Photo: Avshalom Levy
Aliza Lavi
Photo: Avshalom Levy

Chelsea Clinton's bridegroom

Problem of mixed marriages is not a religious matter, but a national one

Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of one of the most prominent families in American politics, has chosen a Jew for a husband. The groom-to-be, Marc Mezvinsky, is the member of a family of businesspeople and politicians. Further proof that Jews can be found in the very center of the American establishment: The former president and the current secretary of state will be the in-laws of a Jewish guy.


With all of our appreciation and very long friendship with Bill and Hillary Clinton, and despite the fact that the latter's image serves as a role model to many women across the world – we could look at the same story from an opposite angle, and we should be concerned by it.


A guy from a Jewish family enters a mixed marriage. There is no sign that Chelsea Clinton plans to convert to Judaism. And perhaps Marc, like many of the Jewish members of his generation, is marrying the woman he loves without asking questions which are seemingly obsolete.


Bill and Hillary Clinton are true friends of Israel and the Jewish people. When Hillary spoke, as first lady, on the Yitzhak Rabin Memorial Day, she began her address with quotes from the weekly Torah portion. Few Israeli politicians do so. By doing this, Hillary demonstrated an intimate closeness to the Jewish people and their heritage. During the battle for the restoration of Holocaust victims' property from banks in Switzerland, it was Hillary who recruited Bill to the effort for the sake of historic justice. But nonetheless, our children cannot marry the Clinton family.


The number of mixed marriages in the Diaspora has increased by 200% in the past 50 years. About 55% of all Jews' marriages are mixed ones. In one-quarter of families, the children of the next generation will no longer be Jewish, and at best will have a loose connection to their Jewish roots. A look at the future shows that within a number of generations, American Jewry will nearly disappear, excluding its religious and haredi part.


There are limits

Some may say I am old-fashioned and racist. Some may say, "Do you really think we have the right to interfere?" And there are those, like one of my friends, who said that that the differences between young people today are so small that she herself did not realize that her daughter had gotten engaged to a gentile until she attended the wedding of the groom-to-be's brother, which was held at a church.


My response to these claims is: Yes, there are limits. The Jewish people's power of continuity and survival throughout the generations are concealed, among other things, in maintaining marriage within, and only within. Assimilation and mixed marriages destroyed entire communities even before the Holocaust.


Judaism, as opposed to Christianity and Islam – is not a missionary religion. It does not seek to increase the number of its believers, not by persuading and definitely not by using force. But it is also not a closed religion which people cannot enter. Those who wish to join can do so, under the conditions of Jewish Law. Those who wish to marry a Jewish man or woman can convert. People do even more difficult things for love.


Unfortunately, this appears to be an almost lost battle among the Jewish community in the United States. But at least in Israel we must cover these mixed marriages accordingly. More restraint and less color, headlines and pictures. At the same time, we must work to appoint rabbinical judges with the sensitivity and understanding of present needs, who will allow those wishing to do so to convert. The mixed marriages problem is not a religious matter, but a national matter. It's not the interest of religious people. It is the interest of Jewish Israelis, who may lose their children in favor of other religions, other people and other nations.


פרסום ראשון: 01.01.10, 13:05
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