Ending the Year with Another Celebrity Intermarriage

News broke today that actress Natalie Portman, just nominated for a Golden Globes Best Actress award for her starring role in Black Swan, is pregnant and engaged to Benjamin Millipied. We found out in a blog post from our friend Rabbi Jason Miller, who asks, Is Benjamin Millipied Jewish? I haven’t seen a definitive answer to that question; if Rabbi Jason is correct that Mr. Millipied is not Jewish, then this could be the next celebrity intermarriage to get a lot of attention.

It’s an interesting way to end a year that saw perhaps the most popular interest in any intermarriage ever, that of Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky, and intimations that another intermarriage that will attract tremendous public interest may be coming, for Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan.

For me the importance of these weddings and relationships is that if the couple makes Jewish choices, that may influence many of the non-celebrity, regular folks couples to think about doing that themselves. So I was glad to read an ABC News report on an earlier interview where Portman said “A priority for me is definitely that I’d like to raise my kids Jewish.” I’ve been a fan of Israeli-born Portman for a long time, and recall other interviews where she has discussed her Jewish involvement. Whether it turns out this is or isn’t an intermarriage, we’ll send her and her fiancé an early Mazel Tov!

*****

For more news on Jewish and intermarried celebrities, see Nate Bloom’s Interfaith Celebrities.

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3 thoughts on “Ending the Year with Another Celebrity Intermarriage

  1. Ed,

    First of all, a happy & healthy 2011 to you and your family!

    I know you don’t like to hear this but even if Natalie Portman’s fiance doesn’t convert, for many Jews it will be less of an issue than in the case of Marc Mezvinsky and Chelsea Clinton.

    Portman’s children will be considered Jewish, Mezvinsky’s will not (short of conversion).

  2. Jason,

    Happy new year to you and your family too — and I always like to hear what you have to say. Can I offer this editing of your comment though? “… even if Natalie Portman’s fiance doesn’t convert, it will be less of an issue than in the case of Marc Mezvinsky and Chelsea Clinton because for many Jews, Portman’s children will be considered Jewish, Mezvinsky’s will not (short of conversion).”

    It’s important for our readers to know that for many Jews, Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky’s children will be considered Jewish, if they are raised Jewish, even without conversion.

    Best,

    Ed

  3. “For me the importance of these weddings and relationships is that if the couple makes Jewish choices, that may influence many of the non-celebrity, regular folks couples to think about doing that themselves.”

    So far, Clinton/Mezvinsky have not made any specifically Jewish choices – they have made dual-faith choices.  That is a critical difference.  The only choice that we know about is the wedding – the wedding included a tallis, a version of the ketubah and sheva brachot and a rabbi; it also included a minister, Christian ritual, and took place on Shabbat.  That is, it blended Judaism and Christianity together.

    They have pointedly (and probably wisely) not shared what their religious practices are beyond the wedding – so we only have the wedding to go on.  And although it’s always possible that they could choose to create a Jewish home in the future, that is not currently what the wedding suggests.  A dual faith home, particularly if kids enter the picture, is not the kind of “Jewish choice” that the Jewish community can celebrate.  If their life mirrors their marriage, then that would mean the children get both brit and baptism, Hebrew school and church school, etc.  Again, I’m not saying that is what they will do.  But that is essentially what the marriage was.  Although it would be great if celebrities would make Jewish choices that others could follow (and there are many who already have), I don’t believe that a Jewish/Christian wedding is a choice worth emulating.

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