Home June 2014 Chelsea’s Choice?

Chelsea’s Choice?

It was the ultrasound heard round the world: Chelsea Clinton is pregnant!
The parents-to-be might not yet know whether they are expecting a boy or a girl, but those in my circles are more interested in whether they are expecting a Jew or a Methodist.
In case you have been living under a rock for the last four years, Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky married in 2010 in a beautiful ceremony replete with chuppah, tallit, Seven Blessings … and a Methodist pastor.
It was an amazing interfaith wedding that got Jewish bloggers both kvelling and kvetching about the pros and cons of mixed marriages. For some, the union was seen as a high-profile example of how Jews are assimilating out of existence.
For others, the willingness of the bride to include these very Jewish traditions into the wedding ceremony represents an opportunity to forge a larger Jewish community that includes non-converts dedicated to raising Jewish families.
With this baby, we will find out whether the couple’s union really does mean “we’ve lost another one” or, as one of my favorite headlines on this matter suggests, “Bubba will be a Zeyde.”
To my thinking, the entire fate of the Clinton-Mezvinsky child’s religious future rests on the Jewish community of New York, where the couple lives, and the community of Philly, where Marc’s family is from.
So to them, I implore: Tone down the crazy.
Chelsea is married to a Jewish guy and lives in New York, so odds are, she is aware that we are a neurotic bunch. But until she becomes a mom, she really has no idea how nutty we can be. If she catches wind too early, we can kiss Jewish day school goodbye. So, first off, hide the old women who will insist on spitting at the pregnant Chelsea to help ward off the evil eye.
These are the same women will attempt to tie red thread around the baby’s wrists, you know, to scare off Lilith who comes in the night to steal babies’ souls. These women will freak Chelsea out.
Tell the ladies there is a sale at Zabar’s or a new Chinese restaurant opening in Queens. Anything. Just keep them (more than spitting distance) away from Chelsea. Otherwise, Marc’s synagogue can forget about a Clinton sisterhood luncheon sponsorship.
Also, hold a baby shower. Chelsea probably grew up going to them. She doesn’t need to know that we don’t hold showers because we think celebrating something before it happens somehow magically causes that thing to then not happen. She’ll find out we are a fundamentally gloomy people soon enough. Let her eat melted chocolate out of a diaper first.
Lastly, let Chelsea name the baby whatever she wants. No, Ashkenazi Jews don’t name after the living, but if Chelsea wants to honor her mother or father by naming the baby after one of them, what is the harm? So the world will have one less Aiden or Sophie in it. Big deal.
The point is, we should try to embrace this new family as best we can and help Chelsea and Marc figure out their path. If that path should be a Jewish one, all the better.

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