First, let’s get this important fact out of the way. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Queens) and I are not related.
And while we both pronounce our somewhat discordant surnames WEEner, not WHYner, he spells it the wrong way. I mean, a different way.
Yes, I know you all think you know what our names mean, and believe me, I endured enough “I wish I were an Oscar Mayer weiner” jokes and far lewder teasing as a kid (not to mention a genuinely stupid teacher who earnestly asked me if I was related to the owners of a Pittsburgh hot-dog stand called Weiner World) to be familiar with the numerous undignified slang interpretations of our illustrious moniker.
But in actuality, my name means “from Vienna” whereas I think his means, according to a consultation in a colleague’s German-English dictionary, “one who cries” — pretty appropriate, given that the congressman is known for being something of a talker, to put it nicely. (A friend who actually speaks German fluently, said he's not aware of any meaning for Weiner. "I always assumed it was a misspelling of Wiener," he e-mailed me.)
What Weiner and I do share, in addition to having our names constantly mispronounced and misspelled, is approximate age bracket (he’s six years older, though), choice of borough (yay Queens), support for health care reform and … we’re both intermarried Jews! (I know, you were wondering how long into this post it would take for me to get to the “i” word.)
The congressman, a frequent guest on cable TV political talk shows and a New York mayoral hopeful, is profiled in the latest issue of Moment magazine.
The article’s focus is broader than Weiner’s intermarital status, an aspect of his life about which he has been relatively tight-lipped. Weiner and his Muslim bashert Huma Abedin, a longtime aide of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, married last summer, when we were all distracted by another interfaith wedding the Clintons attended.
Bill Clinton officiated, and the headline in the Yeshiva World News, referenced in the Moment article was: “Christian President Marries Jewish Congressman to Moslem Political Aide on Shabbos.”
I must confess I’d always thought Weiner was himself a product of intermarriage; apparently I’d fallen victim to a recurring rumor that his mother is Catholic. (We’re all tripped up by the Anthony thing. It sounds so, well gentile.)
No Julian Schnabel (although like Schnabel’s girlfriend Rula Jebreal, Abedin is glam enough to have made the pages of Vogue), Weiner is hawkishly pro-Israel, and sharing his bed with a Muslim has apparently not affected his politics.
The Moment article touches on the question of disapproval from Jewish constituents and Weiner's parents (for marrying a Muslim, not for being hawkish), with Weiner responding that:
“most people have congratulated me and chided me for how long it took me. I can’t say that never did anyone have something discordant to say, but it’s very rare. Her faith and my faith are things that are important to our identities and things that we talk about. Our faiths and our grounding in religious ideals have made us closer.”
However, he apparently didn’t want to say much more about it.
Maybe he’d feel differently if a Wiener asked him…
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