The rabbi who converted Ivanka Trump to Judaism has reportedly denied giving the first daughter and her husband Jared Kushner, both Orthodox Jews, rabbinical approval to fly during Shabbat while accompanying US President Donald Trump on his first trip overseas.
Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, who heads Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, is said to have told Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog that speculation he granted the couple the rabbinical dispensation was “fake news.”
The Yedioth Ahronoth daily quoted Lookstein telling Herzog he has not been in touch with Ivanka for “several weeks,” and that the information was false.
Lookstein’s denial came after a White House official said that the two had received a rabbinical dispensation to join the president aboard Air Force One as he set off to Saudi Arabia on Friday for the first leg of his inaugural overseas tour, Politico reported. The report did not name the rabbi who offered the approval.
In addition to flying on Shabbat, Ivanka and Jared were also seen riding in a car around Riyadh on Saturday as they were ferried to meetings around the Saudi capital.
Jewish law does not permit traveling on the Sabbath except in life-threatening cases.
Though it was claimed several times in the past that Ivanka and Jared received rabbinic permission to break Shabbat, the White House has never stated which rabbi gave them the dispensation.
In January, Marc Zell, the chair of the Republican party in Israel, said a family spokesperson told him the couple had received a special dispensation to use a car to reach inaugural events after the onset of Shabbat.
However, he told The Times of Israel he did not know which rabbi had made the ruling.
In October, Kushner spent part of a Shabbat huddled with his father-in-law and other advisers amid the fallout from a scandal in which Trump was heard making lewd comments about women, according to The New York Times.
Ivanka Trump, who converted to Judaism before her marriage to Kushner in 2009, described her family’s Shabbat observance in her new book “Women Who Work.”
“From sundown Friday to Saturday night, my family and I observe the Shabbat,” she wrote. “During this time, we disconnect completely — no emails, no TV, no phone calls, no Internet. We enjoy uninterrupted time together and it’s wonderful.
“It’s enormously important to unplug and devote that time to each other,” she wrote. “We enjoy long meals together, we read, we take walks in the city, we nap, and just hang out.”