Dear Telz Angel,
I live in a small community and I need your help. My wife and I are BTs but have not flipped out. We’re pretty modern. We both work for a living. I wear my kippa sruga at work, and my wife wears a hat to shul. Our kids go to the local day school and we keep shabbos and kashrus. The problem is with our small community.
My daughter is 11 and only has two other girls in her class, but neither of them will eat our house. My 9 year old son also has friends in school — but their parents wont have their boys come over either. Yes, we own a TV. But it’s not like we watch TV on Shabbos.
Most of the community has frummed out so much that my kids don’t have friends because no one will eat at my home. What can I do? — Mike in Monroe.
The problem is so obvious that I’m disappointed you don’t see it yourself. You are the problem, not your community. You are exactly the worst thing that a BT flipped-out family could imagine. You are a shaygetz. Why? Because you are a BT, but you did not flip out. Imagine how threatening you are to your community Kiruv program. The Kiruv guys only get full credit when their BTs flip-out — and the more they see people like you, they get worried. The fact that you signed your name Mike, not Michoel — or Michoyel — is very telling. No wonder your kids don’t have friends. You are exactly the kind of person that BTs want to reject in order to feel good about themselves.
The good news: now that you know you are the problem, you can be the solution too. Follow my 6-step program carefully, and I assure you within a few months, people will send their kids to your house. Your kids will have friends. Just have bitachon.
1. Get yourself a Borsalino — it’s under $200 and make sure to get a hat brush. Now get your wife a sheitl. A good one, at least $1000, and not one of those Avodah Zarah wigs either. What you wear is a reflection of how kosher your kitchen is.
2. Show up to minyan during the week. Seriously, we could use you.
At this point you’ll be signalling that you are back on track. But this will not be enough to get people to eat at your trief house.
3. Make sure to complain about how liberal the shul is getting. And when you complain, make sure that people know you are serious by peppering your sentences with Yeshivish phrases. Say things like “I can’t believe we actually say a misheberach for Obama, Yimach Shemo.” In fact, you should add “yimach shemo” whenever you talk about people that some frum people don’t like.
4. Mike, it’s time to fix that goyish name and become Michoyel. And now Michoyel, it’s time to start mumbling. Remember, articulation is a siman of what your shmekle does when you have hirhurim ra’im. Never articulate when speaking. They Aybeshter wants us to mumble. And when you talk about G-d, remember, He likes to be called the Aybeshter or the Riboyno shelOylam.
5. Never answer questions directly. If someone asks you: Hey Michoyel, can you give me a ride to the shiur? — you say “Imyirtze Hashem” or “Zicher, I’ll be mishtadel, but I think I might be late since I’m trying to take longer davenning mincha“. Whatever the answer, it should never be a clear “yes” or “no”. Answering questions directly is a sign of gaiyveh. Be humble and mumble.
I think you still need to do one more thing before anyone partakes of the triefisness that passes through your kitchen. You have to be machmir.
6. The most important part of getting people to trust your home is to make arbitrary food related chumras. “An O-U? we don’t use that. My Rabbi says we shouldn’t use any hechsherim that don’t have Hebrew letters in the symbol.” or “Everyone knows that frum people don’t eat cantaloupe for fear of bugs“, or “We decided to get extra salt shakers so that we don’t have deal with the problems about passing them during Niddah, after all our daughter is 11 and so are her friends in day school. We have to be careful now.”
It might take months to get this all straight, but once you change your appearance, speech patterns, and attitude about all those yimach-shmo-niks, then your kitchen will become kosher, and your community members will allow their kids to visit your house. The key is to show people that you can reject others — and this will bring you closer to the true meaning of frum community. Believe me, I know.
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nicasaurusrex/1242430018/