Observations on the Clinton-Mezvinsky Wedding
However, noting that a waning minority of children from interfaith marriages is being raised as Jews, Cohen cautioned that this type of marriage may not be a cause for celebration. He, like many Jewish leaders, fears the survivability of Jewish-Gentile marriages and their impact on the survival of a recognizable Jewish community in America.
Most of the Jewish observers happily remarked on the familiar cultural symbols of Judaism in the wedding. Mezvinsky wore a kippah (head covering) and a tallit, (prayer shawl) as he stood under a huppah (wedding canopy) flanked by a ketuvah (marriage contract). They were less thrilled to note that the wedding took place on a Saturday afternoon, in violation of a religious Shabbat or Sabbath.
Jacob Berkman, in his report for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, noted that a rabbi and a Methodist minister co-officiated the wedding. However, while he provided the name of the rabbi and his position with the Center for Jewish Life at Yale University, he added only that the other clergy was “a Methodist minister” without noting name or affiliation.
Clearly, for those on the groom’s side of this Jewish-Gentile wedding, there are mixed emotions. This wedding has pushed the conversation out into the open. The fact is that one in three marriages involving Jews is a Jewish-Gentile couple. And since 1985, more than half of all Jews who marry are taking Gentile spouses.2
So, what are the implications? Is Jewish-Gentile intermarriage good for the Jews or bad for the Jews?
Orthodox rabbis like Shmuley Hecht of Yale University’s Eliezer Jewish Society believes that intermarriage can only work if the non-Jewish spouse converts to Judaism through “an Orthodox conversion.”3 On the other hand, Ed Case of an organization called Interfaith Family and Paul Golin of the Jewish Outreach Institute believe accepting the marriage and extending welcome to Gentile spouses is the right approach for the sake of Jewish continuity.
We would agree that Jewish continuity is important. At the same time, we believe that faith in Y’shua (Jesus) the Jewish Messiah should be an integral part of bringing spiritual harmony into the home of a Jewish-Gentile couple.
The Methodist minister had a name, Reverend William Shillady. He represented the faith in the Jewish Jesus of the New Testament for Chelsea Clinton and her family tradition.
Jewish-Gentile couples, like Clinton-Mezvinsky, can find hope for Jewish survival and spiritual harmony together without violating Jewish ethnicity or Messianic spirituality. Perhaps that is an avenue that you would like to explore. Please contact us through this link if you’d like to find out how to do that.