As a candidate he was shunned by most of the Jewish community, yet Trump has surrounded himself with a small but loyal group of Jewish supporters, donors and confidants.
For those celebrating and for those protesting, here are a few Jewish moments to look for on Inauguration Day.
Who will be there for Trump?
Jewish supporters and friends are expected to fill the front rows reserved for special guests on the steps of Capitol Hill. Clearly, the numbers won’t match those of a Democratic president, but given Trump’s rocky relations with the Jewish community, it will be an impressive show of support. They’ll include, of course, daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner, who will stand alongside the incoming first family; top appointees for senior administration positions, including Steve Mnuchin, David Friedman, Jason Greenblatt and Jewish donors and backers. RNC finance chair Lew Eisenberg will be there, as will mega-donor Sheldon Adelson, who spent almost every evening this week alongside Trump at receptions and dinners. Adelson’s Vegas neighbor Steve Wynn, who’s among the major funders of the inauguration committee, will also be present.
Who will not?
Absent from the inauguration will be at least five Jewish Democratic members of Congress who decided to boycott the ceremony. “I decided I didn’t want to be associated with the inauguration of someone who has been so contemptuous of civil liberties,” said New York’s Jerry Nadler, who will not attend the event. He will be joined by Steve Cohen, John Yarmuth, Jan Schakowsky and freshman Jamie Raskin. But other Jewish lawmakers, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and former DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, will be there to watch Trump take the oath of office.
Will Trump mention Israel?
Traditionally, inauguration speeches don’t tend to go into specifics of policy and diplomacy. But Trump is anything but traditional, so a shout-out could be possible. The issue of recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moving the U.S. embassy to the city has taken on a life of its own. With settler leaders sitting in the audience, and a warm welcome video from the mayor of Jerusalem, a quick mention of the holy city could be just what Trump needs to get his Jewish supporters rallying.
How will Ivanka and Jared spend their first Shabbat in Washington?
Never before has there been such a high-profile Jewish member of the first family, and an inauguration day that ends just before Shabbat begins will reveal much about Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner’s life as observant Jews in Washington: Will they be served kosher food at the congressional lunch and inaugural balls? Where will the couple go for their first Shabbat service in D.C.? Will they walk to the inaugural balls or make use of the rabbinic pass they were reportedly granted and ride a car there?
Who are the new Jewish political elites?
There is no better opportunity to visualize the shift in Jewish political power than during Trump’s inauguration ceremony and surrounding festivities. If Trump campaign events are any indication, expect way more yarmulke-wearing Jewish participants and hardly any of the familiar Jewish organizational figures that had once dominated Jewish politics. The new Jewish political elites ready to take on their role did not rise through the ranks of Jewish organizations and federations, and are rarely affiliated with these institutions. But they will win front0row seats and coveted inaugural ball tickets that once would have gone to establishment leaders.
Nathan Guttman staff writer, is the Forward’s Washington bureau chief. He joined the staff in 2006 after serving for five years as Washington correspondent for the Israeli dailies Ha’aretz and The Jerusalem Post. In Israel, he was the features editor for Ha’aretz and chief editor of Channel 1 TV evening news. He was born in Canada and grew up in Israel. He is a graduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Contact Nathan at email@example.com, or follow him on Twitter @nathanguttman