Skip To Content

BINTEL BRIEFI’m thinking of sponsoring a kiddush to celebrate Trump’s indictment. Is that wrong?

A reader seeks a — potentially controversial — outlet for their glee

The Forward has been solving reader dilemmas since 1906 in A Bintel Brief, Yiddish for a bundle of letters. Send us your quandaries about Jewish life, love, family, friends or work via email, Twitter or this form.

Dear Bintel,

Would it be appropriate to sponsor a Sabbath kiddush at synagogue, or perhaps a study session there, in celebration of Donald Trump’s indictment?

Not My President

Dear Not My President,

You are not the only one celebrating the news that a Manhattan grand jury has indicted the former president; a large portion of Twitter is gleefully roasting Trump and glorying that — finally — a charge seems to be sticking.

Nevertheless, while you know the makeup of your particular synagogue best, I’m not sure a celebratory kiddush is the right idea. The kiddush after Shabbat services is generally seen as a lighthearted place to schmooze, a casual, open-conversation place to warmly welcome new people and connect with old-timers over a schnapps or a schmear. While many synagogues do invite members to sponsor kiddushes, it’s usually to mark life-cycle events or milestone achievements, not to express your political opinions.

There are probably at least a few Trump supporters, even if you’re not aware of them, who would feel isolated by such an event. How would you feel if Trump is eventually exonerated of these charges — which appears totally possible — and your political rivals hosted a celebratory kiddush?

Even people who hate Trump might have complicated feelings about the indictment — maybe, instead of feeling joyful, they’re more worried about the future of our country or our international reputation. Not exactly fodder for a “l’chaim” toast.

But I think the study session is an idea with legs. It’s a little more subtle, you know? It will give you, and others in your community, an arena in which to air some feelings — whether they are glee or confusion or horror — without a banner and balloons. After all, politics are inextricably linked to religion, despite the division of church and state that our Constitution enshrines, and they are important topics to discuss. And this kind of study is a great way to actually engage people with Torah, and keep Jewish tradition relevant. A win-win.

Structure your study session as a forum to connect Judaism to current events, and bring some texts that feel relevant to Trump’s indictment. They’re not hard to find.

Start with this week’s parsha, Tzav, which begins in Leviticus 6. It talks about sin and guilt offerings of a slaughtered bull; there’s plenty of meat (pun intended) for discussion of Trump’s misdeeds and atonement, or lack thereof. And in the haftorah, Jeremiah warns that sacrifices without true atonement are not enough. I feel absolutely certain that you and your study partners will have some strong thoughts about how Trump has handled responsibility for his actions, whether with Stormy Daniels or Jan. 6 or during COVID-19.

Or you could explore the story of David and Batsheva. In it, David commits adultery and rapes Batsheva, and then attempts to cover it up, ultimately arranging for Batsheva’s husband to be killed. Confronted by the prophet Nathan, David then admits guilt and prostrates himself before God, accepting his punishment. (Ultimately, God forgives him.)

The first part sounds pretty familiar, no? Trump’s indictment, after all, is a result of paying hush money to Daniels, a porn actress who says they had a sexual encounter. Still waiting on the whole admission of guilt and penitence bit, though. Discuss!

Want to talk about Ivanka’s seeming attempt to distance herself from her father’s misdeeds since Jan. 6, a trend that appeared to continue with her bland Instagram statement about his indictment? Well, David’s kids weren’t all that close with him either — Absalom literally waged a war against him. Get into it.

Just remember to cede the floor to whoever else wants to air their opinions, too. Even if they love Trump.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.