Was a Rabbi at Mark Zuckerberg’s Interfaith Wedding?
Mark is Jewish. His wife is not. Was Judaism a part of his wedding? Was a rabbi there? I hope so. Many in the Jewish community see interfaith marriage as a grave threat. The media has already picked up articles decrying Zuckerberg’s decision. I see it differently, and that’s not only because my wife works at Interfaithfamily.com.
Interfaith couples deserve full and unremitting support by the Jewish community. This approach is right, effective, and consistent with our values. Here’s what we need:
- A reality check: A few years ago, the Pew Research Center released a report concluding that Many Americans Mix Multiple Faiths. Interfaith marriage is as normative among liberal Jewish communities as it is in America overall. To pretend this is not true denies reality.
- A change in mindset: As Stanford Professor Carol Dweck points out in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, people generally respond to new challenges in one of two ways. Those with a “fixed” mindset see their abilities and skills as unchanging and immutable. Those with a “growth” mindset see their skills as growing and changing through new experiences.Those with a fixed mindset tend to avoid new and difficult challenges because they fear failure. They believe their toolbox won’t be adequate for the new project. Those with a growth mindset embrace them, seeing new challenges as opportunity to enhance and sharpen their skills.The fixed mindset thrives “When things are safely within their grasp. If things get too challenging … they lose interest.” Those with a growth mindset “don’t just seek challenge, they thrive on it. The bigger the challenge, the more they stretch.”
The challenge before us is bringing interfaith families into the organized Jewish community. To meet it we need a growth mindset that stretches our hearts and heads.
We cannot rely on a mindset that sees identity as fixed and conversion as the only option. We need a growth mindset that sees Jewish identity as continually finding new forms of expression and commitment. We need a growth mindset that urges us, to use the famous motto of Apple Computer, to think different.
- Open minds and open hearts: A wedding ceremony is an opportunity to create a Jewish memory at a critical moment in a couple’s life. It is a chance to welcome a couple into the Jewish people with open arms and open hearts. It is the last area where we should seek to impose an obstacle.
Rather, we can see every wedding as an opportunity. We have an opportunity to welcome two people and a future family into our midst without judgement or reservation. The Jewish people will become more diverse, more dynamic, larger and immeasurably enriched.
Rabbi Evan Moffic serves as rabbi of Congregation Solel in Highland Park, IL. He loves synagogues and the way they bring together members of every generation to study and experience Jewish wisdom and tradition.
Originally posted at Simple Wisdom