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Tradition links the past with the present and hints about the future, plus there is a certain serenity that comes with respecting tradition.

Like most people, I’ve attended countless Protestant and Catholic weddings, along with a good number of Jewish weddings, but I had never attended an Orthodox Jewish wedding until recently.  It was a large affair, with an estimated 350 people attending.  The actual wedding ceremony was longer than most and very structured.  Frankly, I could not understand much of it.  All men sat on one side, and all women sat on the opposite side.  Once the groom stomped a wine glass ceremoniously, it became quite a party.

There was a great deal of dancing at the party, except men and women did not dance together.  The women danced in a clockwise circular fashion, and the men danced in a counter-clockwise circular fashion.  There was very little drinking to justify so much laughter.  It was fellowship personified.  In fact, this wedding was the most joyous wedding I’ve ever attended.  It was also the longest.  After five hours, we left, while the party continued.

Conservative existentialists would view such a long, joyous event as absurd, because everybody is just going to die anyway.  Reform existentialists would view it as a pleasant way to spend time, while waiting for death.  Normal people would view it as an opportunity to be young and hopeful again.

In a word, Orthodox Jewish weddings are . . . joyous!