Its been a long time since I came up up with a really good BT post– hope you enjoy!
This post is about real BT’s, not folks like me who grew up watching the A-team on shabbos afternoon when my dad was learning at shul, or my friends who have given up treife food and strip clubs for a pious life as a modern orthodox singles on the upper west side. I am talking about those of you that found the path while at a Young Judea event or after a life changing Birthright trip or even while being paid to attend an on campus Aish class. (I hear they pay $400, not bad!)
They start to talk during shul:
This is how the whole topic came about; someone mentioned that BT’s tend to be silent during davening, while their so called frum brethren are yapping away around the bima or to their friends in the pews, you FFB’s are pathetic!
They begin to listen to secular music again:
How many BT’s have I met that the first thing they did was to throw out all their CD’s and stop listening to goyishe music. Then all the sudden their days at Aish or Chabad are in the rear view mirror and they regret throwing out all their hard to find 80s hair metal.
They start visiting their parents again:
You know those folks that flip out and decide that talking with and visiting their parents too much leads to too many arguments. So they decide to just make up excuses when thanksgiving rolls around and then they try and convince the parents to kasher their house to which the father starts yelling about the ways he’s going to kill his son or daughter. When the transition happens and suddenly you are thrust into frumkeit- you realize how stupid and wimpy you were and suck it up with buying some plastic wear and telling your folks where to buy kosher food for you when you do come home. I almost feel like they should teach classes in all BT programs on how to deal with your parents who are usually not happy about the idea of their sons and daughters joining a cult.
They start to daven a normal looking shmona esray:
You can always spot a BT in shull be merely measuring who bows the farthest during shmona esray and who clops their chest like a hungry caveman during silach lanu.
They can follow along in davening:
You can always spot a BT looking over your shoulder at the page number, trying desperately to follow along during slichos (its hopeless folks slichos was made to confuse you) BT’s also rarely do the whole middle finger as a bookmark thing, but when they graduate beyond BT status they gain the skills necessary to follow along in random shuls without their specific transliterated siddurs. They can bust out the page on cue and they don’t have to strain their peripheral vision to see what page you are on.
They wear normal tzitzis:
Tzitzis are a dead BT giveaway, just look for the blue strands, or someone wearing jeans and a T-shirt with big woolen tzitzis. When they make the switch they discover that regular old v-neck tzitzis were just as good the whole time, and that tucking in the tzitzis will not detract from their frumkeit.
They begin to mumble their brachos:
At first they actually say brachos how they are supposed to be said, then suddenly it becomes habit and second nature- and it sounds like a jumbling rather then a prayer, this is unfortunate by the way- because I wish my brachos sounded like thanks instead of “get out of my lane”.
Jewish Geography becomes possible: you did your time in Israel, hung out in Ohr Someyach in Monsey or maybe with the Lubbies in Morristown. At first you were at a loss- only knowing the 3 Jews in your high school class of 1600. Now you got game, you know every kiruv Rabbi in the lower 48 and in Europe, you have stayed at multiple families throughout your BT tenure and you can finally pitch in your two cents when Jewish Geography comes up, and it will, at pretty much every Jewish meal.
They start admitting that they weren’t frum at some point in their lives:
Prior to the switch you were what I have termed as BT deniers (BT’s who deny they ever ate non-kosher, listened to secular music, or any other number of non-frum things) Then all of the sudden they have cast off the BT shell and become a regular old frummy, you start to admit that you really could go for a the Wendys chicken parm sub, or that girl named Mackenzie whats her name, and you would really love to see Ozfest this year. Before your transition you would have kept these thoughts inside- but now they are out there in the open. (doesn’t it feel great to out of the BT closet?)
They stop saying L’chaim during the “savrie merunan” part of Kiddush
Their yarmulke sizes are reduced significantly.
The inside of their tefilin straps change from white to brown.
They learn how to lead benching correctly, prior to this they would have busted out a “Raboty Mir Velen Benchen” clearly giving away their back round to strangers.
They start using incoherent terms like gut yuntif, gut vuch, shkoyach, boruchshmo, etc…
During shul they start to do those half bows during modim and boruch hu.
They stay sitting during kadesh and other random times when half the people sit or stand.
They learn how to nod their greetings instead of actually saying them.
They begin busting out the shortened versions of shabbos and yom tov kiddush.
They start eating food which many BT’s cringe at such as cholent, gefilte fish and chopped liver.
A short glossary for terms in the post (I may make this a habit)
BT = Baal Teshuva, someone who grew up irreligious and became an orthodox Jew along the way.
FFB = Frum From Birth – someone who is grew up orthodox
Frum is the Yiddish term for pious and is used as the primary term for orthodox within the Jewish community.