WASHINGTON — As they prepare to move to the nation’s capital next month, President-elect Donald Trump’s Jewish daughter and son-in-law are also on the hunt for a new synagogue.
Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are interested in joining the famed Kesher Israel in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, according to Politico.
The Modern Orthodox shul is known for its prominent members, including Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew and former US senator and vice presidential nominee Joseph Lieberman. It also played a major role in former New Republic literary editor Leon Wieseltier’s memoir of his father’s death, “Kaddish.”
Members of the temple believe theirs is the frontrunner because of its close proximity to the White House, prestige, and history of welcoming famous congregants.
When Lieberman became Al Gore’s running mate in 2000, requiring a secret service detail, Kesher was able to keep things kosher. They worked it out so members wouldn’t be forced to break Shabbat by walking through metal detectors, instead having security use magnetic wands — doing, as Politico put it, “the work that observant Jews couldn’t.”
It appears unlikely the power couple will join another large Orthodox synagogue in the District, Ohev Shalom, as its senior rabbi was escorted out of the 2016 AIPAC Policy Conference for screaming during Trump’s speech.
As Trump was addressing the crowd, Shmuel Herzfeld exclaimed, “This man is wicked. He inspires racists and bigots. He encourages violence. Do not listen to him.”
It is also possible they may join the local Chabad chapter or trek out to DC’s Maryland suburbs.
The president of Kesher Israel, Elanit Jakabovics, told Politico she was not at liberty to discuss whether the future first children had inquired about membership. “I can’t say whether they have contacted us or not,” she said. “Congregant interactions are private.”
Despite the political orientation of the majority of the American Jewish community — 71 percent of US Jews voted for Trump’s Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton, with only 24% backing the former reality television star, according to an exit poll conducted by The New York Times — members of Kesher have said they would fully welcome the new Washingtonians.
“I can tell you unequivocally that Ivanka and Jared and their family will be welcomed at Kesher Israel,” DC consultant Aaron Keyak told The Washington Post. “We’re there to daven [pray] and live a Jewish life together, not to re-litigate the election.”
During the campaign, Keyak managed the day-to-day operations of the pro-Clinton, anti-Trump Super PAC Jews for Progress.
Since 2014, Kesher has been immersed in controversy. In June, its former senior rabbi, Barry Freundel, pleaded guilty to secretly filming a women’s changing room at the shul’s mikvah, or ritual Jewish bath. He is now serving a six-and-a-half-year sentence on a number of voyeurism charges.
The community is still looking for Freundel’s replacement, and many of its worshippers are said to be eager for another source of publicity.
While it is not yet clear what kind of roles Kushner and Ivanka will play in the upcoming administration, and how precisely they will work around anti-nepotism laws initiated in the 1960s, the transition team has indicated they will remain close advisers to the president.
Before they married in 2009, Ivanka underwent a rigorous conversion process under the tutelage of Rabbi Haskel Lookstein at the Upper East Side’s Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun.
The couple — who observe Shabbat and keep kosher — now live on Park Avenue with their three children, the youngest of whom, Theodore, was born in March.
People close to Adas Israel Congregation, the largest Conservative synagogue in Washington, told The Post they had inquired about sending one of their children to preschool there. They are also looking at Jewish Primary Day School of the Nation’s Capital.