By Lloyd Graff
Chelsea Clinton married Marc Mezvinsky Saturday night. Why should I care?
I care because Chelsea is American royalty. She just married a Jew, and not a plain clothes Jew or a hidden heritage Jew like John Kerry, but a practicing one. For better or worse, I grew up seeing everything through a Semitic lens.
Bernie Madoff was a colossal thief, but worst of all, he was a Jewish thief. I cared that Scott Feldman won 17 games for the Texas Rangers last season because he was Jewish. I voted for Al Gore in 2004 because Jewish Joe Lieberman was the vice presidential candidate.
For my generation of post World War II Jews, life is about proving Hitler did not win in his effort to exterminate us. The phenomenal success of Jews in America during the last 50 years in business, politics, science, the arts, academia etc. and the amazing ascendance of Israel despite being surrounded by militant enemies affords me great pride.
When Elena Kagan is confirmed for the Supreme Court she will be the third Jew on the Court. To most of America, she’s another New York liberal woman, if they care at all, but to me she is an MOT—a Member Of the Tribe, which makes her important. I keep score and I always will.
My acute sense of Jewish success in the U.S. scares me. I wonder when the next wave of jealousy and resentment will pop up like a mushroom. Personally, I am ashamed of my Jewish brethren at Goldman Sachs, whose cynicism and greed helped bring on the economic collapse of 2008. I am surprised that the resentment against Wall Street has not morphed into overt anti-Semitism and that the Tea Party movement has stayed away from “blaming the Jews,” which was common during the Great Depression.
When I heard the title of the new Steve Carell movie was “Dinner for Schmucks” I feared it was Hollywood turning on the Jews, but now I think I’m just ultra sensitive about the topic.
I have taken a chance to write about my Judaism and my Jewishness in this blog. It may be risky for business reasons, but to my surprise I have felt very little pushback for it.
This country has changed in my lifetime—for the better. Chelsea Clinton was married under a chuppah, the canopy traditionally used in Jewish weddings, by a rabbi and a reverend, and the traditional Jewish Seven Blessings were read. It wasn’t that big a deal in the press. The father of the groom was a congressman. He has been in jail and married a congresswoman. But who keeps score anymore?
Question: Do you pay attention to the religions of famous people?