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Chelsea and Marc: Mixed blessings
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Chelsea and Marc: Mixed blessings

Was the interfaith marriage of Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky the sign of “a much richer and better world” or another blow to Jewish continuity?

Rabbi James Ponet and the Rev. William Shillady co-officiated at the July 31 wedding uniting a (Methodist) daughter of a former president and current secretary of state with the (Jewish) son of two former members of Congress. The couple recited the “Seven Blessings” of the traditional Jewish wedding ceremony and the groom wore a tallit.

Some observers, like Rabbi Irwin Kula  felt the mingling of faiths represented the “new reality” in which “we will understand each other across all boundaries.” And certainly it is better to grow up in a country in which faiths learn to love each other rather than demonize or persecute one another.

At the same time, traditionalists worry about the future of Judaism in the face of such a reality. If we don’t focus on making Judaism matter to Jews and insist on in-marriage as a Jewish norm, they say, we risk becoming a fading wisdom tradition in someone’s spiritual toolbox. Or the Kabbalah Centre.

Important Jewish thinkers sit on both sides of this debate, which can’t be resolved here. Like all Americans, we wish this bright young couple a long and happy life together, while we continue to ponder the blessings and challenges of our free and tolerant society.

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