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People think I’m a BT and sometimes I play along

bush_undercoverI was in Monsey for simchas torah, and while we were figuring out where to go for hakoafos, my buddy was talking to this guy who suggested he take me to this chassidish place because I need to see it. He said it in the Im trying to do kiruv way, emphasizing the need, and saying that it would blow me away.

That is when I realized that this time around, my long hair may be very beneficial in some ways. For me its beneficial because my lady friend likes it a lot, other lady admirers also like it a lot and it keeps normal girls at bay. It also feels good to head bang, run my fingers through my hair as if I were in some scene out of a hallmark romance novel and I get to have conversations with my father that dont revolve around me finding a wife or getting a normal job now he can also tell me to get a haircut.

For the first time in my life people think Im a baal teshuva, the last time my hair was this long was when I was 23, I looked younger than that and since I lived in Rochester, people assumed I was leading the kids at risk movement which was centered in places like Rochester at the time. Rudinsky was already a good school, Adelphia was defunct, Hamilton was on its way out and McKeesport sent all its guys to Rochester we were the center of it all, so it was assumed I must have been part of the off the derech scene, which I was not.

Fast forward 5 years, and now that I look older, people actually think I am becoming frum. Why else would this beanie wearing hippie with tzitzis hanging out be at our black hat shul? Why else would he be looking around in wonder? This is one of the best things that could happen, because it makes people so friendly.

I always thought that frum shuls were so unfriendly, and wondered to myself how BTs must feel. Here I was with a colored shirt and a suede yarmulke and everyone was being so unfriendly, downright rude really with their stares and whisperings. Flip forward to me the BT look alike, long hair, huge yarmulke untucked shirt and sandals and they seemed to transform into something else and I was happy.

I was happy for two reasons, for once I could feel at home, like people wanted me there, such a good feeling. Also, I now realized why BTs were so into becoming frum, its because they were treated so well, it was so welcoming that is until I said my name.

Having a name like Heshy Fried and being an undercover FFB doesnt work. Every time I say my name to someone who only came up to me to practice his kiruv moves, I can see the disappointment on their face, its as if I slapped them, I can hear the wait youre an FFB in the back of their minds, and then they snap back into New York mode in which they need to find out as much as they could about you and your family in 15 seconds.

So now of course, I could use my English name, I have two of them and they are very secular. My brothers name is Charles Andrew, you can only imagine what mine is, but that would be a little too deceitful for me. I have always thought about being an undercover FFB, it seems like a lot of fun. I did go to the Sunday discovery session at Aish in Jerusalem once, but that was for the schnitzel lunch. It was so boring, I dont know if I could be an undercover FFB, my true colors would shine immediately, mostly because BTs are so interested in the brainwashing indoctrination sessions that Kiruv organizations design so they could meet their quota of kids they send to yeshiva.

It probably wouldnt work either way because too many people recognize me, I am sure kiruv professionals (I really hate that term) hate me because I like to tell the truth about the horrors that await the newly minted BT, but even more then that I make fun of the kiruv organizations themselves, what would they do if they found out there was an FFB amongst them trying to investigate what actually goes on during the indoctrination sessions. Arent you curious how Chris, can switch to Chaim and within three months of conversion be wearing a black hat and have a wife named shaindy Im curious.

{ 15 comments… add one }
  • Mark November 18, 2009, 4:28 PM

    FS – Arent you curious how Chris, can switch to Chaim and within three months of conversion be wearing a black hat and have a wife named shaindy Im curious.

    LOL 🙂 This is great!

  • yakov November 18, 2009, 6:42 PM

    Well according to your description, I think i saw you at my shul on simchat torah! and i gotta say, coming from 2yrs in ohr samayach (jerusalem) my first thought was BT! but as i kept on observing(the yeshivish term for staring but trying not to!) i noticed some discrepancies although i couldn’t put my finger on it…
    either way..i feel so cool i saw Heshy Fried!

    P.s.and you have to admit its a nice shul!!!

    • Heshy Fried November 18, 2009, 9:36 PM

      Which shul? The chassidish one – Rothenbergs

      I was also at a yekki shul on the end of Lyncrest and I went to the Young Israel on Parker as well

  • FrumGer November 18, 2009, 7:23 PM

    So wait Heshy you go by your hebrew name? you have got to spill the beans and give out your real name…

    My name is Shaun, How goyishe is that nu? i just go by it , but sometimes when meeting folks i get the mistakes like, Sholem or Shaul, Saul, i have even got a Shadel before (girls name i am sure) i never correct them either, no matter how bad I get my name forcockted its aways better then , my real name Shaun Allen Ross. One russian guy for some reason thinks its Nathan (i don’t know how he got that out of shaun)

    • shmuel December 23, 2013, 5:12 AM

      i know it’s a bit late in replying, but wtf is “hebrew” about “heshy” that you call it his “hebrew name”? sounds like german or yiddish to me.

  • Abe the Gun Guy November 18, 2009, 7:45 PM

    You had guys be sent from McKeesport? Funny enough, one of my roommates was sent from Rochester to McKeesport (It was really in White Oak, but don’t tell the people in the community that). I remember one of the Rabbi’s kept saying that we were the last stop before being sent to Rochester, that it was shape up or ship out.

    Of course, the guy got kicked out of McKeesport and sent back to Rochester…

    • Heshy Fried November 18, 2009, 9:37 PM

      There were a whole crew of guys that kept getting sent down and sent back – weird

  • lawschooldrunk November 18, 2009, 8:06 PM

    Another thing with kiruv indoctrination: I met a guy on the train learning gemarah. I knew he was a BT but did not know for how long he was one. He said he was a BT for almost a year.

    I asked if he had learned a lot of mishnayos yet? He said no. O asked if he had learned a lot of niviim or k’suvim? He said no. I asked if he had learned a lot of chumash? He said no. I was shocked – What the hell is this guy doing with an open gemarah?

    I’ll tell you what: the same crappy doctrines that are foisted on 5th grade yeshiva kids that start gemarah waaaaaaay too early is being foisted on unsuspecting BTs. When is this going to stop?

    Good post, by the way. P.s. the 60s are over…

  • Michaltastik November 19, 2009, 12:12 AM

    Head bang? I thought people stopped doing that when the 80’s ended… You know, even the Metallica guys cut their hair. Although, I think in Israel more guys wear their hair long. At least, it seems like their musicians still do. (Idan Raichel… DJ Mar…)

    I can’t imagine what your English name is. I actually thought you didn’t have one. What is it? Inquiring mind wants to know….

    FS ” Arent you curious how Chris, can switch to Chaim and within three months of conversion be wearing a black hat and have a wife named shaindy Im curious.”

    Chris B from here? So, that’s his Hebrew name….

    I use my English name with non-Jews and my Hebrew name with Jews. The dielemma arises when I have a frum professor in college. Should I tell them to call me Michal, or leave it where it is? I’ve been leaving it.

  • Michaltastik November 19, 2009, 12:12 AM

    Oh, and you TOTALLY seem like a BT, even from your posts.

  • jess November 19, 2009, 12:16 AM

    schnitzel aish lunch — classic

  • yakov November 19, 2009, 12:22 AM

    k cancel that… i dont daven in rotenbergs…but hey there was a hippi looking guy in my shul as well so forgive me for getting excited at “seeying” the real heshy fried!

  • Yochanan November 19, 2009, 12:46 PM

    Simchat Tora is great for Kiruv. Hakafot and booze can bring in so many more Ba’aley Tshuva than Rosh HaShana or Yom Kipur.

    Come to think of it, it’s a Kiruv wet dream.

  • MiDvar Sheker November 20, 2009, 1:35 PM

    I’ve gone undercover as a non-frum (of non-Jewish) guy to pick up women for hookups.

  • MiDvar Sheker November 20, 2009, 1:39 PM

    *or non-Jewish

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