Although the couple is not Jewish, Cameron Diaz and Benji Madden held a wedding with Jewish themes and traditions. Many consider their wedding a mockery of Judaism.
Cameron Diaz and rocker Benji Madden were recently married. They had a Jewish-inspired wedding, and, though they are not Jewish, they stood beneath a chuppah, recited the 7 blessings, smashed glass and spent time together in yichud. Their wedding sparked a flurry of mixed emotions in the Jewish community, from joy to anger. Many could be found accusing Cameron Diaz and Benji Madden of “making light of sacred Jewish rituals,” or even calling their wedding a “shanda.” Others felt it was a signal that Judaism had become aspirational, something people can join without ruining.
What is the Issue With Cameron Diaz and Benji Madden Having a Jewish Wedding?
According to Elissa Strauss, a contributor to The Jewish Daily Forward, there is a real problem beneath the uprising anger over Cameron Diaz’s wedding. When asked on her opinion of it, she felt torn. Part of her felt that the ritual “is open to those who take meaning from it,” yet the other part felt “how meaningful can such rituals be” for someone who is not connected to the history, community, or values.
Ms. Strauss claims that the question should be “whether [they] are guilty of the separation between ritual and tradition and, if so, whether that matters.” She feels that it does, and Cameron Diaz and Benji Madden are guilty of that separation. Her identity as Jewish goes beyond religion, and that, in a world where a majority of people are “spiritual, but not religious,” Judaism needs to be properly taught to others before their symbols become assimilated into fashion accessories.
When it comes to one’s spiritual identity, there is trouble in making your own terms. When one makes their own system, they become the center without a community, without tradition. “Without other ideas or people to keep us in check, such religionless spirituality can easily devolve into a form of hedonism,” wrote Strauss. She wants to bridge the gap between individuals by bringing Jewish education back with a lower bar for entry and an “anyone is welcome” philosophy.
Her idea stems from a recent retreat to experience a revival of Jewish life in Europe. The group that participated signed The Glämsta Declaration and wanted to return the house of study as the center of the community, and have it open to anyone. Educating others on the tradition, history and creativity of the Jewish culture will allow them to see for themselves what it is really all about.