Erica Brown

Dear Ivanka

First of all, I just want to say that I own a pair of your shoes, and they are fabulous — as was every outfit you wore on the campaign trail. You are certainly going to raise the fashion standards in D.C. Maybe we can finally retire those stiff Washington pantsuits for women. But enough of the girl talk. We’ve got business to do.

Some say the biggest threat to democracy is the average voter, but I still feel proud to live in a democracy and will always honor the office of the president. I’ll admit, I was crushed by the fact that a woman did not become president. This does not mean a woman will not be president soon, but it’s another four years of the XY chromosome on steroids. I had qualms with the woman who ran, but Hilary was competent, even-tempered and experienced. I do not feel the same way about your father. This has been an existential struggle. As a teacher, I feel duty-bound to help bring people of different opinions to the same table from a posture of curiosity rather than judgment. This election has tested that, but I remain committed to it nonetheless.

Right now, it feels like we’re living in two Americas and maybe two Jewish communities. We’re a small people, and we need each other. Here’s where you come in. Ivanka, we welcome your commitment to be Jewish with open arms. We need more smart and tall Jews like you. No doubt you know that Jewish life is more than community, family and ritual. It is also about lived virtues. One of our foundational values is kindness to the stranger. That began with the first Jews and has been with us ever since. So help me understand how it is that your father has not taken a stand against the hate crimes and slurs that were directed against your people of choice and others? My mother, like yours, was an immigrant to this country. How then could your father not say a few words of appeasement to immigrants who are now so afraid? He has won. Is that not enough of a victory to start building bridges? Let him utter a few words of comfort and healing.

Please talk to him. He listens to you. (And tell him to shut down his Twitter account.)

Mayberg Center for Jewish Education and Leadership George Washington University


Read more from this section:

Dear Kadosh Baruch Hu (Rabbi David Wolfe)

Dear Rabbis and Jewish Leaders (Rabbi Elie Kaunfer)

To Rabbis And Jewish Leaders (Steven Bayme)

Dear Ivanka (Erica Brown)

Dear Rabbis And Jewish Leaders (Dov S. Zakheim) 

Second Thoughts; Post-Election Views From Jewish Leaders Part 1

About the Author
Dr. Erica Brown is the Vice Provost for Values and Leadership at Yeshiva University and the director of its Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks–Herenstein Center. Her latest book is Ecclesiastes and the Search for Meaning (Maggid Books).