Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter

One Couple, Two Backgrounds

C. B. Gavant

How do you knit together two conflicting upbringings — one baal teshuvah, one frum from birth — into a harmonious whole? Several couples share their stories and secrets

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

In today’s shidduch system, FFBs are usually set up with FFBs, and BTs with BTs. This approach makes sense, says Rebbetzin Lea Feldman, who served as one of Neve Yerushalayim’s shadchaniyos for decades. When a couple comes from a similar background, they generally find it easier to understand each other. Yet a “mixed” marriage can be fine if the couple marries for the right reasons, she adds.

“If a person raised in a frum home marries a baal teshuvah because he or she wants to escape certain family problems, it can be a big danger,” Rebbetzin Feldman explains. “But if they’re doing it because they love the fire for Yiddishkeit, the excitement, the love for Hashem that baalei teshuvah often personify, it can be a wonderful shidduch. If there’s admiration and appreciation for where the other person is coming from, it’s wonderful.”

Seeking a life infused with meaning and truth — rather than the humdrum, lukewarm Judaism she’d been raised with — is what initially attracted Chani to her husband-to-be. “As a teenager, I was always questioning, always looking for something more authentic,” she says. “When I met someone with the same desire to search for emes, I was hooked. I wanted someone who would talk Torah at the Shabbos table, someone for whom ahavas Hashem and yiras Hashem were a part of his everyday conversation. I wanted someone whose Yiddishkeit was a real part of his life.”

For Leah, an FFB, it wasn’t much of a stretch to date a baal teshuvah. In fact, it was something that her mother even encouraged her to do. “My parents were baalei teshuvah, so to me it was 100 percent okay,” she says. “I have a lot of respect for where my parents are coming from. My husband is very balanced. When people meet him, they don’t always realize he’s a baal teshuvah. I appreciate the healthiness and balance he exudes, along with his love for Torah.”

Sometimes, a girl will look for a shidduch outside of her own circle because she’s interested in someone a little more open-minded than the average bochur. “If her parents realize that this is what’s best for her, and they find a boy who’s gone through the ranks in a baal teshuvah yeshivah and grown tremendously, I’d definitely encourage the shidduch,” says Rabbi Yosef Brown, a longtime seminary teacher in Eretz Yisrael.

It can be scary to go against the norm, yet taking the plunge has priceless payoffs. At 26, Penina was suggested her baal teshuvah husband by a community rav who knew them both well. “I was a bit nervous about it,” she admits, “but since the rav knew both of us, I agreed to try it, and I’m glad I did. Being married to a baal teshuvah has really stretched my mind. My husband has an openness to learning things from the source,” she says, by way of an example. “Sometimes we’ll come across something that I’ve done my whole life, but he’ll show me that there’s a better way of doing it.”


 To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha. To sign up for a weekly subscription click here.

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.

What’s in a Name?
Shoshana Friedman “What does Writer X have to say this week?”
Atonement — Fake and Real
Yonoson Rosenblum White confessionals and faux rituals
Four Walls Coming Full Circle
Eytan Kobre All the while, there’s been a relationship in the offing...
And Yet We Smile
Yisroel Besser We are the nation that toils to be happy at all costs
Out of This World
Rabbi Henoch Plotnick Dirshu Hashem b’himatzo — we are in Hashem’s company now...
Steven and Jonathan Litton
Rachel Bachrach The co-owners of Litton Sukkah, based in Lawrence, NY
Tali Messing
Moe Mernick Tali Messing, engineering manager at Facebook Tel Aviv
Sick Note
Jacob L. Freedman “Of course, Dr. Freedman. Machul, machul, machul”
Avoiding Health Columns Can Be Good for You
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman Only one reliable guide for good health: our Torah
Endnote: Side Notes
Riki Goldstein Most Jewish music industry entertainers have side profes...
Me, Myself, and Why
Faigy Peritzman Where there’s no heart and no love, there’s no point
Can’t Do It Without You
Sarah Chana Radcliffe When you step up to the plate, you build your home team
Eternal Joy
Mrs. Elana Moskowitz The joy of Succos is the fruit of spiritual victory
The Appraiser: Part III
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP and Zivia Reischer Make sure your child knows his strengths
Hidden Special Needs
Rena Shechter You won’t see his special needs, but don’t deny them
Dear Wealthy Friend
Anonymous There’s no need for guilt. I am truly happy for you