LazerA (guest post) - a comment to "Killing with self-righteous criticism - Tznius & p...":
mekubal said... "I am left to wonder why the FFB world feels the need to so often blame the ills of Chareidi society on the BT. ... It is attitudes like this that leave me astounded that the BT movement rolls on as well as it does."Obviously, there are many different kinds of people who become frum for many different reasons. Baalei teshuva are people who, assuming they were well-adjusted individuals to begin with, have chosen to uproot their lives for the sake of Hashem. As such, they are, broadly speaking, a very positive influence in the frum world. At the same time, this not mean that they arrive without any negative baggage, and this reality should be recognized by both the baalei teshuva themselves and the broader community. There clearly are problems that are more common among baalei teshuva than the general community. This, of course, does not justify any kind of broad discriminatory attitudes or practices. We should treat people as individuals, not as members of a category.
mekubal said further... It also leaves me to think that those involved in kiruv are heinous criminals. They are cons selling an illusion. For if we are honest with the potential BT ... then I doubt that so many would be sold on the program...As a child of parents from non-religious backgrounds, and a person who has worked "professionally" in kiruv, I have to disagree with this assessment.
First of all, while there certainly is discrimination against baalei teshuva (and their children) it simply isn't as bad as mekubal is describing. Under normal circumstances, the children of baalei teshuva are accepted in frum schools, though perhaps not always the exact school that the parents desired (this happens to many frum parents as well). Baalei teshuva can have difficulty getting married (as do any number of frum singles as well) for a wide range of issues. Honestly, in many cases they are best off marrying other baalei teshuva. Their children may have some difficulty, but unless they fall into the common trap of seeking a "prestige" shidduch, they will almost always find a fine frum young man or woman to marry. (Frankly, those families that are most likely to have a strong bias against baalei teshuva are, in any event, very unlikely to provide an appropriate shidduch for a baal teshuva or his children.)
Secondly, the idea that sincere baalei teshuva would not have accepted the truth of the Torah and their obligation to follow the mitzvos if they had been aware of the social difficulties that they would face in the frum community shows a deep disregard for the sincerity and sacrifices that baalei teshuva are making. These are serious people! They aren't "joining" because they like the social scene; they are "returning" to Hashem because they are convinced that this is their moral duty.
Finally, I can't speak for other kiruv "professionals", but when I have worked with families in the process of becoming observant, I have always been careful to be sure that they went into religious observance with their eyes open, aware of the various social issues they would face. My concern was to properly prepare them for the difficulties they would face and to advise them on steps they can take to mitigate, to some degree, some of these difficulties.
Michoel said... "Baalei T'shuvah tend to ... timidity and lack of independent thought and action."People who choose to move away from the societal norm and become religious Jews are clearly capable of independent thought and action. At the same time, baalei teshuva are late-comers to Judaism and, by necessity, need to receive a greater degree of guidance than a person who was raised in a frum household and received a Torah education from childhood (at least initially). This does not indicate an inherent tendency towards timidity or lack of independence.