Sunday, August 31, 2008


About two years ago I'm on the phone with my naive friend. She is very smart and super awesome, but she takes the concept of l'dam l'chaf zchus a bit to literally. She hardly ever sees faults in the frum community even if they're staring her right in the face. She needs them to slap her.

During this conversation I was telling her all about people I've spoken to (and I have a very interesting well-rounded group of acquaintances). I was also telling her about how the community is basically divided in many groups of people who all have fun choosing labels for themselves. And then I told her the only labels people should use are the Sephardi/Ashkanazie type and BT/FFB. Cuz those are the only ones that are actually accurate. Then the conversation somehow turned to how BT are considered a lower class of being when it comes to shidduchim.

She did not believe me. She went on and on about how she and her sister had many friends in HS who were FFB and who had no problems with their being BT. She continued on about how the ones discriminated against are probably the type that aren't fully frum yet, and that would make sense, so there should be no criticism about it.

I told her "Sweety, you're wrong!" and she went and told me how Mrs. F married a BT (and I reminded her of Mrs. F's fathers BT status), and well...the convo must have ended there because I don't remember the rest.

For about a year after that she kept trying to convince me that there's no "lower class" relation to BT, they just like to marry each other because of the culture clash, especially like with the Europeans who are newly frum. What would they have in common with always frum Americans? It was an ongoing discussion with us, then we just stopped cuz it got into the "ok then, agree to disagree mode"

Then about 8 months ago (and I promise you this is how I was told the story) a random mom somewhere (I can specify Brooklyn) was looking through the HS yearbook that naive friend was in. The mom saw my friend's picture, decided she liked the way she looked, and then decided that her son should meet her.

What happens when a mom finds a picture of a girl in a yearbook? She calls her up.

My friend gets a phone call from this woman saying "Hello I am so and so, I saw your picture in HS yearbook, and I would like more information, references and so on, so that I can set you up with my son."

My friend says "Call Mrs. H, she is my close [married] friend and is a shadchan so she will tell you everything you will need to know."

A few days later naive friend gets a phone call from Mrs. H. and she said the following:

I received a phone call from so and so about a shidduch for you with her son. She was asking me a lot of questions which I answered, and then she asked me about your family and background. So when I mentioned you were a BT she said right away "No, I don't think that is what I'm looking for." She thanked me for my time and hung up. I personally think it is her loss. You are a great person and should not take this personally.

About a day later I received a phone call from naive friend and she says "remember that convo we were having on BT being somehow being a lower class?"

And I say "yea" and so she told me the story. And then tells me "You were so right."

SO I say "well you know, his loss. Poor guy it wasn't even his fault he couldn't date you, it was his dumb mom. "

She said "yea. oh well. "

I generally like being right in an argument, but with this, I really kinda wish I was wrong.


frumpunk said...

Man, I cant believe the way some people are. I have a post to write on this right now.

Child Ish Behavior said...

So what is worse her naivety or you being proven right that she was in fact just being naive?

Mikeinmidwood said...

Horrible story and why cant they even date its one date if they like each other fine if not not dont cancel the whole thing once you hear BT. I hate these stories (the fact that it actually happened).

Jessica said...

Sends shivers down my spine...

Moshe said...

You like that? I have a better one.

We had a kohen in our shul, they moved to Lakewood. Before he got married he was learning with an American FFB on at least weekly basis if not more often. The FFB knew how observant this guy is, that's he's a kohen and that he's a medical student. They were learning together for at least a year. The FFB had a daughter who was single. My rabbi decided that since they always learn together and the frummie knows this guy so well that maybe he should go out with his daughter. I believe both of them were over 25 at this point. When my rabbi suggested the shidduch, the response was "But he's a BT!"
The guy from has since became a doctor, got married and has at least 3 kids, if not 4. The looser FFB's daughter, as far as I know, is still single.
The jerk knew he personally, learned with him on a regular basis, knew what his religious level was, but since he's BT, even though he's a kohen too, he was just too second class for his kids.

frumskeptic said...

mike- You know one date could lead to two dates and then eventually getting married...which can lead to a problem if she's a BT. Dunno what problem, but apparently a problem.

Moshe: thats terrible. But maybe thats why your Rabbi keeps on telling me to avoid Americans.

When I first met him and told him most of my friends happen to be FFB, and I go to a MO shul, he was like "avoid dating the FFB friends, unless they're MO cuz MO are a bit different. The FFB kind from your school wouldn't set you up with FFB guys unless there was a problem in the family"

Unfortunately I think he is right.

EndOfWorld said...

Be proud! you've inspired posts about this on other sites :)

Anonymous said...

The woman sounds like a moron. But really, what do you expect from somebody who looks through a yearbook to pick out a girl as a future daughter-in-law? (Is it just me or does that seem sort of mail order brideish? Which is doubly creepy when it's the mom and the guy himself, though that is creepy in itself.)

hil said...

Where did she get this hs yearbook anyway? Do they check them out at the public library or something? It does sound mail order bride-ish.

So looking through pictures of teenage girls is a valid way to look for someone for your son....

~Lady E~ said...

anon & Hil: a friend of mine grandmother is a shadchan and friends with the secretary of my friends school. My friends grandmother sent her to ask the secretary for the previous graduating classes yearbook so that she could set the girls up. I thought this was awful because who's to say the girls in the yrbook want this to be done? Well later i was notified that this is a very normal occurance and that the yrbook is used as a shidduch finding tool. definitely messed up.

chanief said...

I've been hearing about this for a long time, but it never fails to make me feel sick. Just another hypocrisy in the frum community...

notafraidtobeme said...

Want to go one step further? How about how the frum community treats a convert? A frum convert, no less. Stories like these make me ill and remind me of why I'm not frum. Want to feel even sicker? On AidelMaidel, a BT, she wrote about hearing how her non BT brother was marrying a asian goy who was pregnant. She wondered if she should pray, like she had heard rabbis suggest in the past, for the girl to have a miscarriage. She has since deleted both posts.
My best advice, MO jew unite and really be MO. ditch the shadchins and all the other crap. You are Modern Orthadox after all, right? So act like one :)

Rich Perkins said...

The whole shidduch "crisis" is a self made one because of stupidity like this. It just follows along with the list of moronic questions people ask that have no real bearing on anything (e.g. what color is your shabbat tablecloth?).

It is sad that your friend had to find out this way. Although it is better to find out these things before getting involved with someone and then having your heart broken or a miserable married life due to insane in-laws and their ingrained biases.


Joodah said...

If you think BT's have it bad, what about converts? I feel like they have it even worse than BT's. A friend of mine in the syrian community told me they will not even call Gerim up the bimah or for chazanut if they are converts..

The Candy Man said...

On AidelMaidel, a BT, she wrote about hearing how her non BT brother was marrying a asian goy who was pregnant. She wondered if she should pray, like she had heard rabbis suggest in the past, for the girl to have a miscarriage.

This is the problem when a race separates itself. It gets discriminatory. And when there's no one to discriminate within the community, it turns on BTs, converts, etc.

Not exactly in the Mosaic spirit.

Anyhoo, skeptic, you gotta get out of this community pronto. It's gonna drive you crazy. Head for a good university or the Upper West and don't look back.

notafraidtobeme said...

Joodah said:
If you think BT's have it bad, what about converts? I feel like they have it even worse than BT's. A friend of mine in the syrian community told me they will not even call Gerim up the bimah or for chazanut if they are converts..

I experienced this as well. My father went to Israel to convert. He went because this was the religion he felt was right. He did this way pre-marriage or even before meeting my mother. As I grew up no one had a problem with my hebrew name, it was my non-jewish sounding last name that was a problem. I saw first hand how people within the community do not follow what judaism says about converts. With my last name I might as well have been a goy.

Candy Man said:
Anyhoo, skeptic, you gotta get out of this community pronto. It's gonna drive you crazy. Head for a good university or the Upper West and don't look back.

And that is what I did do. By the way, I married an Asian Goy and am very happy with a newly one year old daughter.
If this scares any of you frummies you might want to consider the nonsense being propogated in your community. Until that is addressed, you'll see many more like me taking the road less traveled -the one with a sign labeled "This way off the derech".

KT said...

I just have one piece of advice: Don't judge a religion by its people. Not be religious simply because you don't like religious people?

EndOfWorld said...

I'm wondering if these stories are the majority of cases, or if we're only hearing about the sad exceptions....

notafraidtobeme said...

I don't judge our religion by it's people. Unfortunately, if you are unwilling to play the game by their rules they can make it almost impossible to be religious. Sorry if this offends you. I think that the point I'm trying to get across is that we need to see a change within the community or we will lose others.

End of the World,
I'm sad to say that it was my experience that this was the norm. Funny enough, most frummies I went to school with and shul with were very prejudiced and racist. I was branded as miss liberal just because I didn't think that all minorities were (insert offensive adjective here).

Honestly KT I hope things can change. Maybe the change can come from yourself and others. I'm glad to see this honesty on blogs. If we ignore the problems they will not go away.

One last thought. It occurred to me that within our community we are very derisive. I don't hold by this hechture, his rabbi is not religios enough, etc. While we are cutting apart one another and dividing ourselves...need I say more? Consider this, during WWII it didn't matter what shull you davened at, what hechture you held by, or what you wore. We were all classified the same and subjected to the same horrors.
I'm done commenting. Thank you Frum Skeptic for posting this. It happens more than people think and people need to be aware of it so that things can change.

frumskeptic said...

EOW- I hear stories about the mistreatment of BT ALLLLLL the time. This is just the first timme that it specifically occured to someone I'm very close with. So thats why I posted. Wasn't gonna post about a story a friend of a friends neighbors cousin told me. ya know?

EndOfWorld said...

LOL I've always shortened that connection. If I know a story is true, I may just say "I heard from a friend" even if it were really a cousin of a sister of a friend of a neighbor etc

Anonymous said...

Listen, all of you, this whole "mistreatment of converts and BT thing" seems to me to be an entirely NY phenomenon. I've lived in communities in Miami, Los Angeles and England (not London) and I've never seen or heard of a BT or ger treated any differently than anyone else. One of my best friends is a black ger from Chicago, I also know a few people who's mother or father is a ger, they're all fully integrated into their communities.
I'm not even a ger and my last name isnt Jewish either.

notafraidtobeme: Where are you from?

Mikeinmidwood said...

Rich Perkins is right the shidduch crisis is a self made one and it wont go away till we get it straight that "a jew is a jew and is fit for you, if they have the same concept of the jewish religion"

notafraidtobeme said...

Frum Punk, I'm originally from Philadelphia. To see how some think in Philly check out the post on Wolfish Musings on the VB'aad Hatsnius (sorry about spelling).

Moshe said...

The problem is that when you have too many Jews in one place, "them" shifts from goyim to fellow Jews who are different in dress, customs, upbringing, etc.

The Babysitter said...

That is sad, I feel bad for her, but in way its better this way. Does she want a mother in law who will always hold her BT status against her? It's better in the beginning if they decide if they will be accepting of it.

But really I feel bad because of the heartbreak she must of felt at being rejected, not so much about the concept of the fact that she was rejected because of her BT status.

There's plenty of other people, so this person wasn't the one for her. Plus if a mother picks a girl from looking at a yearbook, and just looking at the picture, then that's shallow to begin with.

I heard a 11 year old say he wants to marry a BT, but I don't think he knows what a BT is. To him it's someone who grew and became more frum than their parents.

I think I'm going to be mean and say that I think BT status is something to say yes or no to.

Just like not everyone can have large families, or children when their old, not everyone can marry a BT. It's a personal thing. The great people can do it. The superficial people can't. But not even superficial, a person doesn't have to be bad person for choosing not to go out with a BT.

It's an option. Since its an option there's no wrong in someone saying no to it. Just like a TV or any other criteria.

The Babysitter said...

FrumSkeptic: about changing communities. I think your in the right community, you shouldn't have to switch or move, that's just escaping the problem. You seem to fit in well and be happy with where you are. You just see issues you would like to be corrected to make it a better community to live in. Because you care about the community you want it fixed, and its not meant to degrade the community.

frumskeptic said...

babysitter- I agree with u. I don't think moving would solve problems just means I'd be running away from them.

I REALLLLY like the conveniences of the city. :)

The Babysitter said...

FrumSkeptic: Yea, exactly.

Today I heard a little speech between the differences of Flatbush and queens, it was so funny. Here's a little summary.

1. The 2 way streets in queens are like bike paths in Brooklyn.
2. What Brooklyn people call lukshen is noodles in queens.
3. What Brooklyn people call a bulkala, queens people call a Challa Roll. So this is how you use it in a sentence, can you please pass me the Challa Roll.
4. When Brooklyn people say soup its chicken soup. While in Queens its a choice between mushroom barley soup and vegetable soup. So if your in Queens and they ask you if you want soup, you say I will have soup if its chicken soup and please put some noodles in it.
5. When you go to a pizza store and order a slice in Queens, you say "Can you please give me a slice to go". In Brooklyn you say "Make me a slice, put me in the oven, cut me in to pieces, and put me in a bag".
6. When a little old lady goes into a pizza store in Brooklyn she says "make me hot"...

Anyways, it was a very funny speech, and you reminded me of it now about different communities.

I don't really go into the city that much, but I do see Flatbush as a convenience.