Sunday, August 01, 2010

Chelsea's Wedding

So Chelsea finally got married, and to get the stuff out of the way: (1) her husband is "Jewish", (2) she did not convert, and as such it was an (3) interfaith wedding (as shown in this quote from the Times: "The interfaith ceremony was conducted by Rabbi James Ponet and the Rev. William Shillady. Ms. Clinton is Methodist, and Mr. Mezvinsky is Jewish." I guess the rabbi is my old New Haven colleague Jim Ponet of Yale Hillel who is a Reform rabbi and possibly knew the President at school. The picture of the chossun shows him in his tallit, so way to go Jim for doing that, and it wasn't during the 9 days, but it was on Shabbat. Oops.

Anyway, rather than lament about the nature of intermarriage among American Jews, or some other weirdness, I would like to point out that we live in a remarkable age when in a single administration the President and Vice President (both non-Jewish natch) have children who married Jews. Cheslea to Mark Tallisdork yesterday, and Al Gore's daughter Karenna Gore Schiff (OK, the Schiffs are now separated but its (a) besides the point and (b) pretty typical for intermarried couples, especially who name their firstborn son "Wyatt".)

To make this point clear: the two most powerful men in the world, two men permanently engraved in American history, have Jewish inlaws. And you can even add that the same president had a Jewish mistress, you can see that Jews have come a long way (oy). OK, forget the mistress and concentrate on the marriages.

While intermarriage is terrible for the Jewish people, and will bring sadness and teeth gnashing to non-Orthodox Jewish continuity, to think of either Clinton & Gore's marriages as 'intermarriage' misses the point: it would have been assumed that for this to happen in a previous era, possibly up until the mid-1960s, the Jew would have been the one to convert. What an age we live in when we would even assume that the daughter of a two-term popular Baptist president would herself convert to Judaism. Let's get real, people.

No comments: