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An Orthodox rabbi welcomes Clinton-Mezvinsky marriage

by Brad A. Greenberg

August 5, 2010 | 11:28 pm

Rabbi Asher Lopatin, who as head of Anshe Sholom B’nai Israel, a Modern Orthodox synagogue in Chicago that Rahm Emanuel attended, has a fascinating blog post at Morthodoxy. Turns out some Orthodox Jews were willing to welcome the interfaith marriage of Marc Mezvinksy and Chelsea Clinton.

Lopatin writes:

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.

Thoughts?

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