Posted by: jdiscover | August 6, 2010

Mazal Tov! Marc and Chelsea

“See, I set before you today blessing and curse (Deuteronomy 11:26).” So begins this week’s Torah Portion, R’eih. The Israelites then and we today are instructed to see the choices before us and to choose the path of blessing. Sometimes the differences between the blessing and the curse are clear and obvious. But what are we to do when the choices are not so clear.

This past week there has been much discussion about the marriage of Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky. Many wonder; is it good for the Jews? A blessing or a curse?

Some say this marriage, a powerful sign that Jews are accepted in American society is a bracha – a blessing. The groom wore a tallit, declaring his Jewish pride and his desire to continue his commitment to Judaism in his married life. The Ketubah (marriage contract) and huppah (marriage canopy) demonstrated the couple’s commitment to bring Jewish tradition into their lives. Steven Cohn, a Chicago-area lawyer, who 30 years ago married a Methodist woman who participates in synagogue and partnered with him in raising active Jewish children, says; “They (Jewish leaders) shouldn’t look at it as a loss…Although there is that risk, there’s also the possibility of gain, which it has been for us.” (New York Times 2010/08/04)

Others see this marriage as a curse. Avi Shafran, public affairs director of Agudath Israel of America, a leading traditional Orthodox organization, said in an e-mail, “The toll being taken by intermarriage on the identifiably American Jewish community is obviously a grave one.”

In my opinion, this and other interfaith marriages are in of themselves neither blessing nor curse. They just are. According to the 2001 Jewish population study since 1996, 47 percent of marriages involving a Jew were interfaith. The question in my mind is how do we make of them blessings?

We make blessings from this reality by sharing the beauty, the value and the meaning of Jewish living with the non-Jewish partners of Jews in our midst. Taught Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, an Orthodox rabbi: “The biggest mistake the Jews have ever made—and we have yet to correct it—is believing that Judaism is only for Jews. … We know how to create passionate marriages. We know so much about inspiring children. We have focused on these things as a people for three millennia. We ought to share what we have learned with the rest of the world.” (Moment Magazine Symposium 2010)

Let us share the joys, the worldliness, the caring for the stranger in our midst, the striving to better the world, the focus on family and the so much more that make us a covenanted, holy people with others and this reality will be a wonderful bracha –a beautiful blessing. Mazal Tov to Marc and Chelsea!

Shabbat Shalom, Rabbi David Rose



  1. Very well put. Thank you for this insightful commentary.

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