The sabbath is upon us and i suppose you are playing board games or spending quality family time in your spacious abode in Washington while little insignificant me is sitting writing surrounded by books spilling out of white packing boxes ready to exit Europe..just like my ancestors but with less haste, it took me some time to actually follow through-
As i head towards the holy land, i consider what many there thought were the footsteps of the Messiah heard through the promises of your father, the echos of his speech to the American Israel lobby, promising to support the Jewish state, and indeed he did appoint an ambassador that had began by blasting the UN for sweeping aside such dire situations as in Syria only to again and again point the finger towards Zion .
I must admit that i had my doubts when i watched your daughter Arabella reciting poetry in Chinese as to how committed you truly are to the Jewish cause, culture and heritage..since orthodox jews usually being to teach their children Hebrew alpha bet rather than Chinese , but then again jewish orthodox schooling begins very early, at around three years old, i just found my own daughters album from those early years, the scribbling of letters, the photos sitted next to yarmulka wearing little boys and girls in long sleeves and i recalled my wondering how a person who defines herself as ORTHODOX does not follow the rules of orthodox jews to dress modesty, with long sleeves, skirts way past the knees, and the men can be seen wearing yarmulkas most of the time, because that is the line that the orthodox draw, they actually follow a lot of rules and especially regarding their children’s early learning experiences so why you chose Chinese as your daughter’s first language, is a mystery to me, though not without practical applications in the business world.
My own children had an early start in the Jewish education system and a teenage break from anything to do with the religion and some to do with food and holidays occasionally though my family situation is very different than yours, if a poster appeared depicting my family it would be blank. a white wall, at the moment, or the dog but then again , you do not own a dog, do you ?
I am not writing to criticize you, because i am not your judge, it is just that the few years my children attended an orthodox school exposed me to that life style and i wonder in which universe you define yourself as such and in which universe your father plans to step on more jewish toes than he has; he has for the very first time made an holocaust announcement omitting the jews, he had banned refugees entering the US from the worst war since world war two on international holocaust memorial day, and the list will no doubt continue , so help me with this one, Ivanka, you seem so compassionate as you whisper your messages to the world ; introducing to one audience after another the man you claim your have loved and respected your entire life; what is it exactly that you love and admire in a man whose actions so far have not only led people to spontaneous mass protest but has caused many people all over the world anguish and sleepless nights, including myself.
wishing you and Jared and your children a shabbat of peace
unlike many around the world
seagull L. reformed mother
I’ve been wanting to write. It’s been almost two weeks since you became our first Jewish First Daughter, but as a fellow Jewish mother I thought I’d wait until the kids and nanny were settled into your lovely, new DC home and Arabella was adjusted at Jewish Primary Day School. JPDS sounds like a no-brainer! What more could we want for our children — or the kids of America for that matter — than a school, which, according to its website, is intent on “fostering a deep sense of mutual respect and pluralism” in “compassionate” students?
I have to say, you remind me of one of my closest friends – another East Coast prep school blonde who converted to Judaism (after she fell in love with a fellow med student at Yale). I remember how intensely she studied the laws and traditions of the Torah – all of those stories and holidays and prayers — for her conversion. The only way in was to be all-in. By all accounts you were, too, picking the Hebrew name Yael (“God’s strength”) and impressing the tough, three rabbi panel known as a Beit Din, along with your devout Kushner in-laws.
I, on the other hand, have non-practicing Presbyterian in-laws. Shabbat at my house is better known as “pizza night” and pepperoni is permitted. We don’t shut off our phones or refrain from using transportation like you and Jared do – unless you’ve got a special rabbinical pass for inaugural balls. Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t the Pikuach Nefesh supposed to be invoked when one’s life is in danger? For example, if you had to jump in a car von Trapp-style to escape the Nazis and it happened to be after sundown on a Friday?
There I go. Observant or not, it never takes long for us Jews to reference the Shoah does it? As a kid I sometimes pretended to be Anne Frank in our attic crawl space. I’d bring a composition notebook into a dim corner and scribble away as quietly as possible. I guess this kind of imaginative play is expected when your parents take you to visit gas chambers while you’re still in elementary school. “The world stood by and let this happen,” my father told me outside of a crematorium in France.
Somehow, even my 10-year-old mind connected that afternoon at Struthof to Bounn Hong, a refugee who escaped through the jungles of Laos and cleaned our house while she learned English and saved up for cosmetology school. Hers was the shared story of my ancestors who fled pogroms in Poland and your husband’s survivor grandparents. I haven’t committed many biblical quotes to my mostly secular memory, but I do know this one: We were all strangers in Egypt.
I’m guessing you’re pretty aware that the fact your dad’s Muslim Ban was decreed on Holocaust Remembrance Day struck a ton of American Jews as egregious. Some said the timing was purposeful – kind of like the weird omission of the word “Jew” and the number “six million” from the Remembrance Day statement.
I’ve heard you’re well aware the Internet scoffed when, after the sun fell last Saturday, you powered up Instagram and shared yourself in that shiny silver dress en route to the Alfalfa Club (an organization so frivolous it was named after a plant that “can’t get enough to drink”). The problem was, what with the detentions and protests unfolding, your image bore the image of indifference; the kind of indifference Elie Wiesel meant when he wrote: “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.”
Ivanka, mom to mom, citizen to citizen, me (reform Jew) to you (modern-orthodox Jew), I am writing today to ask for a sign. Send me a sign that you are not, in fact, indifferent. That when you see a photo of a dead Syrian toddler washed up on a Greek beach you share my visceral understanding: he could be my child. That you subscribe to the Talmud’s teaching “(S)he who saves one life, saves the world” along with Hillel’s question you tweeted in September, “if not me, who? If not now, when?”
Because I do want to believe – to paraphrase JPDS Head of School and Argentinian immigrant Naomi Reem’s message – you’ve moved to Washington intending to harness the creativity you’ve shown in business, your Ivy League education and Jewish moral values for tikkun olam. Because, Ivanka-Yael-first-Jewish-First-Daughter, no Jewish American woman-who-works has ever been more powerfully positioned to help repair the present moment than you.
Hadley Davis Rierson’s television and feature film screenwriting credits include Dawson’s Creek, Spin City, Scrubs and Disney’s Ice Princess. Her articles and essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Teen Vogue and the Los Angeles Review of Books.A