I am firmly left-wing Modern Orthodox, with Conservative tendencies. And since I left NY a few years ago, I haven't really been to any Charedi events at all. But tonight I found myself in NY on business, staying in Brooklyn. And there was a big Lag Ba-Omer celebration going on outside on the next block, cordoned off by the police. So I decided to go.
I think there's been enough time and distance that I didn't feel the need to mentally criticize the Charedi community for things I don't agree with at such a benign event. So I just decided to go in Anthropologist's mode and enjoy. And I did. I think I was the only kipa sruga in a sea of black.
It was a little startling to me to hear them announce, in the middle of the singing and dancing:
"We respectfully request that all women get onto the sidewalk so the men can continue dancing around the fire"
Yes, it's not my style, and I have objections in principle to the marginalization of women, but hey, nobody there seemed to mind, and everyone was having a good time. And it's not my community anymore. I don't really belong to the same denomination anymore ("Orthodox" encompasses way too wide a range.) So I decided for tonight to just see it as quaint and I put aside my issues and danced.