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Marc and Chelsea's Wedding

August 8, 2010 | by Avram Rothman

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

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?


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