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Rep. Weiner, Snubbed By Muslim-Jewish Group?


(Tim Sloan -- AFP/Getty Images)


Updated, 10:35 p.m.
A new group focused on strengthening Muslim-Jewish relations has come to Washington this week to bring Jewish and Muslim power brokers in government together.

But one prominent Jewish member of Congress who wasn't invited to participate in the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding's activities is Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) -- arguably Washington's most prominent present example of fostering love across religious lines.

Weiner's recent engagement to Huma Abedin, a well-known aide to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton who is also a Muslim, ignited a press frenzy over the interfaith power couple and got the chattering classes of New York and Washington speculating on the wedding ceremony: imam, rabbi, or both?

It undoubtedly will not be Rabbi Marc Schneier officiating, even though Weiner is a semi-regular visitor to Schneier's synagogues in the Hamptons and Manhattan.

Schneier, an orthodox rabbi who is president and founder of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, tells The Sleuth he didn't include Weiner in this week's Muslim-Jewish forum because "we're trying to put forth more of an international spiritual/political movement as opposed to creating a whole new wave of Muslims and Jews seeking a... you know... any kind of romantic reconciliation."

Schneier's definition of spirituality apparently doesn't include love. He says he has no advice for Weiner and Abedin on how they should tie the knot.

"I'm an Orthodox rabbi. I don't get involved in any kind of interfaith marriages," he told us during a telephone interview Wednesday. "I'm clearly not the one they should seek guidance from."

Schneier seems to speak for a majority of Orthodox Jews on the topic of interfaith romantic relationships. As a story in The Jewish Week notes, "Observant Jews view intermarriage as religious treason."

The story quotes angry commenters on the Yeshiva World News blog saying "OY," "Hashem Yeracham [May God have mercy]," and "Never liked that bum" in reaction to the news of Weiner's engagement to Abedin.

Another commenter is quoted questioning whether the timing of Weiner's engagement announcement was "meant to coincide with the parsha in which some members of Bnei Yisroel sinned with midyanite women (in particular Zimri and Kosby) and [brought] down a plague?"

All of which may help to explain why Rabbi Scheier didn't invite Weiner to participate in his Muslim-Jewish forum this week. "We're more about spiritual and political reconciliation," Scheier reiterated. "That's very much our focus."

Adam Muhlendorf, a spokesman for the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, e-mailed us later to say that Weiner's engagement to Abedin "played absolutely no role" in the group's decision to invite Jewish members other than Weiner to participate in the Muslim-Jewish discussion. He added that invitations were sent out "months ago," before Weiner's engagement was announced. (But well after Weiner's relationship with Abedin was known.)

"We have tremendous respect for Rep. Weiner and look forward to continued warm relations," Muhlendorf said.

Weiner's office was unaware of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding event on Capitol Hill Wednesday. But Weiner spokeswoman Marie Ternes had no comment on how the congressman felt about being left out.

By Mary Ann Akers  |  July 22, 2009; 3:51 PM ET
 
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Comments

Maybe an Episcopal priest? They seem to be very inclusive lately. Or perhpas just a civil judge would be best. Anyway... I wish the couple all the best!!

Posted by: mikepost1 | July 23, 2009 9:17 AM | Report abuse

Considering the Orthodox Jews would rather not support mixed marriages, I find it interesting that Orthodox Catholics, Evangelicals, Muslims, Jews, Hindus ... the dominant leaders are all guys, who have beards or had them, like to support gun ownership, like to think they can decide all kinds of things for women, and are "purists" in that they want to keep each of their ideological nodules ... separate.
Orthodox anything will be conservative to ultra conservative, and in this case, give plenty of room for Orthodox of all faiths to claim that there is no basis for interfaith cooperation. Orthodox leaders and followers of the Jewish faith have made settlements and outposts where they want, and are generally (but not always), very unfriendly to Muslims, Arabs and Palestinians. So is it any wonder that they offer no room for settlement in Israel-Palestine?

Posted by: zennheadd | July 23, 2009 9:29 AM | Report abuse

One doesn't have to be Orthodox (I consider myself a Conservative Jew,) nor do I sport a beard, and yet I am deeply troubled by intermarriage. The lack of sensitivity to the issue of Jewish continuity is astounding. For the past 2000 years world Jewry has been decimated by Christian & Moslem Jew-hatred; from pogroms; blood libels; that culminated with the Shoah (Holocaust).To many Jews, intermarriage is another form of a Shoah, a holocaust. We can never make up for the millions of Jews murdered throughout our troubled history, therefore, as someone who cares about the future of our people; who cares about our faith, our history, our traditions, I cannot condone nor accept intermarriage as the way to an integrated future. Very un PC--but the survival of my people is far more important than the approbation and approval by Jews & Non-Jews who have a shallow understanding and appreciation of Jewish history.

Posted by: lynnsharon | July 23, 2009 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Intolerance for other faiths is often indistinguishable from racism with a more stereotypical, ethnic focus. And for good reason.... they are two faces of the same thing. lynnsharon's most revealing remark is that she thinks "the survival of HER people" is at stake. If her grandchildren should adopt a different faith, would they cease to be "her people"?

Absent coercion, religions endure, in the long run, because they have something of value to offer their practitioners, not just because children are inculcated from birth in some "ism" that exalts those born into it, and excludes others.

Judaism, in its best form, promotes life, justice and compassion, respect for others in obedience to God. On such foundations, I expect that it will endure forever.

Posted by: Iconoblaster | July 23, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

This sounds hypocritical to me.
Support closer relations and dis someone because he married out of faith.

Regards,
dePaul Consiglio

Posted by: depaulconsiglio | July 23, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

I am a Conservative Jew who is married to a Catholic man. Our children were raised as Jews. I'm active in my synagogue, and he is an usher at his church.

A Jewish marriage, by definition, is between two Jews. Therefore, what I have is considered by Jewish law to be a civil marriage. Our children are not illegitimate by Jewish law, because their father and I are not related. My husband is welcome in my congregation, whenever he wishes to attend (like for our childrens' B'nai Mitzvot).

It's not a matter of intolerance, it's a matter of religious law-- just as it would be an offense against Catholic law if I were to go to my husband's church and take communion. While obviously I don't agree with lynnsharon's conclusions, I understand and respect her feelings. For those who think she's intolerant, I ask that you learn something more about the background from which she speaks.

Posted by: dcgrasso1 | July 23, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

It simply fantastic event in today's polorized world where a lot of fuss is created by ethnically motivated clergy followed by a vast majority of people having religious faith on top of everything else in the world.The engagement of weiner and huma abidin is a very welcome occasion and would go a long way in building up cordial relationship between muslims and the jews and would also pave the way of harmonious world where human beings and not the faiths are of paramount importance.Long live abidin,long live weiner,hats off to you both.

Posted by: ilyassheikh | July 24, 2009 12:57 AM | Report abuse

Regligious rules against intermarriage is designed to keep the faith pure but in the end it does not allow the regligion a transformation, a means to grow and develop with the times...

Posted by: edmundsingleton1 | July 24, 2009 4:33 AM | Report abuse

Look at the divide between the languages

Hebrew

Yiddish

Posted by: sasha2008 | July 27, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Are these two people in love? Fantastic. The rest is a bunch of crap.

I hope they have a long and wonderful life together. And I hope their children grow up in a generation that has a far better perspective on "religion" than the current generation.

Posted by: eddie111 | July 27, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

I figure that ultimately it's up to the parents to make this choice. Tho I understand that adherants to more conservative tenets may have no choice in their beliefs either. And when the kids grow up, they can make their own choices.

Posted by: musket1 | July 28, 2009 9:52 AM | Report abuse

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