Ya'aqov Shenkin

Trumpism And The Threat To Orthodoxy

Donald Trump listens as Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein of the Chabad of Poway, Calif., speaks at the National Day of Prayer Service Thursday, May 2, 2019, in the Rose Garden of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour)

In light of the predictable Trump victory at the Iowa caucus, it is a good time to take a deep look at the Orthodox Jewish relationship with Donald Trump, the Republican Party and American Conservatism.

In 2021, 75% of Orthodox Jews in the United States identified with, or leaned towards, the Republican Party. (Pew, 2021) This is a stark shift from 2013, where 57% of Jews identified with, or leaned towards the Republican Party. (Pew, 2015)

One might assume that this trend is explained by the Republican party shifting to values more compatible with Orthodox Judaism since 2013.

The prime moment for demonstrating such a shift in values by the Republicans should have been most profoundly demonstrated at the moment of a Republican presidency: between 2017 and 2020 when Donald Trump was at the helm. And yet, one does not see a shift towards Orthodox Jewish values, but rather a stark shift away from them.

And so, the affinity of Orthodox Jews is baffling.

Why Jews who are commanded “If there be among you a poor man… open thy hand wide to him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he lacks.” (Dvarim 15:7-8, Translation adapted from Koren) can honestly put their support behind the man who prioritized the wealthy and neglected the poor in his economic policy (TPC, 2017; EPI, 2017) is baffling.

Why Jews who claim to care about the ‘unity of Eretz Yisrael’ can honestly put their support behind the man who fronted the 2020 ‘peace’ plan, attempting to normalize a large jigsaw-cut Bantustan in the middle of Eretz Yisrael is baffling.

Why Jews, descended from those who waged war against their own brothers on behalf of a rape victim, and who constantly stress the sanctity of women, can put their support behind a rapist (Relman & Haroun, 2023) and long-time friend of Jeffery Epstein (Reinhard et al., 2019), is baffling.

It cannot be said that Orthodox Jews who support Trump do so as a result of their Orthodox values. Indeed, it seems many proclaimed Orthodox Jews are merely American Conservatives who wish to validate their beliefs via the aesthetics of Judaism. In the inaugural year of the Trump presidency, a whopping 42% of Modern Orthodox Jews happily admitted to their lax observance of Taharath Mishpaha and even 36% admitted to their heretical denial of the Torah’s Sinaitic origins. (Nishma, 2017) These people still identify as Orthodox, however, because Judaism and Orthodoxy, to them, is the aesthetic, but the values are American Conservatism. They will happily contradict Jewish teaching to align with American Conservative values, whilst desperately seeking validation for such views somewhere in the chain of Jewish tradition, and sometimes outright ignore that which does not please them, and chant loudly and praise and proclaim the virtues of areas of Jewish philosophy that do overlap with American Conservatism. They will run Judaism’s holy dedication of a separate and sacred role for women through a perverse filter to justify their hatred for women; they will misunderstand the commandment of charity, and twist and corrupt it to justify the hatred of the poor so fundamental to the American Capitalist.

Why has this become the case? Why is this accepted amongst the Orthodox public?

The ‘qellipa’ (“shell”) of Trumpism and American Conservatism has been adopted by Jews for the same reason an orange adopts its own shell. The orange peel protects that which is truly valuable from insect and microbial invasion. This indeed is totally necessary for protecting the orange whilst it is still developing on the tree. However, the shell does not protect the orange, once picked, from moisture that inevitably seeps in, and causes the orange to mould and rot. And for one to consume the fruit, they are required to remove the shell. American Orthodox Jews inherited the fear of ‘woke ideology’ from their Evangelical Christian counterparts and adopted Conservatism as a mode of guarding against the invasion of this imagined movement, but their Conservatism has not warded off the inevitable rot, and it continues to hide the true Torah that could be exposed, should we shed this ridiculous shell.

In November 2022, the Satmar Rebbe in Kiryas Yoel, Rebbe Aharon Teitelbaumshlit “a strongly warned:

“Trumpism has infiltrated the Jewish camp and twisted so many minds. Everyone with common sense understands this. Why do people think otherwise? The answer is incitement and brainwashing. Incitement by Trumpists. When we think of Trumpism, it is so antithetical to Judaism and it infiltrated our Jewish camp by a gang of hacks who raised their heads. Those who are connected to WhatsApp as opposed to Torah – that’s where it’s coming from. They are spreading incitement and are unfortunately successful in brainwashing large parts of our communities. People can’t think straight because of it. It’s very painful.”

What the Satmar Rebbe correctly identifies is the cause of this shift: the increased prioritization of, or as the Rebbe describes it, “connection to”, Western sources, like “WhatsApp” as “opposed to Torah.”

I know that I myself am an owner of a large WhatsApp group and TOI blog promoting political commentary despite my heavy lack of both Torah and worldly knowledge. In the spirit of the Satmar Rebbe, my plea to the reader is equally not to connect with me or any other commentator, but rather with the words of the prophets, of the Gedolim and of the Torah when adopting their political ideology. Perhaps then we will see less Jewish support for openly wicked people.


Pew Research Centre (2021). U.S. Jews’ political views | Pew Research Center. Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project.,their%20political%20views%20as%20conservative.

Pew Research Centre (2015). A portrait of American Orthodox Jews | Pew Research Center. Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project.


EPI (2017) Employers would pocket $5.8 billion of workers’ tips under Trump administration’s proposed ‘tip stealing’ rule.. Economic Policy Institute.

Relman, E., & Haroun, A. (2023, May 9). The 26 women who have accused Trump of sexual misconduct. Business Insider.

Reinhard, B., Helderman, R. S., & Fisher, M. (2019, August 1). Donald Trump and Jeffrey Epstein partied together. Then an oceanfront Palm Beach mansion came between them. Washington Post.

Nishma Research (2017) The Nishma Research Profile of American Modern Orthodox Jews

About the Author
Ya'aqov Shenkin is a British-Israeli Jew residing in Jerusalem with a passion for Jewish history, Jewish politics and Torah knowledge.
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