I am shocked to report that Rabbi James Ponet, although he never calls, never writes to ME (what am I, chopped liver?) agreed to talk to The New York Times.
Don’t worry about me, Rabbi Fancy-Pants Too Good For The Jewish Week, I’ll just sit in the dark.
Seriously though, the Times article, about Rabbi Ponet’s spiritual journey, is worth a read. Gossip-seekers should be warned that it contains no fresh details about Chelsea or Marc, since Rabbi Ponet (nee Podnetsky, according to the Times) “refused to talk about the recent wedding.”
Rabbi Ponet, who grew up secular but became “enchanted by” observant Judaism as an undergrad at Yale, told the Times that he has been co-officiating at weddings with Christian clergy for about three years now. About five years ago he started becoming less traditional in his observance:
The yarmulke disappeared; he could be heard joking about eating shellfish again, as young Podnetsky had in his youth. Did he get less observant? “In the public eye,” he said. “I wouldn’t say that in the private eye. I still consider Shabbat” — the Sabbath — “the pivot of my life.”
The article also details another interfaith wedding Rabbi Ponet presided over in 2007:
Justin Ruben, the executive director of MoveOn.org, remembers nervously broaching with Rabbi Ponet the Christian elements of his 2007 wedding ceremony in Massachusetts to Autumn Leonard, whose mother is Baptist and father is Jewish.
“I remember saying, ‘What do you think about gospel music and Autumn’s mother singing the Lord’s Prayer?’ and he said, ‘That is so great!’
“And then he was talking about relationships between the texts and traditions.”
The bride’s mother sang the Lord’s Prayer at the beginning, then there was “a full Conservative Jewish wedding,” Mr. Ruben said, “but with jumping over the broom and on top of the glass, using African-American and Jewish wedding traditions.
Meanwhile, there is so much else on the Internet and blogosphere about the Clinton wedding and intermarriage that my Google News Alert is starting to overheat.
The Times has an article on Jews’ ambivalence about intermarriage, which quotes none other than my boss:
Gary Rosenblatt, editor of The Jewish Week in New York, called the wedding “a Rorschach test” that reveals “how you feel about intermarriage and assimilation.” Among many Jews who might “frown on this wedding,” he said, “there’s a secret pride — look, one of our guys.”
“Oh and by the way,” he added. “If you are interested in this topic, you really should check out The Jewish Week’s In The Mix blog and column, the ultimate source for all things intermarriage.” (Oops, the Times cut that part out from the final version I guess!)
To my amusement, the Times story leads with a man named Steven Cohn, the intermarried doppelganger alter ego of sociologist Steven “Intermarriage Is The Single Greatest Threat” Cohen.
Oh, and speaking of Jews who like to rail against intermarriage, today’s Daily News features a letter from Marc Mezvinsky’s uninvited Uncle Norton, who says:
The Clinton-Mezvinsky wedding extravaganza will almost certainly adversely affect pronouncements by many religious leaders in our society against inter-marriage.
In case you still hunger for more on Chelsea, Marc and intermarriage, you can check out this article in the Kansas City Star in which interfaith couples offer their advice to the newlyweds.
Meanwhile, I’ll be making some chicken soup for Rabbi Ponet, on the off chance he wants to call this poor neglected Jewish columnist.
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