August 2, 2010
Chilul Hashem and Kiddush Hashem: The Clinton Mezvinsky Wedding
We are living in interesting times. In years past, it would be clear that an intermarriage, between a Jew and a Methodist, with a rabbi and a Methodist minister co-officiating, on a Shabbat afternoon, no less, is a high level chilul Hashem: Have we no pride? Have we no shame? And I am not saying that everything has changed. The Clinton Mezvinsky wedding could clearly be categorized in the chilul Hashem column.
And yet, how can you look at the pictures of Marc with his tallis - a wool tallis! - and his kipa with American royalty, Chelsea Clinton, and not say, quietly, hmm… There is something important here for Americans to see. Here was not a Jew who was hiding his identity, who was minimizing his Jewishness. No, what the world saw is that a fully attired - proud? - Jew could get right to the top of American society. Not that reaching high society is our goal. But the fact that there were Sheva Brachot, a chupa, a k’tuba and that tallis and kipa, for the world to see, doesn’t that put the wedding in the category of Kiddush Hashem as well? Perhaps not, but I would bet that a lot of our enemies are scratching their heads wondering how the Clintons could marry their daughter to a Jew. Maybe some are saying, “Aha, see this intermarriage! We now know the Jews are doomed.” But I would bet most are scratching their heads wondering if the Jews have gotten the upper hand.
We are living in a world where what was once taboo, intermarriage, has the possibility to expose millions - millions of Jews - to a tallit they may never have known about. And it was a Reconstructionist rabbi Ponet who did the “dirty” work. For now, Orthodox rabbis, even Conservative, don’t want anything to do with an intermarriage. But this Mezvinsky guy was willing to wear a tallis and a kippa in all the pictures - should we shun him forever? No, certainly after the wedding, we welcome him - and Chelsea as well. But maybe we need to think of a way of extracting the Kiddush Hashem from the Chilul Hashem. I don’t know how - but I know that a lot of smart people read this blog.
Perhaps Chilul Hashem and Kiddush Hashem are closer than we thought.
Rabbi Asher Lopatin