Converts are Jews Too, We Deserve Judgement Too

I woke up this morning with two thoughts in my mind: 1. I really have to start making my challah so it has enough time to rise. 2. Donald Trump is being inaugurated today. The first thought brought me less anxiety than the second but only slightly less.

Scrolling through Facebook before I dragged myself out of bed, I came across a Forward article amidst the dozens of cat videos and Obama posts. This article about Jared & Ivanka didn’t get my attention at first because I honestly didn’t believe I had read the title correctly.

Further down my Newsfeed I saw someone had posted comments on the same article and the halakhic argument involved. I thought, “What are these people talking about? How in the world is it pikuach nefesh or karov l’malchut to go to the inauguration balls?”

I eventually read the article and went to grab coffee before I read through some more comments on a friend’s post. Scrolling again I came across  this response which actually managed to upset me more than the Forward article did.

The author writes about how annoyed she is at seeing people comment on the Orthodoxy or lack thereof of Ivanka specifically, “because this is not how we should treat someone who volunteered to join our ranks”. She goes on to say we shouldn’t criticize her adherence to halakha because “…it’s not really any of my business, or yours. It’s hers and G-d’s.”

Anyone who is at least acquainted with me would think that I would completely agree with this author and that I wouldn’t even think of criticizing Ivanka and Jared on this issue, but none of that is true.

Ivanka is a convert so she is already on a different level than her dear hubby Jared because she chose to be a part of this wacky tribe of ours and that’s cool, really it is. However, when Ivanka decided to be a part of our holy tribe she also made the decision to be a paragon of Jewish values to show our non-Jewish neighbors the righteousness of our G-d.

Furthermore, she and Jared both chose to get involved with Donald Trump’s campaign and are choosing to be involved with his presidency. They could have decided to be more like Tiffany Trump and be a bit more hands off but they didn’t and that’s nothing anyone can judge them for. But, when Ivanka and Jared decide to take such a public role and do that while professing to being Orthodox Jews they then get judged like the rest of us when they publicly break Shabbat.

I don’t feel bad for Ivanka because she’s a convert. Maybe we’re supposed to welcome her into the tribe with a great big bear hug while singing Kumbaya but the time for that would have been a couple years ago when she converted and not several years after the fact.

So I’m sorry Ivanka but you’re going to get judged by strangers just like the rest of us. You’re going to have people comment on your tzniut and your hair covering and your kashrut and all sorts of nonsense just like people do to me, your fellow convert. You’ll develop a thick skin but you’ll also develop a stronger sense of self because of it and you’ll have a lot more in common with your FFB friends because of it. Heck you’ll have something in common with my friend who was criticized for shaking Pope Francis’ hand and she’s a cool person to have something in common with.

One more thing Ivanka, its’ not too late to turn this whole thing around and decide to walk to the ball instead. I mean think about not only the kiddush Hashem but also the great opportunity to show off those gorgeous shoes you design. I’m just saying, no one can see your shoes from inside the limo.


About the Author
Leah lives in New York city with her husband and two kittens. She is a graduate of Stern College and is pursuing a masters degree in Jewish Education at The Davidson School.
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