Marc and Chelsea's Wedding
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Marc and Chelsea's Wedding

Marc and Chelsea's Wedding

Marc Mezvinsky's intermarriage is the result of our inaction.

by

The headlines yelled, "Mazel tov!" referring to the recent marriage of “first daughter” Chelsea Clinton (daughter of former US President Bill Clinton & Secretary of State Hillary Clinton) to Marc Mezvinsky, a New York banker and son of two former members of the US Congress.

The news stories all commented on how Mr. Mezvinsky, in addition to his Burberry Brit designed Tuxedo, wore a traditional Jewish talit and kippah.

Mention was made of the recitation of the Sheva Brachot, the essence of a Jewish marriage ceremony, that were followed by a poem and additional prayers pertinent to Chelsea’s religious background.

But even with the million dollar plus budget, the Jewish rituals and the celebrity guests, it still all boils down to an intermarriage.

In my father’s day, when someone intermarried he was making a strong statement: "I do not want to remain Jewish. I want to get away from the burden of Jewish life and become like everyone else." There was nothing Jewish about the wedding and the result was assimilation.

When I was in my twenties and people intermarried they were also making a statement, perhaps less vehemently, but still a statement. Rather than wanting to run away from Judaism, they simply did not know enough to care. “We are all the same. Why should I marry a Jew? Religion does not play a role in our life.” Perhaps ignorance, perhaps apathy, but usually not anger or a desire to get away from being Jewish.

We have now entered a new era.

Mr. Mezvinsky, a privileged, educated intelligent and successful man chooses to intermarry, not because he does not care about being Jewish and certainly not because he hates Judaism. In fact, it appears that he is an identifiable Jew, perhaps a proud Jew who makes an effort to embrace his heritage.

We are in a new era where a Jew can proudly identify as being Jewish and see no contradiction in marrying a non-Jew.

Yet, here he is, standing under a chuppah, wearing a talit, a kippah and reciting brachot as he marries a (famous) member of the United Methodist Church.

We are in a new era where a Jew can proudly identify as being Jewish and see no contradiction in marrying a non-Jew.

We have reached a point where a Jew is so uneducated about his own beliefs, so confused about what it means to be a Jew that he could intermarry and still feel proud to be a Jew.

Marc Mezvinsky's intermarriage is the result of our inaction.

Perhaps we could not reach those who left the Jewish fold because they were embarrassed to be Jews. And it's difficult to engage intermarried Jews who are apathetic and indifferent about being Jewish. But when an identifiable, proud Jew intermarries, then the question we need to ask is why wasn't he educated and reached out to? How did the Jewish people fail in not giving him the knowledge he needed to channel his Jewish pride correctly?

Did our lack of care allow Marc Mezvinsky's intermarriage to Chelsea Clinton to happen?

Why wasn't he invited to someone’s Shabbat table? To a Sukkah? Where were the “Lunch & Learn” programs, the classes, the one-on-one learning when Mark Mezvinsky needed them so desperately?

It saddens me greatly to see those wedding photos of Marc wearing his talit and kippah among the rich and powerful, the lost Jew, a stranger to his own heritage with a fierce desire to be a part of that heritage.

Not just because such a precious soul was lost to his people, but more so by the realization that this could have been stopped. He wants to be a Jew, he is proud to be a Jew and we, the ones who care, failed.

We cannot afford to lose another proud Jew like Marc Mezvinsky. They are waving their tallits in our collective faces and we looking the wrong way.

The question really boils down to us: Do we care?

Published: August 7, 2010


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Visitor Comments: 293

(284) Chaya, February 8, 2014 7:43 AM

Intermarriage is the Jewish peoples' biggest threat

I agree wholeheartedly with all the Rabbi said. However ultimately it is up to each individual Jew if they choose to marry someone Jewish or not. I would add that I think that most Jews, secular or religious, would prefer marrying someone Jewish, but the community does not place an importance in setting up Jewish singles w each other and finding each Jewish person their match.. now adays, the secular Jewish person spends years on Jdate with little luck or trying the occasional singles event with feeling depressed because the single man or woman is alone to navigate the horrible dating scene without the support of a loving, caring community which helps to match make.. the issue is complicated. Yes, the Jewish communities need to do more.. more for single Jews to help them meet other Jews

(283) Anonymous, August 6, 2013 9:07 PM

Intermarriage and conversion

First intermarriage is no light issue. According to many authorities, a jew who intermarries should be excommunicated. They will not be welcome anymore in the family. This is so they will understand that we don't condone or accept it. This is a lesson not only for the one that intermarried but the rest of the members of the household so they too will understand the importance of marrying a Jew. Of course the day they divorce he will be welcome back with open arms. Usually movies are not proofs but here it works. Note how the father reacts in Fiddler on the Roof. When he seems mixed dancing he doesn't like but he can make do but when his daughter marries a goy, she is gone. He understands that this is what he must do. Regarding conversion of the spouse of an intermarriage, it's just like any other conversion. We don't recruit converts. If she wants to convert than by all means she can. We will try and convince her no to assuming that if she is serious she will want to even if we try to convince her not to. I believe that we will be even more likely to not accept the conversion due to the fact that we will be worried that she is not sincere. We will worry that she is doing it just for her husband and that if there is a divorce, she will stop keeping the Torah. I know this doesn't paint such a rosy picture, but then again that's why you aren't supposed to intermarry.

(282) Rabbi Farhi, May 28, 2012 2:52 AM

Mr

I think i will agree to your post and nobody perfect in our word but all i know that we love Jewish and other Torah.Thank guys...

(281) Anonymous, April 3, 2012 12:29 AM

The fraudulant cleric

The man who "officiated" at that farce claimed that he was a Rabbi. We know that he is a fraud since a REAL Rabbi would never allow a Jew to marry a non-Jew. How do we get these "con artists" off the street?

Bee, November 25, 2013 4:59 AM

sometimes they do good

I was a goy who married a Jew. Later I wanted an orthodox conversion...eventually that lead to our divorce. Later I made aliyah and a year later found out perhaps my maternal grandmother was a Jew. I went running to the Beit din of Benai Brak to find out if I needed a get! The Rabbi who married us did Everything to make the wedding invalid and for this I am greatful. This rabbi was raised orthodox and became reform, this is a shame, but he married us on Shabat. The intentions were to marry a Jew to a goy. The witnesses were our fathers- not acceptable on a Ketubah. Rabbi Karelitz said "Not kosher,, not kosher, not kosher! You were never married." No get needed. B"H!

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