After spending a weekend at my uncle's Hasidic orthodox wedding, I hardly know where to start.
I am amazed at the insular nature of the orthodox community, and how it has constructed its own shtetls and still cowers at the cossacks of the day. I am always amazed at how different the orthodox services are. A sea of mumblers, rocking in worship. My grandfather said that the rocking worshipers reminded him of a friend...who had parkinson's.
The orthodox and I have a fundamental disagreement of what is more important, the spirit or the letter. I laugh at their desire to hone so deeply into rules and laws, only then to figures out how those laws can be circumvented. I hate rules that strike me as lacking common sense, and a strand of worship that so casually accepts rules dictated by rabbis is not a place for me.
But my uncle has found peace in their community. He has found community in their community. And I am happy for him. He has always been a searcher (in a different fashion than me), and I am glad he found his way into one that we generally recognize. I am saddened that he has taken on and internalized their parochial, narrow view on the world. A view in which the world is always against the Jews; a world that strikes me as disdainful of the goyim; a view in my opinion that is revisionist and sadly shallow.
It is amazing that the Jewish community is still fighting battles over the haskalah, the period of Enlightenment, in which the Jews were tenuously welcomed into modernity and began leaving the ghetto. It finally dawned on me why the Hasidic dress as they do: they are returning to a dress that was prevalent in an age right before the Jews stepped foot into the modern world.
But I digress. As long as I didn't talk religion or politics, I found my hosts to be lovely, warm and engaging. What really matters is that my uncle is happy with his new bride, I have lots of new ortho cousins, and plenty of people who want to set me up with a place to stay for shabbas and help me find my nice Jewish wifey.