The Bergen County Bais Medrash has a large selection of tapes of shiurim by the Rav זצ"ל. I listened to the one on Kedusha and Malkhus for the first time this week. (It was given in 1969, I suspect on the occasion of the Rebbetzin ע"ה 's second yahrzeit). In the middle, I had to pull over to the side of the road, I was so moved. חבל על דאבדין ולא משתכחין.
A recent posting by Gil Student raised the question of the degree of acceptance of returnees by the Orthodox Community. It's a subject to which I've given a great degree of thought over the years. I regret to say, though, that experience has shown over and over again that despite its readiness (nay, it's joy) to trumpet the wave of returnees to Tradition, all sectors of the Orthodox Community are guilty (to one degree or another) of neglecting (at best) and actively discriminating against (at worst) those who were not born into Orthodoxy.
This manifests itself in many different ways, depending upon the sub-community involved. Thus, among Hassidic groups, BT's (=Baale Teshuvah) are not allowed to marry FFB's (=Frum From Births), on the assumption that they were born to mothers who did not go to Mikveh. [Here, the Litvaks are ahead. It is asserted in the names of both Reb Moshe Feinstein and Rav Ahron Kotler, that the fact that a person sought out Torah and Mitzvot proves that this is not a consideration.] Among Misnagdim, it is extremely rare to find BT's who rise socially or institutionally. On the contrary, in Israel, they are all too often shunted to different schools and social groups. In addition, there is woefully little follow-up or support for BT families, who are often not prepared for the stresses that accompany Haredi LIfe. Indeed, when problems arise, they are dismissed as being a result of the individual's being BT's, and farookt at that. [Part of this phenomenon is portrayed in the movie Ushpizin.]
The Modern Orthodox Community, and its Dati-Leumi counterpart, have a much better record in this regard. They still, however, have much in their houses that requires ordering. There is resentment at the way that BT's highlight the failings of the FFB's. (Remind me of a certain comment that Tosfos makes about converts.) Socially, and institutionally, these communities also function very much as closed shops. BT's are at a loss as to how to get 'in there' with the members of their new communities. Very few, if any people are there to help them. Indeed, the socialization of the BT is a far more perilous process than is the acceptance of the yoke of Torah. (I recall telling a neophyte to spend a year at YU, despite the fact that he was already quite learned. My idea was that being able to intelligently discuss Mr. Parker's food [both ע"ה] would prove an invaluable tool in his future life as an Orthodox Jew.)
It all comes down to a sermon I delivered at Lincoln Square Synagogue on Shabbos Chanukkah, 5751, during the two weeks that I was in the running for Senior Rabbi. It was Parshas Miketz (of course) and I discussed the verse that Joseph recognized his brethren, but they did not recognize him (ויכר יסף את אחיו והם לא הכירוהו). Behind the acculturated facade, Joseph was a Jew and recognized the authenticity that his brothers represented. They, however, did not recognize him. They remined alienated from him even after he revealed himself to them. מעשה אבות, סימן לבנים. The Brothers didn't 'recognize' R. Akiva's uniqueness (child of convert's after all). They didn't recognize returning forced converts after 1096. They made trouble for escaping Marranos after 1492. Nor was there a lot of consistent affection and support for Western BT's after two or three generations of assimilation. (Dare I mention Ethiopians, Russian Jews after 70 years of Communism, and a fortiori the Bnai Menashe?) We pay a heavy price for this, a price which we cannot afford.
Is this true globally? Absolutely Not! On the other hand, since when do we push aside one soul in favor of another? [אין דוחין נפש בפני נפש.]
Just something to think about, as we keep up efforts to rejudaize and save the country (and the remainder of the people).