New Book On Baal Teshuvas – Authors Want To Hear Your Stories

Are you a baal teshuva? Were you “mekareved” by Aish HaTorah, Ohr Somayach, Chabad or other so-called kiruv organizations? If you are, we want to hear your story.

Were you misled by the rabbis who convinced you to become ultra-Orthodox? Did you idealistically buy into the system only to find out much later that the “truths” you had been taught were in fact not true? Did you wake up one day and realize that BTs from rich families or with high incomes are given much more respect and attention than you are, no matter how learned or pious you have become (and how unlearned or pious they are)? Did you learn too late about the economics of large families with no high-earning breadwinner to support them? Did you leave college for yeshiva? Are you underemployed because you have no higher secular education? Did you give up a career because it was not “frum,” only to spend years selling cameras at not much more than minimum wage?

David Kelsey of Jewschool and Shmarya Rosenberg of have teamed up to write a book that tells your story.

We want to hear the stories ArtScroll and the Jewish Observer will not print, the stories the frume velt will not even admit exist.

Contact us through or by email.

And what about those BTs who are happy, who have not been deceived, who are successful? Send us your stories as well. Unlike ArtScroll, the Jewish Observer and other haredi publications and blogs (like CrossCurrents), we’re glad to listen to opposing views and experiences, and we’ll even publish them.

But do not delay, oh happy BTs. Time is very much of the essence.

Why? Because the longer you wait to contact us, the greater the odds are that some new haredi scandal will pop up and shake your foundation to its core. (Had a lot of those lately, haven’t we?) And then, where will you be? Another dissatisfied BT! So get your haredi PR in as fast as possible, while you still believe it.

And now, let the truth be told!

UPDATE: We’ve been asked if we will accept stories from NCSY and other Modern Orthodox kiruv groups. The short answer: Yes, we will. Please send them on. Thanks!



Filed under Books, Haredim

11 responses to “New Book On Baal Teshuvas – Authors Want To Hear Your Stories

  1. Enigma_4u

    You would probably do well to post this on The Frum Skeptics Group.

  2. Dovid Lerner

    How will you confirm the stories? What if it’s someone pissed off at the frum world in general making up BS?

    For the record: Both of my parents are BT’s CHABAD and are happy with it.

  3. We’ll do everything in our power to confirm each story.

  4. shlepper

    I think you guys need to clarify your purposes here.

    I ASSUME you guys are not anti people becoming more religeous, rather anti the cult like practices used by some of the “kiruv” movements.

    Cult like practices means “short term” sociopathic and negative things being pushed on the BT for the supposed long term gain.

    This does not mean that any of these groups are cults, but rather that they condone the use of these negative practices “because they get the job done”.

    (If any individual working for one of these groups does these kind of things, but the main group does not, but the main group does not censure them, then this means that they condone their behaviour – ie the ends [more recruits] justifies the means [propaganda and lies])

    A simplistic example of this could be: a BT is made to fell that “if they were really friends” with the pushy kiruv person they would try harder to observe a certain mitzvah, (rather than doing it out of personal comitment). This is really saying – “You are only my true friend if you do the following thing for me” (Pikei Avot says this is the example of a false friendship)

    I assume the cynicism you refer to is when the same BT sees another non religeous person, who has money can be great friends with Mr Kiruv without any extra observances.

    The correct approach would be to not treat any Jew as more or less of your friend, regardless of their religeous observance, or Wealth. Similarly, it is best to encourage people to take on Mitzvot as they feel inspired and comfortable, so that it becomes a part of them for the long term, rather than to add one more notch to your belt of people you nagged into performing netilat yadyim in the morning.

    I personally have been thinking about how we should document what “cult like” practices are, and encourage Jewish groups to avoid them, for the long term spiritual good.

    A good resource on cult like pratices is

  5. Michelle


    Oh, you mean like when I turned down the Chabad cantor for a Shidduch and suddenly the rabbi decided that I wasn’t REALLY Jewish after all and he banned me from the shul?

    Or . . . that time when the rabbi used my ten-year-old son to make his minyan, and then, after he told me he didn’t REALLY think I was a Jew and I asked him how he could have used my son to make his minyan he said, “I used the Torah as the tenth person and didn’t really count your son! I never thought you were a Jew!” HUH?

    Or maybe it was when I worked for five days helping with High Holy Days and, just before I drove my three kids home (a two-hundred mile trip with no Kosher restaurants)after Havdallah, I saw everyone eating lasagna in the kitchen of the Chabad house, asked if we could have some, spent ten minutes serving others before myself and my kids, then, when I finally got some food on my plate, the Chabad Rebbitzen came into the kitchen and started yelling at me telling me how I was just a leach and I just wanted to eat their food for nothing–this in front of 40 other people eating the lasagna . . .

    You mean like that?

  6. Like being a member of a minyan for over 20 years and never getting a single invitation for shabbat or yom tov from the rabbi & his wife, while college kids from a nearby campus who know nothing about Judaism go there every week? Like sending emails and letters to your rabbi telling him that you are struggling, and then asking him if he has time to talk and he says, “No, sorry.” Like being told that all the time I volunteered for the community was for my own selfish needs.

    I think they prefer the college kids who know nothing about Judaism to BTs or FFBs whose spiritual quest has hit some bumps in the road. They want uninformed questions, not informed skepticism.

    Irony isn’t strong enough to describe a situation where it’s hard getting to talk with my own rabbi because he’s so busy with kiruv. Fortunately I have access to the rosh kollel here and he’s been helpful.

  7. DisaPointed

    It is good that you continually show rough edges and poor middos. It is good that you constantly demonstrate your instability, insecurity and bitterness, Shmarya.

    If not for that I would worry that you might actually lead others astray.

    People have their own yetzer horah and don’t need a choteh hamachte es harabim wanna-be like you lead them to self-pity and sofek.

    I doubt if any self-respecting, well intentioned person could be influenced by your trash. In fact it wouldn’t surprise me if someday, you yourself were to see beyond it and start all over again.

    Lucky for you that your influence is limited as a real choteh hamachte es harabim cannot do teshuva.

    You are playing with fire, however. If just one person is influenced by your attempts, you could have worlds to answer for.

    Are you ever introspective? ….or have you permenantly silenced your natural tendancy to reflect and experience remorse…and to lay the groundwork for a better tomorrow?

    You are welcome to lash back, change the subject reject or delete my posting, etc. but it may not hurt to reflect upon these words.

  8. Anonymous

    like the time the Rabbi wouldnt let me date his daughter just because I’m divorced, was frum for one month at the time, and never learned in yeshiva? you mean stories like that? I can give you hundreds.

  9. anon

    Isn’t this supposed to be about improper kiruv tactics not “gripes I have about my religious community”?

    I hope the authors can keep their focus, as opposed to the commenters.

  10. Nigritude Ultramarine

    like the time the Rabbi wouldnt let me date his daughter just because I’m divorced, was frum for one month at the time, and never learned in yeshiva?

    Hmmm, sounds very much like Ruth:

    * intermarried widow

    * frum a short time before marrying Boaz

    * never went to seminary

    Today’s Orthodox Judaism would view her as white trash.

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