Suddenly everyone is wondering (not that it's any of our business) whether Chelsea Clinton is going to convert to Judaism prior to her wedding to NJB (Nice Jewish Boy) Marc Mezvinsky. Don't believe it? Give a kuk (take a look).
A blessing on their head, mazel tov, mazel tov. And, for the groom's parents -- Edward Mezvinsky and the lady with the euphonious, jump-rope-rhyme name of Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky -- such a daughter-in-law, like virtually no one has ever seen. We're all very excited, but we're also concerned.
We know that thanks to her illustrious parents and her well-connected future in-laws, she will have available to her an unlimited array of first-rate, top-notch role models, instructors, and guides to teach her what it means, in some respects, to be a Jew. The range of experts to which Chelsea will have access is immense; the curricula in which she may be instructed embraces everything from the most serious (Elie Wiesel on mortality and guilt) to the most lighthearted (Woody Allen on mortality and guilt).
The future Mrs. Clinton-Mezvinsky will have available to her the wisdom and knowledge of everyone from Ruth Bader Ginsberg to David Lee Roth, from Sasha Cohen to Sascha Baron Cohen, from Steven Weinberg (physics) to Max Weinberg (drums) to Senator Loretta Weinberg (state Senator, NJ Dist. 37). She'll even enjoy zero degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon himself: his wife Kyra Sedgwick is (astoundingly, since we're talking about a woman who is, let's face it, Mrs. Bacon) Jewish.
All of these estimable people will be able to instruct Chelseleh in the usual standard, classic lessons of Judaism: the blessing for the candles on Erev Shabbat (Friday night, when the Jewish Sabbath starts); what a mezuzahis ; what to put on the Seder plate and why; how to sing the Hebrew alphabet to the tune of Ha Tikva; etc.
But those are only the official traditions and rules of Judaism, the lessons and principles available to anyone, Jewish or not, willing to open up Dummies book. Sure, her teachers will be illustrious, but we're afraid their lesson plans will lack certain essentials.
How will the poor girl obtain instruction in the more esoteric Ways of the Hebrews? To whom -- or to what -- can she turn to learn, for example:
• How to be passive-aggressive
• How to deliver a back-handed compliment
• How to not accept the first table you're shown to at a restaurant
• How to hondle
• How to overpack
• How to order Cantonese
Without adequate grounding in such essential arcana, Chelsea Clinton-Margolies-Rodham-Mezvinsky runs the risk of becoming not so much a converted Jewess as a tourist, a visitor to Judaism who, no matter how warmly welcomed and sincerely embraced (which she will be), will always feel just a bit out-of-place when surrounded by the natives at whatever lovely Bar Mitzvahs and Mah-Jongg groups and synagogue productions of Damn Yankees she will be obliged to attend.
If only there were a single work -- a book, say, due to be published (by Plume) in the next two weeks -- to which she could turn for such instruction. A book that not only reviews many of the older (Late Bronze Age) lessons in, for example, using the Bible to tell whether your wife is unfaithful, but also more contemporary essentials, such as how to make and serve too much food. In other words, a big Jewish book for Jews.
Can there possibly be such a thing? If so, someone, Jew or non-Jew, should get one into the young woman's hands a.s.a.p. If there were such a thing, we would say: Don't go frum (pious; observant) without it.
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