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Stop frum-shaming Ivanka

Mock her gown or hair if you must; criticize all the Trump policies you want; but insulting her Judaism is just plain wrong

Today, my Facebook newsfeed is filled with all things inauguration. Blurbs about people attending, watching, not watching, boycotting, crying, celebrating.

I get how polarizing this transition of power is, as we collectively hold our breaths while this most wild card of a president takes power.

And, in the interest of full disclosure, I will tell you that I didn’t vote for him.

But there is something unexpected I keep seeing about the inauguration that is paining me greatly:

The Frum-Shaming of Ivanka Trump.

Many of my friends are sharing an article that explains that Ivanka has received a special dispensation from her rabbi to attend the inaugural festivities in a car on Shabbat, in the name of safety.

And then many of those sharing the article go on to mock her, denigrating her religious commitment, questioning in a condescending manner whether she should be attending the festivities at all, even sarcastically criticizing her clothing as “not tzniut.”

By and large, these comments are coming from “modern” friends and family who make their own decisions as to how to blend Halacha and modern life, as so many of us do.

I say: Stop frum-shaming Ivanka, whether you agree with her father’s election or not, and whether you think she’s upholding the tenets of Orthodoxy or not.

Because this is not how we should treat someone who volunteered to join our ranks. This is not “welcoming the convert.”

I have never heard Ivanka claim she is the paragon of Orthodoxy. I have only ever heard her talk about the beauty of Shabbat as family time and the importance of religion to her family. She seems to be gifting her children a Jewish education and if the articles present the facts correctly, she has chosen a home for her family based on its proximity to a synagogue. Her kids will likely have siddur parties and Hanukkah extravaganzas and be the Shabbat Imma and Abba just like yours and mine. And the fact that she asked a rabbi for a “heter” shows she cares enough to try to work within Halacha to figure this whole thing out.

But in any case, it’s not really any of my business, or yours.

It’s hers and G-d’s.

So criticize any policies she or her husband or father effectuate, and if you must, love or hate her inaugural gown or jewelry or hairdo.

But let’s not mock her Judaism, because that would be the true shame.

About the Author
Jessica Levine Kupferberg is a writer and former litigation attorney. She made aliyah from La Jolla, California with her family during Operation Protective Edge in July 2014 after driving across America. She blogs for the Times of Israel and her work has appeared in the Jerusalem Post,, The Jewish Journal, The Forward, Jweekly, and as part of Project 929 English, and as part of anthologies about aliyah and Covid-19.
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