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Controversial New Litvish Wedding Dance Shuffles Clockwise

They wouldn’t, rachmono litzlon, want to end up like the Chasidim, whose gyrating, dynamic dance moves are downright scandalous.

backwards clockBnei Brak, November 30 – Scandal erupted this week in the world of Lithuanian Orthodox Jewry when a yeshiva student introduced a new dance to his classmates that involves shuffling around in a circle, but in the opposite direction from the one traditionally taken.

The parents of Leib Schulman, 12, were summoned to Yeshiva K’tana Ohr Meir on Sunday, where the dean of the institution informed them that their son had been suspended for a week as a precaution against the further spread of unorthodox ideas among the students. Dancing must involve only a circle that shuffles counterclockwise, the dean stressed, and departure from that practice might portend other deviations from tradition, a prospect the school and community work hard to forestall.

“As it is, dancing is already a risky behavior,” explained Bar-Ilan University Professor of Anthropology Rhea Kshenery. “It’s only a word away from ‘mixed dancing,’ and an unbecoming, possibly forbidden, expression of joy. Joy is for when Moshiach comes, not before. If you go to a Litvish wedding and watch the men, or observe a Litvish service on Simchas Toirah, you’ll always see the same thing: dancing takes place only within a specific context, with men either holding hands or placing a hand on the shoulder of the man in front of them, and shuffling in a counterclockwise direction. That’s because anything more lively or different opens the door to all sorts of potential decay. They wouldn’t, rachmono litzlon, want to end up like the Chasidim, whose sensibilities in dance moves are downright scandalous by Lithuanian standards.”

“If we allow men to shuffle clockwise, we undermine tradition,” stressed the dean in a talk with journalists after his meeting with the parents. “When we start moving we always move to the right, as the Gemoro says. It would be one thing if the dance move the bochur introduced began with a two-hundred-seventy-degree right turn, but that’s not what he did. His shameful idea was just to move the other way.”

As a precaution, the yeshiva has also barred the student’s two younger brothers from attending for three days, out of concern the poisonous notions he brought into the institution have already infected them. His school-age sisters now face ostracism at their Beis Yaakov, and relatives who spoke on condition of anonymity voiced concern that the marriage prospects for the boy’s seventeen-year-old sister, who is about to start meeting potential shidduch partners, have suffered as a result of the scandal.

“There are values at stake here,” remarked a neighbor who expressed intention to forbid his children from associating with that family. ”

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