The topic is not a new one and has been constantly repeated over and over again: “Baalei Teshuva whose goal is to join a chassidic group”.
In this article I am only referring to serious Baalei Teshuva (newly religious) and not to those schmoozing around with phony Baalei Teshuva Breslov movements. The latter I don’t even want as blog readers and every serious Baal Teshuva can imagine why !
I admit that there may be a difference in Baalei Teshuva joining various chassidic groups in New York. Such as Satmar, Karlin, Chabad or Bobov, for instance. I can only talk about Israel and, in particular, about Jerusalem.
You are doing Teshuva and happen to be in Jerusalem. Or maybe you are are not a Baal Teshuva but a convert to Judaism. It happens many times that people decide to join a chassidic group. In my opinion, various newly religious and converts are rather looking for a kind of home where they try to settle and enjoy community support. Don’t get me wrong ! I am not talking about financial support but a real home and the group serving as a family replacement.
You may come from your Yeshiva / Seminary with great enthusiasm and you are willing to devote the rest of your life to Mitzvot and the frum world. Fine but there is also reality and reality can be very hard. Even if you get accepted by a Rebbe and entering your trial period, very fast you realize that almost everyone in the group is referring to you as a Baal Teshuva / convert. A status you will never get rid off.
What the newly frum usually do because they think that this method might help: They try to please everyone else. Say YES all the time and smile.
That kind of method never worked out for me and I always thought that people either like me or they don’t. Very quickly I gave up making a show and what happened: Suddenly the Chassidim or better, Chassidiyot, became very nice and were open to talk to me.
I remember that years ago, I took a newly religious friend of mine for a Shabbat meal to a family in Mea Shearim. I happen to know this family for a long time and we always got along quite well. Anyway, as soon as my friend entered I didn’t recognize her anymore. Immediately she started creeping around and began to please the female family members. Afterwards the family told me that I should not bring this friend anymore because they don’t see her as honest.
No, she wasn’t but, instead, started a whole show in order to make an impression. This, however, never works because people are not stupid. The more you behave natural, the more people know whether to like you or not.
Furthermore, I am not the type of person who likes to follow any crowd. First of all because I am introverted and, secondly, because I would not want one Rebbe telling me what to do. If I want to ask a question or for a solution I like to consult different people in order to get different viewpoints. Afterwards I take everything into consideration and make my decision. Of course, this doesn’t concern halachic matters or any other religious matter. However, decisions concerning my life I also like to discuss with friends. In other words, I am not the best chassidic group member person but I am also not striving for it. 🙂
It doesn’t matter how accepted you feel after joining Satmar, Toldot Avraham Yitzchak, Gur, Belz or even Chabad, as soon as it comes to Shidduchim, suddenly you have to face your limits. In most cases you will never receive a Shidduch who was born into the group. Unless this someone is divorced or has serious personal problems. In addition to that, as I mentioned before, people will always refer to you as a Baal Teshuva. If not straight into your face but definitely behind your back.
What I don’t understand is that many Baalei Teshuva as well as converts only want to join one of the most extreme groups such as Neturei Karta, Mishkenot HaRoim etc. Why not rather looking into Amshinov, Erloi or Karlin ? As far as I heard, Ruzhin – Boyan does not accept newcomers due to negative experiences.
My intention is not to destroy your future plans but I like telling people the truth and not only stick to what they teach you in Yeshiva.