WASHINGTON — Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump and her Jewish husband Jared Kushner — often cited by those who wish to downplay accusations of anti-Semitism in the Trump campaign and validate the candidate’s commitment to the Jewish community — once separated, three years into their relationship, because Ivanka was not a member of the tribe at the time.
According to a report in the August 22 issue of The New Yorker, the power couple, who met in 2005, briefly broke up in 2008 over religious differences, with Kushner, who is Modern Orthodox, pulling the plug.
“The lingering issue was religion,” the article said of the rupture. “The Kushners hoped that Jared would marry a Jewish woman… Donald Trump is Presbyterian, and Ivanka — who in the documentary ‘Born Rich’ appears wearing a necklace with a silver cross — was not what they’d had in mind.”
Kushner’s parents, Charles and Seryl Kushner, raised their children in an Orthodox environment. “The family kept kosher and observed Shabbos; the children went to religious schools,” said the piece’s author, Lizzie Widdecombe.
The breakup was short-lived, however. Wendi Deng Murdoch, then still the wife of media mogul Rupert Murdoch and a friend of the couple, invited the two for a weekend on the Murdochs’ yacht.
Shortly after, Kushner bought Ivanka a 5.22-carat diamond engagement ring and she went through a rigorous conversion process under the tutelage of Rabbi Haskel Lookstein at the Upper East Side’s Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun.
Deng, who divorced Murdoch in 2013, remains close friends with Ivanka Trump. They both vacationed in Croatia last week, with Trump hyping the excursion on her popular Instagram account.
The 35-year-old Jared is a real estate developer and owner of The New York Observer, which he, under Murdoch’s advice, purchased for roughly $10 million.
The New York Times has described him as Trump’s “de facto campaign manager,” and he was reportedly highly influential in the billionaire’s selection of a running mate. The New Yorker suggested an irony in Kushner’s campaign role in that his parents are longtime donors to Democrats, including to Hillary Clinton’s 2000 Senate campaign.
His father, Charles Kushner, once served a two-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to a series of white-collar felonies, including filing false tax returns and making illegal campaign donations.
Kushner and Ivanka Trump, who observe Shabbat and keep kosher, now live on Park Avenue with their three children, the youngest of whom was born in March.
Donald Trump referred to his then soon-to-be-born grandson in his address at the 2016 AIPAC Policy Conference, saying: “My daughter, Ivanka, is about to have a beautiful Jewish baby.”
After Trump created another round of controversy for tweeting a picture of Clinton with a six-pointed star superimposed with money and a caption that read “Most corrupt candidate ever!” Kushner sprang to his defense.
“My father-in-law is not an anti-Semite,” he said in an op-ed published in his newspaper. “The fact is that my father in law is an incredibly loving and tolerant person who has embraced my family and our Judaism since I began dating my wife. His support has been unwavering and from the heart.”
The New Yorker piece depicted the couple as apt to follow the improbable Republican hopeful regardless of his gaffes and policy proposals that have shaken the country.
“To publicly break with one’s father — or father-in-law — isn’t easy. And for Ivanka and Jared it would be more than just awkward,” the article said.
“It would be intolerable: viewed as a betrayal, grounds for banishment and reprisal. They would lose their position and their fortunes. Doing so would require acting against their own self-interest, as well as the interest of their families. And that’s not something that they tend to do.”