Religion & Beliefs

A Former Baal Teshuva’s Anger at Teachers

One of the ways that Orthodox, and even formerly Orthodox people (FFBs) attempt to silence former baalei teshuvah (secular and Liberal Jews who went through a black hat-style Orthodox phase) is to dismiss us as "angry." But there is often … Read More

By / November 24, 2009

One of the ways that Orthodox, and even formerly Orthodox people (FFBs) attempt to silence former baalei teshuvah (secular and Liberal Jews who went through a black hat-style Orthodox phase) is to dismiss us as "angry."

But there is often good reason to be angry. And the fact is, not every former baal teshuvah looks fondly in retrospect at the mind games, the lies, the hagiography, and the general bullshit employed without restraint by the Kiruvniks in order to "make them frum."

As Elana Sztokman writes on the Sisterhood blog in, "Between Baalat Teshuva and Britney Spears,"

Although the journey is enlightening, I wonder how much of the pain is necessary. Put differently, some days I’m angry at my teachers.[...]

In fact, the polarized juxtaposition of Western culture versus ultra-Orthodoxy is at the root of women’s entrapment. As if it’s either one or the other: If you don’t want to be a superficial, mindless, materialistic sex-object, cover up and come to us. The returnee movement feeds on people’s dissatisfaction with what Beverly Gribetz calls "great, big, shopping-mall America," with Paris Hilton and Britney Spears as models of femininity. But of course, there are worlds in between. It’s just not so easy for an impressionable 18-25 year-old sincere spiritual seeker to unravel the subtleties and summon courage to say, "None of the above."

 

I have noted this exact issue of selective retrieval before myself, and would only caution Dr. Sztokman to remember that the blackhatter baal teshuvah experience is just as bogus and debilitating for men. The men may not be refashioned into "helpers," as the wives for the husbands are, but they are refashioned into Hebrew slaves for the Gedoylim.

You say you have anger towards the BT movement, Dr. Sztokman. Well, you are in good company. And as a fellow Kiruv survivor well aware of how nasty the Orthodox get when one criticizes their "outreach" efforts to make other Jews like them (but as second class members), I thank you for coming forward.

Unfortunately, there will be more and more angry former baalei teshuvah in the coming years.

Just this month, the Hertz Family Foundation announced a $1.5 million dollar grant to the Dark Light.