says:

As a blessed Baalas Tshuva of over 30 years ago, I've heard this same sentiment over and over; but never so eloquently! Bottom line I heard three-score years ago, was that I should NEVER judge Judaism by Jews - I should just Judaism by the Torah -

104

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