Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Chelsea Clinton's Wedding Co-Officiated by Rabbi & Methodist Minister

I have it on good authority that Chelsea's wedding this Saturday night at Astor Mansion in Rhinebeck, NY will be co-officiated by both a rabbi and a Methodist minister. But who's officiating at their wedding should really matter a lot less than how they will be as a married couple. At the first meeting with a couple before their wedding, the first thing I explain to them is the difference between a wedding and a marriage. The wedding is only one day in their lives; the marriage is the rest of their lives (God willing).

There has been so much discussion about the upcoming nuptials of the former First Daughter, Chelsea Clinton, that I don't remember this much attention to a wedding since JFK Jr. married Carolyn Bessette on September 21, 1996 and before that it was the weddings of the British Royal Family that made headlines. The focus for Chelsea and her beau Mark Mezvinsky should be on how they make a home together, how they raise their future children, and how they will work through the same hurdles that face every married couple (whether they are of the same religion or not; of the opposite sex or not; from similar socio-economic backgrounds or not).

My teacher, Irwin Kula, poignantly writes in this morning's Huffington Post ("From the Cathedral to the Bazaar: What Chelsea Clinton's Wedding Says About Religous Sycretism") that this high profile wedding is our society's welcome to the new world of religion in America.

Chelsea's parents were an interdenominational marriage of a social justice Methodist and a Baptist, which would have been unheard of 50 years ago. Chelsea grew up proudly within mainstream Protestantism, while Mark was raised clearly identified in a mainstream Jewish denomination. Their marriage is the next generational step in crossing borders -- from Methodist-Baptist to Christian-Jew. What is unprecedented -- wonderful for some and horrifying to others -- is that in this era no one needs to reject his or her identity to cross these century-old boundaries. Multiple identities -- in the example of the Clinton-Mezvinsky wedding, at least three different traditions being brought to bear -- is the new reality.

I agree. This is the new reality. What matters more than the Mezvinsky's Jewish heritage and the Clinton's mixed religious background is whether this couple will be able to live life together, share happy moments, raise moral children, weather difficult storms, and make each other laugh.

I'm a Conservative rabbi forbidden by the Rabbinical Assembly, of which I'm a member, to officiate at Chelsea's interfaith wedding. But I'm not blind to this new reality. The borders are much blurrier than they once were and more religionists are opening their eyes to this new reality.

I echo Rabbi Kula's congratulatory words: "Mazel Tov, Mark and Chelsea!"


doc411 said...

It's driving me nuts that the typo is being propagated throughout the Internet! The word is syNcretism.

Just had to say that.

Rabbi Jason Miller said...

Yes, I noticed your comment about Irwin's typo on his HuffPo post too. Typo's happen. I preserved the original text from my teacher's article. I'm hoping that you and others will see past this one typo and read the substance of Irwin's message. In typical fashion, he's got a lot of substance there!

Joe Reiser said...

typical celebrity show wedding. rumor has it that she called her mom this morning and was having a nervous break down about concerns her husband would be faithful. where she would get an idea like that from?

Anonymous said...

As a Conservative Rabbi you should not be saying Mazel Tov to Marc and Chelsea. You should be denouncing it. Rabbis, parents and the Jewish community should also be doing everything in their power to prevent interfaith marriages. But it is not politically correct to do so or say so.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for having the courage to do the decent thing and say mazel tov, even if that offends the sensibilities of commenters like the one before me!

Rabbi Jason Miller said...

Here's my opinion on saying "mazel tov" to a couple about to get married who are coming from different faith traditions:

1) MAZEL means luck. TOV means good. I'd wish any couple about to get married "Good Luck".

2) Okay, so mazel tov idiomatically means "congratulations," but does it really mean that everyone who says "mazel tov" has put their stamp of approval on the wedding. It seems to me that it's the nice/appropriate thing to say to two people who are so happy with each other and celebrating their love in a major life-cycle event.

3) I can tell you that the Conservative Movement has spent decades arguing about whether to even acknowledge in a monthly bulletin that a member family's son or daughter has gotten married in an interfaith wedding.

Rabbis have managed to upset and insult hundreds of people for closing their eyes and pretending these weddings weren't taking place. End result? Hundreds of lost congregants, future congregants, and friends. And just as many lost opportunities for engagement into the community.

Many of those parents of the intermarrying children have now followed their children (and grandchildren) out of the doors of the Conservative synagogues and into the Reform temples where their children and grandchildren found acceptance and engagement.

Stuart Kaplan said...

My assumption about this wedding is that it is taking place before sundown. (I tried finding out but couldn't, so if it's after sundown disregard the rest of this.) That should bother us more. If two people from different religions or backgrounds fall in love there is not much you can do or say about it. But if someone from a Jewish upbringing has his wedding on Shabat then that is a slap in the face of the Jewish community.

Rabbi Jason Miller said...


The wedding will take place at 6:00 p.m., which is hours before sundown in New York.

The fact that it's taking place on Shabbat probably doesn't make much difference to those who don't see this as a "kosher" wedding to begin with because the bride (Chelsea Clinton) is not Jewish. There are a lot of Jewish weddings that take place on Shabbat, though not in the Conservative or Orthodox denominations.

While a Jewish wedding on Shabbat calls into question the ketubah signing and kinyan (acquirement through the use of the ring), the later act of bi'ah would make the wedding official. (Sources: Talmud Gittin 81b; Talmud Ketubot 73a; Talmud Yadayim, loc. cit. and Gerushin 10:17, 19; Shulchan Arukh, EH 149:1, 2)

Anonymous said...

In my opinion you might be emblematic of what is wrong with Conservative Judaism----a good reason why I joined Chabad, and practice a very happy and fulfilling Traditional and Orthodox Jewish life.

In my opinion, you threw Judaism under the bus, when you sang the praises of interfaith marriages. In addition to the OBVIOUS problem of a declining number of Jews, WHAT REAL RABBI would marry a Jew and a non-Jew? It is a nullity and FORBIDDEN by Torah. Also, do you know of ANY REAL RABBI who would conduct a wedding on the Sabbath? No mention of the food, which is likely VERY trayfe (un-Kosher)

If the digrace of intermarriage on the Sabbath is acceptable to a Conservative Rabbi then there is NO REASON for Conservative Judaism to continue---the Reform Rabbis will do quite well in shutting down Judaism.

If you lose Jews to Reform Judaism---no big loss. They will NOT be Jews in a generation or two. Their Grandchildren will NOT be Jewish.

Reform Judaism is the EXIT LANE from Judaism. If you feel that Conservative Judaism should compete with this OFFRAMP, then I certainly made the right choice.

I love and believe in Torah, G-d, and Judaism--things obviously foreign to many Reform Jews.

Think about the message that you are sending. This is NOT a wedding to be celebrated by any serious Rabbi.

Rabbi Jason Miller said...

Anonymous (your name sounds more Greek than Jewish, but I digress):

I don't officiate at interfaith weddings and I don't officiate at weddings on Shabbat. I don't know of any Conservative rabbis who do either. Just to get that straight.

I do believe in being nice to people and offering congratulatory wishes to two people who have just celebrated a major life-cycle event. I also wish couples good luck in their marriage (whether they're both Jewish, both non-Jewish, or a mixture of the two).

That being said, I'm surprised that you affiliate with Chabad and are taking such a judgmental stance on this issue. From what I understand about Chabad Lubavitch, the rabbis are very open, welcoming and tolerating to all forms of Jews. The parking lots of Chabad houses are open on Shabbat for those who drive, and the Chabad rabbis don't ask if you had a bris, had a Jewish mother, or keep kosher. They are all about being mekarev (outreach) and getting Jews to perform mitzvot (commandments).

Just yesterday I saw a bat mitzvah invitation for a young girl. The invitation stated the services were at the Chabad shul on Friday evening and the party was at a fancy treif restaurant on Saturday at 6 p.m. (Shabbos goes out here in Detroit around 10 p.m. this time of year). I'm not sure how this "Chabad family" differs from a typical "Reform family" in this community.

Anonymous said...


Yes, Chabad takes all Jews as they find them, BUT remains very observant and true to G-d and Torah.

Yes, they try to ignore the failures of their new members, BUT in Chabad, as in all forms of genuine Judaism, Torah and G-d control. There is a clear line of what is right and what is wrong. Chabad's goal is to bring all Jews back to Judaism and observance in Torah. It is Orthodox but accepting.

The "marriage" of Clinton and Mezvinsky is a nullity, and any "Rabbi" who officiates at such a "wedding" is violating Torah and the word of G-d.

Do you agree this wedding is NOT compliance with Torah? Clearly, it is a forbidden wedding. Any Rabbi participating in such a forbidden wedding is openly flaunting and violating Torah.

Do you believe that Torah controls, and that it does NOT contain the Ten Suggestions???

Do not believe for a second that those Jews who have abandoned Conservative or Reform Judaism---have dropped out.

NO---many of them regularly attend Chabad Orthodox minyans and services. Our stream of Judaism is growing at a FAST PACE...that speaks for itself, and is a testament of how Reform, Reconstructionist and Conservative Judaism need to heal themselves, or cease to exist.

Seth Greenberg said...

Anonymous Chabadnik, why don't you post your name? Chabad would be proud that you are standing up and speaking your mind to defend Torah law. "When no men (leaders) are present, strive to be a man." Hillel (Avot 2:5)

I am always impressed how Conservative 'rabbis' quote Talmud out of context to make clearly forbidden actions 'kosher'. Driving on Shabbat, gay rabbis, and now, apparently, Jews marrying gentiles are acceptable, despite3,500 years of the tradition that meticulously documents the Torah's laws and intentions.

Jason, you can quote as much Talmud as you like, the fact that the event takes place on Shabbat is of no concequence. Even in the presence of 1000 Chabad rabbis, 10,000 Conservative 'rabbis' and the past POTUS, Deut 7:3, Kiddushin 68b, Rashi, Rambam and every traditional source hence make it crystal clear that according to Jewish Law, Mr. Mezvinsky will not be married when he wakes up on Sunday morning to his New York Times and bagels.

I know that it must seem offensive that I put 'rabbi' in quotes. I intend no offense. But it is not my place to compromise the traditional meaning of the word, which has always meant someone who continues the unbroken chain of transmission of Torah law from Sinai. That chain breaks when 'rabbis' make decisions based on what they think and feel rather than on what has been taught for generations back to Moses.

Having grown up in the Conservative movement (two decades at Ramah camps, JTS, the works), my wife and I have chosen traditional Torah Judaism. While the Conservative movement does, in fact, 'conserve' some Jewish tradition, it has, to quote Geordi Leforge (Star Trek NG), "ejected the core". For the same reason that indoor soccer failed in the US, so will the Conservative Movement ultimately fail - nothing is out-of-bounds.

A friend of mine who lectures on counter-terrorism explains 'political correctness' to his audiences thusly; You can be political or you can be correct. But you cannot be both. By placating your detractors in the short run, you will, in the long run, erode the truth until it is no longer recognizable.

So, I do not share your best wishes toward the Clintons and Mezvinskys. This event (not really a wedding by Jewish law) does not herald a new religious reality in America. It is simply another signpost along the road leading to the end of Jewish life in America. You can offer a mazal tov as you whiz by that sign, or you can do as Chabad does and stop to read the signs and work toward reversing the trend.

Anonymous said...


You hit the nail on the head. I am NOT being any more angry than Moses was, when he came upon the Golden Calf.

You do NOT improve and maintain Judaism by continuing to lower the bar. Judaism has rules, and it is NOT a pick and choose situation.

When you violate those rules, you admit your violation, and strive to change. You do not make Judaism better and more meaningful by throwing away as many rules as you wish, and claim that the carcass is still Jewish.

As far as being anonymous---two reasons: 1) It is an option open to choose on this comment board, 2) I am not a member of the various entities mentioned as alternatives :e.g. a Google Acount, and 3) I am well known in my community, and simply do not want to openly hurt those who know me, but do not realize that I see the impropriety of their choices.

That being said, a Jew can always come home, and be observant.

Reform and similar lame excuses for Judaism are NOT the places to go to come home---they are the KIDDIE POOLS or the EXIT RAMPS of Judaism.

Challenge yourselves and BE JEWISH!

Mike said...

I am a Jew married to a catholic married by a Unitarian minister, who has two great kid's who are morally upright and know G-d. For those of you with anonymous hate words, you're starting to sound like the fanatical anti-semites who lump all Jews into the hate catagory.

Amy G. said...

I applaud you, Rabbi Miller for being a mensch and congratulating Chelsea and Mark for this exciting time in their lives.

You've maintained your ground in that as a conservative Rabbi, you would never perform an intermarriage. But by not turning your nose up at them, you welcome Chelsea and Mark to choose Judaism as THEIR faith (if that becomes their desire).

Openmindedness by our rabbis and synagogues, enocurages intermarried couples on the fence to explore Judaism. Attitudes like those in previous commenters would send Chelsea and Mark and their future children straight to the church pews, and christianity would be happy to have them.

With a little mazel, in about 15 years or so, we'll be trying to get a peek at the Mezvinsky Bar Mitzvah boy.

Rabbi Jason Miller said...

Thanks Amy.

Unknown said...

As a Jewish man married to a non Jew, your comments were very refreshing. This is my 2nd marriage; my first was with a Jewish woman at a very young age. It lasted over 10 years. It seems looking back I married her almost to please my parents!! I don't understand why people would want to denounce there marraige.They need to work on their life and relationships before making judgments on someone else’s! We should leave that up to a higher power..

Unknown said...

I am a reform Jew and I have been married for 31 years to a non-Jewish man. We were married under a chupa. We have raised two children in a Reformed congregation started when they were 3 years old. My son had a bris when he was about 2.5 or so. My kids are both adopted and circumsion was not the norm in the country of his birth. It was done under anesthia with a rabbi in the opperating room. Both my kids are B'nai mitvot. My son is now a single parent raising his son as a Jew, so please don't tell me coming from an interfaith family atomatically leads to church.

Anonymous said...

I'm by no means a very religious Jew, but I have joined and love Chabad.

I love Chabad for two reasons:

1. They accept all Jews and don't judge them.

2. They provide you with a clear path of what the right way to practice Judaism is.

While reform and conservative provides #1, they don't necessarily provide #2.

Leaders are supposed to lead by example, and rabbis performing mixed marriages or performing marriages on Shabbat, are not doing that.

Unfortunately that's what many conservative and reform rabbis don't seem to understand. If you are not there to set the example then who do we have to follow? We're supposed to follow you, you're not supposed to follow us.

I don't believe the borders today are blurry anymore than they were the day Moses went up to Mt Sinai. They are only blurry when you have lost your way, just like they were blurry for the people who made the Golden Calf.

I feel sad for people who have lost the meaning of what Judaism is. It's not about coveting the land of Israel, it's not about being accepted by your gentile neighbors, it's not about being socially active, and it's not about hoping that celebrities are Jews.

It's about following the Torah that contains the values that Ha Shem gave us to the best of our ability.

PS I personally think intermarrying is the best thing for Judaism. It takes those people who are not interested in being Jews any longer and essentially filters them out. Their line will end with their children and grandchildren, but that's a good thing in my opinion.

It's better to have 10 Jews who are serious about being Jews and represent Judaism in the way it should be represented, than to have 100 Jews who don't even have a clue about what Judaism is all about, or want to turn it into something else of their own creation.

The silver lining is that it's no problem for their children or grandchildren should they ever want to be Jews because they can just convert, which most of them would probably have to do anyway since many of their mothers are not Jews. They would be welcomed back just like anyone else is.

That's the best kind of Jew anyway, someone who wants to be Jewish and participates in all that goes along with it.

My greatest joy is having my 2 year-old daughter see my wife lighting candles on Shabbat and hearing her telling her mommy "Shabbat Shalom".

If those things have no meaning in a person's life then why carry on the charade of calling yourself a Jew?

I consider myself Jewish because of my religious beliefs, not because of my ethnicity and not because I think I have good morals.

Judaism shows us a path to good morals, but having good morals does not necessarily make someone Jewish.

Not that non-Jews are any worse or better than Jews, but the Torah has always been crystal clear about what Jews are supposed to do.

Unknown said...

You mention that regardless of the kashrut of the ketubah and kiddushin, they will be married via bi'ah later that night (we presume.) I thought bi'ah along with shtar and p'ruta were only effective with two kosher witnesses present?

Rabbi Jason Miller said...

Rabbi David - In masechet kiddushin, there are really 3 ways for a couple to effect erusin:

1) kinyan (ring, coin, etc.) in presence of two valid/kosher eidim (witnesses);

2) Through a shtar (ketubah contract) in the presence of two valid/kosher witnesses

3) bi'ah (sexual intercourse with the intention of creating the bond of marriage).

I'll readily admit that #3 above is a gray area and it's only referring to two Jews. In fact, #3 was likely only intended by the rabbis in cases of levirate marriage.

Bottom line is that Chelsea and Marc are married according to civil law. According to Halacha (Jewish law), I would contend that they are not married. I hope that clarifies.

Aryeh said...

Rabbi, you say that "I'm a Conservative rabbi forbidden by the Rabbinical Assembly, of which I'm a member, to officiate at Chelsea's interfaith wedding." Had the RA not held this policy, and had the family asked you, would you have officiated at this wedding of a Jew and a non-Jew?

If the answer is no, I applaud you, but you're being a little misleading. What you should say is "I'm a Conservative rabbi forbidden by my reading of halacha to officiate at Chelsea's interfaith wedding."

As far as your point that the Conservative movement loses members by not being more friendly to people who've intermarried, perhaps you're right. But how many members would the Conservative movement lose if it rejected in the name of convenience the age-old ideal of a Jewish family built by two Jewish parents?

In my opinion, the Conservative response to intermarriage has to start long before a child is marriage-age. The Conservative movement should strive to increase the number of kids who participate in and are inspired by Schechter schools, Camps Ramah, USY groups, Nativ, and KOACH. Hopefully by the time Conservative Jewish kids are thinking about marriage, the idea of marrying an apathetic Jew (let alone a gentile) won't even occur to them.

Rabbi Jason Miller said...


Fair question. You ask: "Had the RA not held this policy, and had the family asked you, would you have officiated at this wedding of a Jew and a non-Jew?"

When I'm asked to officiate at the wedding of a Jewish person to a non-Jewish person (interfaith), I say "no."

When a friend is involved, I don't just say "no," but I will meet with the couple and see if the non-Jewish partner is interested in conversion. I'm willing to help them by having pre-marital discussions with them, but I also explain that I cannot officiate at their wedding.

My sense is that, and I've been quoted publicly on this topic, in the next 5-10 years there will be Conservative rabbis officiating at interfaith marriages. Rumor has it that there are currently some Conservative rabbis performing interfaith marriages under the radar. This could mean that there are Conservative rabbis marrying Jews to individuals with only a Jewish father, but not a Jewish mother ("patrilineal Jews").

Most likely it will be a high-profile Conservative rabbi who, when he feels the timing is right and it's the right couple (read: celebrity), will perform an interfaith wedding and make headlines. That will force other rabbis to consider following suit.

When I started rabbinical school (JTS) in 1998 there were only a few rabbis who were supposedly officiating at same-sex commitment ceremonies. It was very hush-hush. Then a Conservative rabbi in Baltimore (the late Rabbi Mark Loeb, of blessed memory) was quoted in Jewish newspapers and on the Web saying that he was doing commitment ceremonies. Less than 10 years later, the Rabbinical Assembly changed its policy to allow Conservative rabbis to officiate at same-sex commitment ceremonies (and admit gays and lesbians to the movement's rabbinical and cantorial schools). Now, I can't think of a Conservative rabbi in my generation who wouldn't do a commitment ceremony if asked. That's how this changes.

And it's not just in the Conservative movement that these changes come about. In a few years, there will be several Orthodox rabbis who are women. That was unthinkable a decade ago. Judaism isn't a static religion -- it evolves!

Anonymous said...

Rabbi, (some) Judaism only changes because some rabbis chase after trends in society rather than being anchors in society.

If you can stand side by side with a priest and perform a dual religious ceremony then you have essentially endorsed the Christian beliefs.

People wonder why the Conservative and Reform movements shrink is size, but it seems pretty clear to me why that is.

The one thing that always led to the destruction of Judaism was when Jews followed the beliefs of their neighbors.

This is seen over and over in the Torah, yet here is another Rabbi endorsing this, as if it is inevitable.

It's can only come to pass when Rabbis such as yourself allow it to come to pass.

Sad, but that's the truth. And it will remain this way until Rabbis choose to lead society rather than to follow its trends.

I thank G-d that I have always had a strong faith in him and never cared too much what some rabbis said who promoted such anti-Jewish ideas.

The day my Rabbi starts officiating at interfaith marriages, or same sex weddings, is the day I stop attending shul and instead pray at home.

If I have stronger beliefs than the Rabbis do then I have no need for them anymore.

As a congregant I would never pay a dollar to support any shul that promoted anything other than traditional Judaism.

Rabbi Jason Miller said...

To those who say that Orthodox Judaism doesn't change, I just read a great article about change in Orthodoxy.

The first paragraph begins: In the Orthodox community, the words “change” and “innovation” are not very popular. They imply a departure from the tradition, a need for something different from the rich tradition that has been handed down to us from the past. And yet, the Orthodox community does change. Sometimes it changes gradually over many generations, as with the increase in women’s education through the Bais Yaakov movement over the last century. Other times, it changes abruptly, in reaction to current events. In fact, whatever one has to say about whether the Orthodox community “changes,” at minimum we can agree that the Orthodox community reacts. And that reaction can be for good or bad, depending on your point of view, and depending on what inputs were in place when the reaction occurred.

Continue Reading Here

Barry said...

I can not believe a Rabbi would utter such words ! A Jewish wedding is a celebration of destiny a new link in a chain that has been going on from the day our nation was created and will hopefully go strong until the final redepmtion ! An interfaith marriage is the end of this bond ! No wonder the Jewish community in the US has shrunk in the past 50 years ! Instread of being a leader you are just trying to please public opinion ! "Pnei hador kepnei hakelev" . (You proably wil play off my comments by saying that I'm some kind of extreme orthodox person with no understanding of the worlds need but I'm nothing further than that I'm a grandchild of holocaust survivers wondering what the point is to survive if two generations later we get wiped away by assimilation)

Anonymous said...

Rabbi, no offense but you are being disingenuous here. These changes you refer to are how the Orthodox community interacts with the world at large, not about their religious beliefs or how they conduct services.

These are relevant social issues for any somewhat closed-off community, but don't have anything to do with their way of practicing Orthodox Judaism.

I don't believe any change in Orthodoxy will be anything other than a slight imperceptible change.

What I mean by that is if someone walks out of an Orthodox service now, and comes back in 20 years time, he probably won't notice much, if any, difference.

This is not the case with Conservative or Reform since their beliefs are fluid and have no boundaries.

Correct me if I am wrong but the Conservatives (and Reform) don't even have an official and unified belief on Judaism itself. You are free to believe that the Torah was written by men, just as you are free to believe it was dictated by G-d.

In Orthodox Judaism there is no such choice, nor will there ever be, so how far can it really stray from its roots?

Once you believe that the Torah was written by men you have essentially opened the door to any kind of change you can think of since there are no boundaries.

I don't even know of any mainstream Christian church that believes that their new testament was just written by men, rather than being divinely inspired.

Anonymous said...

Rabbi Jason -

1. Isn't it true that Rabbis given smicha from the RA (Conservative Judaism's governing body) can be defrocked (if you will) if they even attend an interfaith wedding?
2. Isn't it true that statistics interfaith marriages by and large just don't work in the long run compared to intrafaith marrages with notable and various exceptions.
3. Isn't it true that the progeny of the Clinton/Mezvinsky will not be halachically Jewish?

Given that the answers to these questions are yes - Then shouldn't the answer be that Conservative Judaism stick to conserving this area of Judaism and hold its ground and let Mezvinsky's parents go to a Reform Temple to daven if they feel more accepted there? and to not wish this couple a mazel tov any more then if the groom worked on Yom-Kipper or ate a bacon-cheeseburger?

Rabbi Jason Miller said...

Here are the answers to your questions:

1. Isn't it true that Rabbis given smicha from the RA can be defrocked if they even attend an interfaith wedding?

-In theory this is true though I don't know of anyone who has been ejected from the RA for this. There is an implied exception for close family members. The rule has to do with marit ayin -- that is, a Conservative rabbi showing up at an interfaith wedding could be perceived as tacit approval/endorsement.

2. Isn't it true that statistics interfaith marriages by and large just don't work in the long run compared to intrafaith marrages with notable and various exceptions.

The statistics I've seen do in fact show that interfaith marriages end in divorce more than intrafaith marriages. Anecdotally, I've noticed this as well. I know that the leaders in the outreach and interfaith family movements (e.g., Ed Case, Kerry Olitzky, etc.) take exception with those claims.

3. Isn't it true that the progeny of the Clinton/Mezvinsky will not be halachically Jewish?

According to me, correct. The children of that union, unless converted, will not be halakhically Jewish (or unless Chelsea converts before giving birth).

Regarding Marc Mezvinsky's parents... they can go to any shul they want. Just because their son intermarried doesn't mean they should have to switch denominations. That's just silly.

Regarding your Yom Kippur comment, I believe the extreme example is not just eating a bacon cheeseburger on YK, but a bacon DOUBLE cheeseburger. If you want to underscore your point, just add "while smoking" to the end of that example.

Anonymous said...

Rabbi Jason,
I'm not sure I understand your response.
Just to be clear, are you saying that the ONLY reason that you do not perform inter-marriages is because the Conservative Rabbinical Assembly won't allow you to becuase of its rules and if and or when the rules change (and I do believe Conservative will allow intermarriage in 5-10 years)and allowed you to then you would officiate at intermarriages? Is that your position or did I misunderstand you?

Rabbi Jason Miller said...

Anonymous: I think you misunderstand my point. Even if the Rabbinical Assembly reversed its position and allowed member rabbis (read: Conservative rabbis) to officiate at interfaith weddings, I still would not.

I believe a Jewish wedding requires two Jewish individuals.

Thank you for allowing me to clarify.

Anonymous said...

Rabbi Miller,
Thank you for clarifying.
I believe ( and many others have theorized) that the Conservative movement will officially allow intermarriage within 5-10 years.
If this happens, do you think Rabbis like yourself who would not take advantage of this allowance would run the risk of being marginalized?

Rabbi Kerry Olitzky said...

Not sure if this discussion is about intermarriage, rabbinic officiation or co-officiation or the state of American Jewry. So let me begin with the last first. We are clearly in a state of flux and the community is changing rapidly. (Its institutions better change too or they will be increasingly irrelevant to the folks whom they are trying to reach.) BY the way, this is why we have titled the next Jewish Outreach Institute conference Judaism2030 so that we can look at what the future holds in store for us.

As for intermarriage. It is ironically a sign of Jewish success not failure. It means that we have become fully American and those of other backgrounds are prepared to cast their lot with us. And we say, "welcome.: It is about bringing Chelsea in not marc marrying out. And they are joining 1.25 million other Jewish interfaith marriages in the US, the fastest growing segment. Like it or not, it is reality and we are mandated by our tradition to welcome the stranger.

As for rabbis, they need to be in a position to exercise the same free choice as everyone else. So there should be rabbis who are willing to officiate or co-officiate and rabbis who are not willing to do so. But there need to be options available to people so that they can make the choice, as well.

Some will draw conclusions from the wedding and its many details. and we will only know who is right or wrong as this couple becomes a family and makes choices in their own life.

But I know one thing. If the Jewish community isnt there to welcome them in, then their choice will be much easier to make--and it will be our loss.
Rabbi Kerry Olitzky
Jewish Outreach Institute

Anonymous said...

I am a christian without a capital C, who somehow stumbled across this blog. I am utterly horrified by the intolerant nature of some of the comments posted here. If one of my children were to marry a Jewish person, I would be most concerned with their solidity as a couple, their devotion to each other and to the care of their children. I would not seek to impose my own religious views. Do I gather this is the wrong attitude?

eclipse said...

So much of this seems to be about children of the marriage. But what if it's clear there will be no children--for example, an intermarrying couple either beyond childbearing age or a couple that doesn't plan to have kids?

cermak_rd said...

I don't think it's fair to refer to Reform Judaism as an exit ramp for Judaism. For me, and many others it's an on-ramp.

At my local Temple I have found a friendly, welcoming community that celebrates Shabbat and doesn't make fun of those who have to read from transliteration for a while to participate. Perhaps the couple should seek out a Reform congregation if other branches wish to keep their doors closed to them.f

Rabbi Jason Miller said...

cermak_rd: Just to be clear, I didn't say Reform Judaism was an exit ramp, that was one of the anonymous comments above.

Anonymous said...

To Whom It May Concern,
Marc and Chelseas nuptuals were a "shande for the goyim" as my Bubbe would say. I find it unfathomable that a Jewish man who was raised in a Conservative house would marry a "shikseh" under a chuppah on a Shabbos while wearing a kippah and a tallis. Where is Tevye when we need him?

Anonymous said...

Marc came from a Conservative Jewish home, yet he had the chutzpah to marry Chelsea while standing under a chuppah, donning a yarmulkah and having the 7 blessings recited. If that wasn't bad enough, the ceremony was performed on Shabbos. The Mazal Tov that we need to say is not to Marc and Chelsea. It is to the American Jewish populace. We have become so ignorant that we've outdone Hitler! Perhaps we should be protected as an endangered species.

Anonymous said...

G-d made the first 10 rules. Man made the rest up.

I was born and raised Jewish, by a mother who was not of Jewish blood but by a Father who was; whose entire family was exterminated in the Holocaust. I identify with Judaism, I consider myself Jewish by blood, and that's because no matter how many ways you argue it, Jewishness is a part of my ancestry. I was raised Jewish, was Bat Mitzvah'ed, and have gone to Temple all my life. But according to some, I'm not considered Jewish. And yes, I am marrying a gentile, and yes we will be married by an interfaith Rabbi, and yes we will raise our children Jewish. What does any of it matter, as long as there is G-d in our life and that we respect, cherish and acknowledge our traditions and beliefs? Doesn't it all ultimately come down to G-d? Go ahead and judge, but I know ultimately it is not about your judgment of me but about my love for G-d, living my life as a good person by following the 10 commandments and passing it down to my children. Being Jewish isn't just a religion, but also a culture, and I will not let any of you sit here and tell me that myself and my children are/will not be considered Jewish- Jewish blood is in us whether you like it or not.