DISCLAIMER: ANY and ALL misinterpretations of the Jewish faith are mine and mine alone, and not presented here with any intended disrespect. This is only my observation of the neighborhood in which we live and the customs and traditions of the Ortodox.
Our neighbors have 5 boys. Their middle boy, E, was bar mitzvah'd yesterday. We are very close with the family (they are absolutely wonderful!) and they kindly include us for all the celebrations.
We went to the school for 8:45am, stayed for the ceremony. Then we had appetizers, then lunch, and finally left for home at 3pm.
At 6pm we went next door to have dinner. We stayed until 8-ish. At 9pm we went back to the school for E's dance! He wanted to celebrate with a dance for all his friends!
I admire them for how they live their lives based on their faith. They have a lot of rules. I will admit that several times yesterday, I thought, "I'm glad I'm Catholic." They are very superficial reasons, and please know that I mean absolutely no disrespect.
But men and women can't dance together. The women, after an hour-and-a-half of watching the men and boys dance their hearts out, dragged the potted trees into the corner to separate themselves from the men and danced with each other in a little 10'x5' space.
I like dancing with my husband. Even though I don't like dancing.
We spent 3 hours sitting on two different sides of a wall in the same room. Men and women can't sit together at shul, or apparently, at their son's bar mitzvah. For the first two that we attended, there were only temporary screen dividers that one rabbi actually moved away after one of the bar mitzvahs so that the women would be included in the end of the service. At the other, S was at least able to peek around the corner to see her son become a young man.
I like going to church with my husband and holding his hand when we say the Our Father.
What I DO love about living here is the strong sense of community and neighborhood. The kids are outside playing with each other. The moms are outside talking with each other (and with me!). We know each other and recognize each other and care about each other. We used to have more of that in the neighborhood where I grew up, but in recent years, as the "old folk" moved out, there's less of that. My mom doesn't "know" her neighbors like she used to "know" her neighbors. [I will admit that she does speak to them when she sees them and perhaps this is more my impression since I don't live there anymore and I don't know the neighbors anymore! As a matter of fact, I'll talk to my mom about this later this week. I DO know she doesn't have her best friends around anymore; J died several years ago and E moved away many, many years ago. I know that makes it more lonely there for my mom but she manages!]
Here are some photos from the party yesterday...
This is their school. They just completed it a few years ago, perhaps 2006?
This is the room the women sat in for the ceremony. To our left were some permanent screens that prevented S from seeing E. Apparently peeking is, if not permitted, understood, so they were quite upset that these new screens were installed!
The boys danced for 1-1/2 hours straight!!!
They dragged J in just long enough for me to get a photo of him with the neighbors and E!!!
I must admit it was incredible to see an entire room full of teenage boys dancing the Electric Slide!!!
If they can do it... I might just give it a try next time!!!