Friday, September 14, 2012

Baalei Teshuvah and Aliyah

At the end of the Parshat Hashavua shiur this past week, the topic of Ba'alei Teshuvah and aliyah came up. I have no idea what the percentages are, but it just seems like a significant percentage of Anglo olim are also Ba'alei Teshuvah.
This observation makes sense to me for two reasons:
First and foremost, Ba'alei Teshuva, in fundamental ways, have already altered their lifestyles. They've changed attitudes, neighborhoods (often), friends, eating patterns; life after frumkeit is different in almost every way. So, while making the jump to Israel is certainly significant and daunting, BTs are used to change and have already been willing to make it for ideological and faith-based reasons. Aliyah is just an extension of that. FFBs, by contrast, never really undergo fundamental change (unless they turn chareidi), so the thought of uprooting your life and moving to another continent is understandably daunting.
A member of the shiur pointed out another reason why it's easier for BTs to make aliyah than FFBs. As we all know, the chagim are a time when families gather together, making holidays especially challenging for olim, as they watch their Israeli friends and neighbors gather together. The thought of leaving family, and spending chagim essentially alone is challenging, to say the least. BTs, on the other hand, have already "left" their families for the chagim. Their families don't celebrate most of the holidays together, and the ones that do are not kosher, and certainly not the type of Yom Tov a frum family celebrates. So, they don't find the challenge of spending Yom Tov without family as pressing, because they're already doing that in Chutz L'aretz.