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After the Leap: A Symposium

Edited by Eytan Kobre

In the last 50 years, tens of thousands of Jews from every walk of life have reclaimed their religious heritage and made their way to a Torah way of life. Their presence in frum communities around the globe has added immeasurably to the success and vitality of observant Jewish communities in too many ways to count. Yet all is not necessarily idyllic in the lives of these baalei teshuvah themselves. How can these difficult issues be resolved, and how can the frum community help?

climbing cliffShould full integration be the universally desirable goal for a baal teshuvah, or is there something to be said for such individuals and families seeking to form or join self-standing communities and institutions?

-What are the challenges to the baal teshuvah — both internal and external — along the road to full integration? When full integration fails, is that primarily due to the individual, the community, or some combination thereof?

-Which segment of the frum community presents the best chance for the baal teshuvah to integrate and take his place as a full member? Do the frum communities in theUnited States or in Eretz Yisrael present different issues regarding integration?

-What are frum communities doing wrong — and right — in relation to their newly observant members?

How much, if any, of a baal teshuvah’s past life — e.g., relationships, cultural interests, pastimes — should he retain after becoming frum?

-How should we respond to a baal teshuvah who speaks of “buyer’s remorse” some years after his return to Torah, due to the sheer difficulty and expense of the frum lifestyle? Due to disenchantment with the frum world? Due to loss of faith or still unanswered questions?

-What are the particular challenges the baal teshuvah faces in marriage, in raising a family, and in dealing with the lack of a support system?

-Are kiruv professionals and their funders focusing on the initial stages of the process and less on the later stages, leaving the newly frum without sufficient resources after they’ve made the leap?

Responding: Rabbi Shaya Karlinsky … When Integration Doesn’t Work | Rabbi Menachem Zupnick … Some BTs Lose It, Some FFBs Never Had It | Rabbi Ephraim Buchwald … “You Have Graduated” | Rabbi Yehuda Zakutinsky … The Lonely, Rocky Road | Yonoson Rosenblum … It’s Never Perfect (But That’s Okay)

 

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