The Plight of the BT
I've had too much reading about Baalei Teshuvah* this morning. First, this article at Beyond BT, which I just don't agree with. I respect so much that man for getting up in front of a congregation and making those mistakes. Because, most likely, a year or two ago, he couldn't have even tried. So instead of being looked at with awe at how hard he has worked in order to even try, he get snickered and laughed at because he is not perfect.
Then, this post from Kallah Magazine's blog, which discusses an article in a jewish "family" magazine (some family values they are espousing, certainly not Ahavas Yisrael*) that apparently disdains every ounce of character that many Baalei Teshuvah should feel proud of. (I have a good hunch as to which magazine said article was published in, but upon checking their website, found that the articles are available only for a cost, which I choose not to support. And I refuse to give them publicity in this blog also, since they obviously like to denigrate part of the future of the world they supposedly are proponents for.) If this is the attitude out there, then I might as well completely throw off all the work I have done, because even my children don't have a chance at being look at as normal. I'm doomed, my kids are doomed - to when does it go until the future generations of my family will be accepted? You know what? If that's the attitude, I'd rather they were never accepted.
My question is, since when is it the baal teshuvah's responsibility to completely forget his past and where he came from, and what brought him to the point that he is now in, and "blend" into the "frum"* culture. Why should he? Hashem* created each person with his or her own unique personality and talents and I believe we should use these to serve Hashem rather than subdue and deny our uniqueness in order to "pass" for FFBs*, especially if the attitude that we will receive is that we will never be good enough anyway.
I occasionally get comments from people saying that they didn't realize I was a baalas teshuvah, because I seem so normal and balanced in my frumkeit*. Those comments are not necessarily something I take pride in - why should I blend? I know how hard I have worked to get where I am and I think I should be proud of that rather than try to hide it. My non-religious past, the fact that I grew up in tiny Jewish communities, made me work harder at and have a stronger Jewish identity than many I know who grew up frum. It's not something I feel I should hide, it's something that I think I should be proud of.
Sorry, I had to rant for a moment. But give me a break - these people who believe in the "purity" of frumkeit need to think again. Because if they don't stop looking for ways to keep people out, then they are going to no longer have anyone to keep in.
Baal teshuva, baalei teshuvah, baalas teshuvah - someone who is not born into an Orthodox Jewish tradition
Ahavas Yisrael - love of your fellow Jews
Frum - Orthodox
Hashem - God
FFB - someone who is "frum" from birth
Frumkeit - religious practice