Monday, July 11, 2011

Social Stratification in the Orthodox Jewish Community: FFBs, BTs, and Geirim (PartIV)

You may want to read parts 1, 2, and 3 of this series.

For the fourth and final(?) installment in this series we'll examine the do's and don'ts of integrating into the Orthodox community for BTs and converts. This is what I thought of offhand:


1) Find a community that you feel comfortable in. Look around. There are so many different communities to choose from, especially here in Israel.

2) Attend classes - there is so much to know and one is never done learning. Learning halacha will give you the parameters of accepted Jewish behavior and will prevent you from being weird (see don'ts). Be sure to know the difference between the required law and added stringencies.

3) Find a rabbi that understands you and where you are coming from. Some rabbis are book-smart but not people-smart. Even the ones that are people-smart do not necessarily know how to deal with BTs and converts.

4) Find a spouse that is ready to grow together with you. The community is family oriented. "Be fruitful and multiply!"


1) Don't be critical of others. You may see FFBs being lax in their Mitzvah observance. First of all, are you sure? Perhaps he has a source for his behavior that you are not aware of? Although there is a mitzvah of reproof one must know how to do it so that it will be accepted. In general, people do not like to receive criticism, especially from newbies.

2) Don't be weird. For example, the synagogue is not a place to conduct "Primal Scream Therapy". Alternatively, if you cannot help but be weird you will have to find a weird spouse and a weird community to accommodate you.

3) Don't be unrealistic. "HaMakir Et Mekomo", knowing ones place, is one of the fourty eight things that the Torah is acquired with (Avot 6:6). You are probably not going to be the next Gaon of Vilna. Chances are that the Rosh Yeshiva will not pick you to marry his daughter.

That's what I came up with. Welcome to the community.

יִשְׁמַע חָכָם, וְיוֹסֶף לֶקַח

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