Sunday, August 01, 2010

lovely wedding, wrong day

It was very nice to read about the Chelsea Clinton-Marc Mezvinsky wedding, especially since the groom was the son of my former congresswoman and the rabbi a friend-of-my-friends. Indeed, my wife and I have even stayed at the Beekman Arms, which appears to have figured somewhere in the wedding although I don't think it was held there. That Mezvinsky is proved of his Jewishness--he wore a tallit at the ceremony and has apparently been seen with Ms. Clinton at one or more Jewish services--is a nice bonus.

A bonus, but a rather mixed blessing. While it's nice that they took symbolic steps to reaffirm the Jewish (or half-Jewish) character of the event, unless she converts, any children born to the couple will not be Jewish under Jewish law. And while Rabbi Ponet, who is Reform, is legally permitted to participate in "mixed marriages," permitting a khuppa [wedding canopy] to commence during the Jewish Sabbath pretty much makes a mockery of the entire event, or at very least its Jewish character. That he did so with much of the country watching--if you Google the word "rabbi" today the first thing that comes up is "Rabbi James Ponet"--is especially galling.

The affair is interesting in terms of the current debate about Israeli conversion law, as well. Reform and Conservative rabbis have, understandably, been unhappy about proposals to increase Orthodox control over the conversion process. But if the nonorthodox rabbinate cannot follow basic Jewish law--if indeed they flout traditional religious principles in front of a national or international audience--why exactly should the Israelis, or anyone else, take them seriously?

Addendum: a number of people have informally commented that "it's none of our business" how other people get married. I think that arguably applies to the couple, but less so to the rabbi. The rabbi at Yale is a representative of the Jewish community whether or not he wants to be. Because of his actions tens of thousands of people now think that (i) it's perfectly acceptable for Jews to intermarry, (ii) it's equally acceptable to pick and choose whatever parts of Judaism happen to please you and the heck with the rest. That's everyone's business, I would think.


Post a Comment

<< Home