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Sara Glaz

Becoming a baalas teshuvah is no ordinary task — it takes large doses of determination, humility, and a lot of siyata d’Shmaya. Along the way, mistakes are made and lessons are learned. Here, several women who made the leap at least a decade ago share their hard-earned wisdom.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

On dealing with irreligious relatives...

At first, I tried to hide the mitzvos I thought might be uncomfortable for them. After many awkward and frustrating moments, I decided to switch course and take a more direct, communicative, and loving approach: “Yes, it seems a bit extreme, but it’s what I believe, and it doesn’t change the way I feel about you or anyone else in the family.” They got the message and were respectful.

—Tami, New York


Don’t preach, but also don’t be defensive about your lifestyle choice.

 —Debbie, Kew Garden Hills


Give maximum amount of information immediately (when first becoming frum). This way, you don’t have to be constantly moving the goalpost — doing that just leaves them confused and, you, constantly confrontational. Also, leave out the stuff they don’t have to know (they may not think it’s as beautiful as you do!).

 —Rivka, Beitar


A big mistake BTs make is to act “holier than thou” around irreligious relatives. Just show love and warmth! In fact, irreligious relatives can eventually come to value your lifestyle and how you raise your children. They may even appreciate that you’re raising your children in the similar, wholesome way they were probably raised — without the junk and the “anything goes” mentality of our current secular society.

—Dina, New York


Do things on your own terms. For example, become the hostess for family get-togethers. This avoids any problems with kashrus and trying to keep your children away from the television in a relative’s house. Try to anticipate what could go wrong during family get-togethers and try to deal with it beforehand. Depending on your children’s ages, it helps to prep your kids before arriving at Grandma and Grandpa’s house, such as what they can and can’t eat.

—Devorah, Los Angeles

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