Religion Magazine

Assimilated Jews Doing Mitzvos

By Gldmeier @gldmeier
For the first time ever, the Second Family's residence (ie the residence of the Vice President) has a mezuza on the doorpost. To remind you, Vice President Kamala Harris is married to a Jew - Doug Emhoff.
Emhoff is obviously an assimilated Jew - he is intermarried and from what I understand his first wife was also not Jewish - but he identifies openly as a Jew and is proud of that identity in his way. He is obviously not Jewish in the orthodox way, and I dont find it fruitful to judge Reform Jews by Orthodox standards or unaffiliated Jews by orthodox standards. Meaning, when a Reform Jew is pictured laying tefillin, for example, Orthodox Jews will often scoff that he or she does not even know how to put on tefillin as the placement is wrong. As if Reform Jews have to follow Orthodox law rather than Reform law or custom or do what they want when there is no Reform law. My point is Emhoff identifies as a Jew, even though he does not practice according to Orthodox standards.assimilated Jews doing mitzvos
Many non-Orthodox Jews, whether Reform or Conservative or other, affix a mezuza to the door of their home - some might only do the front door and not every internal door, but a mezuza they affix. For many it is part of the Jewish identity, even if they don't keep much else.
So Doug Emhoff and his wife VP Kamala Harris had a ceremony to affix the mezuza on the entrance of the Second Family's Residence. An historic moment in some sense. Perhaps even somewhat of a kiddush hashem as he proudly declares his affiliation to Judaism from nearly the highest podium in the world, despite the increasing polarization and increasing hatred and open antisemitism.
In today's world of polarization and extreme opinions, and the need to feel angry online about anything and everything, I was still somewhat surprised to see religious Jews angry about this. People were scoffing about it likely not being a kosher mezuza. People were angry that they are two-faced ultra-liberals but putting on a mezzua and doing something Jewish (as if Jews cant be liberals). People were upset that this is just a political ploy on the back of Judaism. People were upset that someone who clearly cares so little about Judaism was putting on this show as if he feels so Jewish. People were upset that they borrowed the mezuza from the Reform temple rather than buying their own mezuza - they can't afford a mezuza? they have to borrow one? (I admit I did think that was weird, but I dont really care). People even got upset that the Rabbi called it a Temple (they borrowed the mezuza from the Temple).People were upset that they made this into a ceremony with a Rabbi and other notables attending - who turns the fixing of a mezuza on a door into a big ceremony? (Well, besides for every store and business and public building in Israel with the local newspapers publishing pictures of all these mezuza ceremonies of new businesses that opened recently)
Basically, people like to get upset at anything and everything.
I must say I am sad to see so many people feel this way. In my opinion we should applaud any connection to Judaism and God a Jew has, especially an assimilated one. And halevai we should all do everything so lesheim shamayim, with such pure intent, that they demand of this assimilated Jew.
That is beside for the fact that it is very common for even Reform Jews and other types of denominations far from orthodoxy to have a mezuza on the house. They dont need my permission or your permission, or our approval, to follow their own customs and put the mezuza on the house. Emhoff probably has a mezuza on their private house as well (though I have no personal knowledge if they do or do not) and I see noting unusual or "two-faced" about this. He is Jewish and he is liberal (as are probably about 75-80% of American Jews). 
I think Doug Emhoff did a good thing, even if it isnt done the Orthodox way and even if it wasn't with perfect intentions (though we have no way of knowing this)
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