Could Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump’s traveling on the Sabbath cause trouble for Orthodox Jews in America? One group of Orthodox rabbis says so.
TORA, which describes itself as an “umbrella group of Traditional Orthodox Rabbis of America” issued a statement arguing that the flight “could lead to an erosion of the historic responsibility of employers to accommodate individual religious beliefs.”
The group noted the generations-long struggle of Orthodox Jews to secure the right not to work on the Sabbath and raised concern that Kushner and Trump’s travel on board Air Force 1 Saturday could lead employers to ask: “if the Kushners could obtain rabbinic permission for their actions, why can’t all serious professionals do the same?”
According to reports, the president’s son-in-law and daughter, both Orthodox Jews, received special permission from a rabbi to fly on the Sabbath in order to take part in Trump’s overseas visit.
TORA explained in its release that there are different levels of gravity in Jewish rules regarding the Sabbath and therefore it could be perceived, after “careful deliberation of a rabbi who is expert in Jewish tradition,” that Kushner and Trump’s travel and work on Saturday was important enough to override ordinary practice.
But, they stress, this does not imply an overall permit for all.
Rabbi Yitzchak Adlerstein of TORA’s editorial board told the Forward the statement was issued after members of the group had received accounts of Orthodox Jews being approached by employers asking if they cannot work on the Sabbath just like Kushner. He made clear, however, that “there was no criticism of Jared and Ivanka meant.”