Saturday, October 17, 2009

Ivanka Trump and her conversion came up at the Shabbos table..

So, the person who had me over for Friday night dinner had just got up to speed that Rabbi Haskell Lookstein of Kehillath Jeshurun (KJ) converted Ivanka Trump. We discussed this before on the blog. She's not dressing tznius. Someone put pictures that had been taken post conversion up on the comments for this blog and they were a slap in the face of the Jewish concept of tznius. Some people at the table said, "well, the other girls at KJ aren't tznius, either." Perhaps, this is true, but, someone converting is supposed to be held to a higher standard.

So, I'm just wondering if anyone still has an opinion about this?


  1. There is definitely something to it, but it is so for people becoming citizens in countries as well. A natural born citizen of a country will almost never need to prove his loyalty and patriotism, while new citizens, and those applying for citizenship, will have to prove their loyalty - they will have to know more, if they are involved in suspicious activities that the country might consider problematic their petition might be denied, etc.

    So to start out with, I would say yes. But once they have become Jews and are accepted, than they should be treated like everyone else.

  2. I am just amazed at what kind of Lashon Harah this is. It is one thing to whisper Lashon Harah to a neighbor or a friend - but on a BLOG!!!! I am wondering what is worse, dressing in a skirt four inches above your knee or speaking as cruelly and inappropriately as you are in such a public forum?

  3. Conversions have always been made easier for those with a lot of money, for pregnant kibbutz volunteers, etc., than for those who are serious and sincere. Then many of those in charge turn around and decide to be extremely machmir with the sincere candidates to make up for it.

  4. I realize that this is a very sensitive issue to you. you are concerned that people will not take converts seriously and thus that would reflect on how people view you. but i think you are being judgmental and hypercritical of ivanka nad other converts whom you think are not living up to a higher standard. a convert has to accept the commandments of judaism at the time of conversion, but that does not mean that if certain mitzvot are as of yet too challenging to take on, they are slapping the commandment in the face. judaism is a lifelong process and everyone has to go at their own pace. you do not know what is in the heart of any other jew. focus on your own growth and forget about slandering other jews.

  5. It's not that they're held to a higher standard, we're all supposed to observe the mitzvot. However, for a convert it's a condition on being a valid conversion. People who were born Jews are also supposed to observe the mitzvot, but it's conditional on their Jewishness the way it is with a convert.

    So if you see a convert who immeidately after her conversion is clearly not, you have to question her motives to convert in the first place. If she had no intention to keep mitzvot, then it could invalidate her converstion.

    This is my understanding. I'm not a rabbi, nor do I play one on TV.

  6. I absolutely agree with you Michal. Ivanka's "conversion" is a joke. The way Ivanka dresses is not the only reason. The "conversion" was done only for the reason of marriage and it was speeded up so that Ivanka and Jared could get married this year. I don't know how any can think that Ivanka's "conversion" was valid.

    Ivanka never writes about anything related to Judaism on her Twitter account. What is she ashamed of? It seems that Ivanka is uncomfortable writing about Judaism because she hardly knows anything about it.

    In an interview with "Nightline" Ivanka claimed that she didn't "convert" to get married to Jared but now she's marrying him. Give me a break! What's the difference. Ivanka is so transparent it's ridicoulous.

    I can't believe people like your friends who make excuses for a woman who obviously is not sincere about being Jewish. Ivanka should be held to a higher standard. It's a slap in the face to real converts who've had to jump through various obstacles to be accepted as real Jews. Ivanka "conversion" is an insult to real converts.

  7. It's not lashon hara. Someone who is is a public figure, is just that-a public figure. No one cries lashon hara when I blog about the president and say he's not doing a good job. Ivanka chooses to continue to dress like a prostitute after her conversion full well knowing that her picture will end up on the internet. Do you know that if someone tells a room full of a certain amount of people information and they don't say, "this is private," it is considered public information and it can, at any time be repeated. This is the halachah. Her life is already public. The way she dresses is already in front of the public. The fact that she married right after converting is already public. It's not lashon hara.

  8. "It's not that they're held to a higher standard, we're all supposed to observe the mitzvot. However, for a convert it's a condition on being a valid conversion."

    You misunderstood me. I'm saying that some CONVERTS are held to a higher standard than other converts.

    As for the person who pointed out the marriage... Sometimes they aren't converting for marriage and they aren't sincere, either. I actually overheard a girl verbally trashing Judaism one time motzei Shabbos. She did not convert for marriage. Yes, the rabbis converted her.

  9. "Sometimes they aren't converting for marriage and they aren't sincere, either. I actually overheard a girl verbally trashing Judaism.... Shabbos. She did not convert for marriage. Yes, the rabbis converted her"

    Wow, that sounds like an incredible amount of wasted time and effort for nothing. This girl could have gotten Red Cross Lifesaving Certification in the same amount of time and gained a useful skill.

    I'm the cynical "anonymous" above who pointed out that bad conversions are easier to get certified than sincere ones. It's easier for a cynical candidate to game the system than one with his heart on his sleeve.

    As far as someone converting being held to a "higher standard", 25-plus years have passed since my own conversion, and I have to say I no longer know what defines that "higher standard". I have gotten so sick of those who would define growth in Yahadut as a detatchment from anyone who isn't part of a certain group, or by a willingness to pursue external "kedusha" on someone else's tab or worse, with their blood.

    That, by the way, is the faction most likely to retroactively "invalidate" conversions. I watch my husband and sons sacrifice years and safety in the IDF, I watch my daughter spend her senior year sleeping in a tent with her classmates so the Gush Katif refugees can sleep in their dorms. I bandage the wounds of the victims of terror attacks, I count and remember the dead, go to the funerals and make the shiva calls, and yes, I keep praying shacharit and making Shabbat and Pesach and saying tehillim for us all.

    I find it more, not less difficult, to feel achdut (unity) with those Jews who define their observance by obscurantisn, isolation, and shnorring, while regarding the rest of us as their Shabbos goys.

    As to Ivanka Trump (and more importantly, her children), time will tell.

  10. "...the other girls at KJ aren't tznius..."

    And you know what? They CAN'T "be tznius" because צנעות is a NOUN, not an adjective. I can't see how they, or anyone else, could be expected to "be modesty".

  11. Anon 1, good comments, please and thank you.

    Anon 2, many of them do not act or dress in a tznius manner. There, you happy? It's a borrowed word and this is really how many people use it in English, right or wrong.

  12. Michal--I'm also Anon 2. "Tznius" used in colloquial English as an adjective is simply incorrect. It's greenhorn yeshivish Yinglish, and it's not consistent with proper use of the word in any language.

    "Many of them do not act or dress in a tznius manner" What you mean is "in a tzanua" or "in a tsniyuti" manner. "Tzniusdik", being a Yiddish adjectival form, would also be an improvement.

    Yes, I know how many people use the word in English, it's just that I think gerim should be held to a higher standard of grammar (and I'm saying this only partly in jest). "עברי, דבר עברית!"

  13. "And you know what? They CAN'T "be tznius" because צנעות is a NOUN, not an adjective. I can't see how they, or anyone else, could be expected to "be modesty"."

    I take it you get a rush out of pointing out other people's grammatical errors, but you might be interested in learning that these women can indeed "be tznuos". Only two letters different and the phrase does indeed mean "be modest".

  14. DRESS MODESTLY... ya happy? Ooops, I said "ya" instead of "you." I'm not up to grammar standards.

    The fact is that Lookstein was VERY outspoken about the RCA standards. He said they were too strict. So, then he goes and takes on this high profile conversion and spits is out in about 10 months knowing full well that people will know it was a quickie. This isn't about Ivanka. This is about Lookstein lowering the standards for political reasons and ignoring halachah in the process. Yes, I know, my grammar was clumsy. Sue me.

  15. Ladies, it's not about the grammar. The fact is, as gerim, we do not have to ape greenhorn Yinglish in order to prove that we belong. You want to speak Yiddish, gei gezunteheit, but adapting incorrect pidgin English just don't cut it. Hebrew is the source. Hebrew is the language of the Torah, the language in which the world was created. It holds the very essence of Yahadut (If you want, you can call it "Yiddishkeit", that's definitely a noun).
    Using Hebrew, KNOWING Hebrew, seeps into your very bones. We need to be careful who we emulate. Much blood, toil, tears, and sweat have been spilled to make this particular key to Jewish identity available to you. Use it.

    As regards Ivanka, I agree with you, it sounds like Lookstein screwed up big time. The Ivanka case will be used to hurt some other sincere candidate who is not a millionaire socialite, mark my words.

    I am in favor of making standards more flexible in cases where the candidate takes steps to be in a fully observant, fully Jewish environment. Ivanka hasn't. I think we owe our Israeli Russian immigrants, who are here anyway ["Here" is Eretz Yisrael. Everywhere else is There], who will be a part of te fabric of Israeli life anyway, and who have served or are serving in the IDF, more accessibility and patience than potential converts with no affiliation with Am Yisrael. Ivanka doesn't fall into that category either.

    I AM a ferocious ideologue, ladies, but it ain't about the grammar. As a former classmate of mine once put it, "It DO be mean sum' too".

  16. It's a tough crowd, Michal. But you can hold your own. (AK)

  17. It's interesting.

    I know that Sacha Baron Cohen's wife (Borat) converted too. I think it was also for marriage.

    She was the actress in Wedding Crashers.

    Someone I know saw them in a kosher restaurant in LA, and apparently, she has frummed out a bit, dressing more tznius and covering her hair even.

    I'm not sure how true all that is, but that is what I was told.

  18. It's not so much the conversion for marriage that I think is bad. It's the conversion for marriage, don't care about being observant-just-let-me-convert-so-I-can-marry conversion for marriage that bothers me.

    I wonder who this Sacha Baron Cohen's wife converted under. The RCC (Rabbinical Council California) is supposed to be very difficult.

  19. I think you all miss the point. Ivanka's husband is not obeserving at all, he was eating withher and others in none kosher restaurants.
    How can you expect Ivanka to be changed.

    But in many cases a converter can influence her husband and becoming more frum. We never know, time will tell.
    Ivanka is a very smart talented woman and I I am sure she knew what she is doing.
    About modest dresses; indeed we might expect her to be more modest. But look at other none religious women, are they modest?
    Sure enough if Jared was a real orthodox, observe shabbos, she will have to be in the same level.
    I heard that after the Chupah Jared removed his Kippah. It supposed to be an orthodox wedding.
    So what can you expect from Ivanka?

    But again we never know, if the children will go to a Jewish school parents might chane too.
    It is too early to judge them.

  20. Sasha and his wife were at services for the High Holidays at a local synagogue in Los Angeles this year. My father-in-law sat right next to him.

  21. "But look at other none religious women, are they modest?"

    She claims she's religious. After all, she WAS converted Orthodox.

  22. Ivanka Trump is a brilliant, beautiful, intelligent woman. She is also a very sincere, careful, mature and thoughtful person. She would never convert without being serious about it. Also, so is so smart, that a year and a half of study for her is like 3 years to an ordinary person. Ivanka would definitely follow a Modern Orthodox lifestyle if Jared will. It is all about Jared, if Jared is willing to introduce her to frum friends from his Yeshiva days and from Shul, and help her to learn more deeply about Judaism.

    It is Jared Kushner who is the problem. If, if Jared is going to take her to Non-kosher restaurants, and to vacations where they eat out non-Kosher, and IF he doesn't keep Shabbos and doesn't go to shul, then it will be JARED who would be to blame for corrupting Ivanka. If Jared is going to take Ivanka in a car G-d Forbid on Shabbos, or Bike riding, then i will have NO respect for him at all.

    Jared, please don't forsake your Yeshiva background. Jared, please don't let down such a good natured, kind, pure Neshama like Ivanka. She deserves a good Jewish role model in her husband.

  23. Now that she has been converted, it's her responsibility, too. Also, if she was converting for marriage his observance was supposedly considered. However, RCA doesn't hold to their own GPS conversion standards.

  24. I give Ivanka so much Kudos for having the Frum wedding that she had, even with her non-Jewish famous family and famous friends present. She is an amazing, fantastic girl.

    Ivanka Trump is a smart, girl who does not do things on whims. She is responsible and down to earth- very Batampte, as they say in Yiddish. Her whole life proves that she would never make this commitment to Judaism lightly.

    Jared seems to be a very nice guy, and also responsible. There is a concept of not putting a "michshal lifnai Iver", which a Torah prohibition. So Jared has to be careful of this because as the FFB, he has the responsibility not to lead astray the new convert.

    The Torah states specifically how we must treat converts well, we are commanded to do so. Some of the nasty comments are clearly transgressing this torah requirement.

  25. Was the wedding frum? The wedding dress wasn't.

    She didn't do it on a whim. She did it for marriage. What about her life proves that she would never make a commitment lightly? The parties she goes to?

    What are you basing your statement on that Jared seems nice? Besides which he can be nice without marrying someone who got a conversion for marriage.

    It's Torah not torah. Yes, the Torah states we're supposed to love the convert but, is someone REALLY a convert if they are eating traif right after the conversion?

  26. Excellent response Michal! Ivanka definately converted for marriage and didn't do it on a whim. Everyone conveniently forgets that Jared split with Ivanka for a few months precisely because she didn't want to convert. Ivanka only went through the "conversion" because it was quick, easy and of course to get married to Jared.

    The way Ivanka dresses, presents herself convinces me that she's not serious about Judaism. I recently heard that Ivanka used Twitter on Shabbat. I'm not a Twitter user so I don't know it it's true but it wouldn't surprise me.

  27. it makes one wonder about the conversion considering she tweets that she"Just left dinner at the Standard Grill...sampled more desserts than was absolutely necessary' and in another interview at said "Brunch with my girlfriends. Jean Georges located in Trump International Hotel & Tower New York is my number one choice.”

    perhaps she eats dairy or food that is not inherently kosher

  28. You should all be ashamed of yourselves. No matter what she wears, eats or whom she marries it is unimaginably difficult for ANYONE to defy the traditions with which they were raised (even if the extent of those traditions was an annual trip to the mall to sit on Santa's lap) for themselves LET ALONE for the person they love. Who are any of you to judge her commitment? Has any of you had the guts to stand up to your family, to the public, or your critics to do something so life-altering? You're all gross.

  29. Honey, I'm a convert myself. Another thing I don't think you understand is the Jewish religion doesn't support people converting for marriage but continuing in their old ways. As long as she doesn't dress Orthodox, she didn't change. How did she change?

    Have we had the guts to stand up to our family to make a life-altering change. Well, my family's dead but, I had plenty of co-workers who had something to say about it. I'll bet they didn't make anti-semitic comments to Ivanka at the office.

  30. Ivanka tweets about having dinner with Mayor Blumberg, and also going to another restaurant which is not kosher.
    Her conversion can be easily removed, In Israel they do it.

  31. I agree that Ivanka's conversion should be revoked but it won't happen because it's all about money and political connections. It's obvious that Rabbi Lookstein did the express "conversion" because Ivanka's a Trump and the Jared's a Kushner. The "conversion" was a joke and everyone knows it.

    Ivanka just twitted a Happy Chinese New Year to everyone but she never tweets anything about the Jewish holidays. It's obvious Ivanka is uncomfortble with identifying as a Jew because she knows she's a fraud.