We in Chabad are very good at making new Baal Teshuvas, also known as BT’s. The incredible acceptance and warm welcome without having yiddishkeit being forced down your throat is often all that is needed for young people to become intrigued.
What more encouraging do you need than being said by one of the incredible shluchim in your area “you want to take it slow, you don’t have to become Lubavitch, being Lubavitch is not easy…”
Some people take their advice, don’t become Lubavitch, they just enjoy the perks of what their local Chabad house has to give and that’s it.
But then we also have the rebels, who get intrigued and want to know more. They are drawn into the Chabad circles, some end up attending Chabad yeshivas and seminaries and decide to move to Crown Heights.
Many leave their family and old friends behind, some parents are supportive, some are less. Beyond their incredible strength in making the leap and becoming part of our community, they often have a few things in common.
Many do not know how to navigate the system, or they don’t have the support or connections they need. You have to network amidst your busy work or school schedule, but where to start? It is sometimes also very hard to find and build up a support network, it takes time and lets be honest – your rosh yeshiva or seminary principal, rabbis and newfound friends just aren’t the same as blood family.
So when these young men and women go out there, trying to find their own purpose in the community and shidduchim, it can be very frustrating. Not only might they not know how “the system” works, what you’re supposed to do, what you are and are not allowed to do but also the feeling that no one truly cares.
Trying to reach out to people and trying to figure out how the system works, but often coming back feeling empty handed.
I am not as deluded as to think FFB’s (people who are frum from birth) do not have issues in this area, but when you’re dealing with it by yourself, trying to swim through the system, without your family or a strong network of people – it’s very hard.
So while we take pride in being Lubavitch, making more people observant – we also need to remember our work does not stop there.
We as a community ought to also keep caring about these individuals the same way we cared when we first reached out to them. They need help and support, and most of all they need to be heard.
So many of these young women and men are incredibly talented and knowledgeable – they could be an immense asset to our community but they also need our support and help to get a standing in the community.
So next time you meet someone new in the community, maybe ask and consider if there is anything you could do to help them, because after all – we are all one big family.