Friday, October 10, 2008

A Yated letter that needs to be read

Dear Editor,
I’m pretty sure that I am speaking on behalf of many Jewish girls. I’m sure they will agree with me on an issue I’ve finally decided to voice my thoughts on.
A “frum-from-birth” person is born frum and born to live a religious lifestyle. She has no choice; she was born that way. She’s expected to do all the mitzvos, no questions asked. Chas veshalom if you ask questions about Judaism. A baalas teshuvah, however, becomes frum on her own free will. Why? Because everything, Judaism and all the mitzvos, were explained to her, detail by detail. She asked myriad questions and she got answers. This was all probably through a kiruv organization.
“FFBs,” however, are expected to act frum with no explanations. Judaism isn’t explained to us. To whom should we address our questions without anyone’s eyebrows being raised?
In school, lessons are being taught, but questions arise. You can’t ask questions in school because, number one, there are too many, and number two, because classmates and teachers will think you’ve gone crazy! Well, maybe not all my classmates, since I’m sure I’m not the only one. After all, I’m a normal, smart, yeshivishe Bais Yaakov high school student from Monsey and no one suspects a thing. I’m actually considered one of the more yeshivishe and frum girls of my class, but I still harbor questions! So you never know, there may be so many more like me.
Maybe Yiddishkeit can be explained to frum Bais Yaakov girls as much as it’s explained in a kiruv shiur or a kiruv camp.
Thank you.
S. F.

Larry's comments follow:
I couldn't agree more. This cry is repeated at all levels - BTs complain that after they leave their initial kiruv situation they feel abandoned and neglected, gerim say that post-conversion their formal education comes to an end. Judaism is supposed to entail education for life - and not just the rote memorization of halacha and minhag, and not just divrei torah, but serious spiritual struggle with both our texts and the world. Growing up as a Conservative Jew, I was told that one of our big differences from other religions is that free questioning was not just allowed, but desired. That spirit needs to be part of Orthodoxy as well. No one ever died from a question, but people need to ask them if only to hear an authority figure say "I don't know, but nevertheless I believe."


Miss S. said...

Israel seems to offer more opportunities for continued learning to FFB. I am not sure why this is also not the case in the US (it's sad).

Ze'ev Felsen said...

The Bais Yaakov girl, were she reading this, might be directed to, a website for Jewish teens to ask those sorts of questions & perhaps have their peers answer them.

And yes, people should keep questioning and rabbis as well as lay people should take the question and not brush it off.