First daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner are in the midst of the timeless Jewish tradition of “shul shopping” - the painful process of finding the right synagogue when moving to a new town.
And for the Modern Orthodox couple about to relocate soon from New York to Washington D.C., there aren’t that many options.
According to Politico there is already a clear front runner in the race: Kesher Israel in Georgetown, a synagogue whose pews have been occupied by many Orthodox Jewish politicos, most famously former senator Joe Lieberman.
Kesher, as it is known by congregants, offers a big attraction for congregants who do not drive on the Sabbath and on holidays - it is conveniently located in the heart of Georgetown, one of Washington’s most prestigious neighborhoods, and not far from downtown and the White House, where Ivanka’s dad will be living after January 20.
It was infamously home to Rabbi Barry Freundel, who was convicted of peeping on dozens of women in the synagogue’s mikvah. The congregation is currently led by interim rabbi Avidan Milevsky who is also a professor of psychology.
Kesher’s president Elanit Jakabovics would not comment on the possibility of having the Trump-Kushner family join her synagogue, stating that “congregant interactions are private.”
If the couple does join, they’re bound to face some awkward moments given the synagogue’s liberal-leaning congregants. Some of them, such as columnist Leon Wieseltier and former Obama ethics czar Norm Eisen, have spoken out publicly against Donald Trump.
The Trump-Kushner couple could also look at a couple of other Modern Orthodox synagogues the DC area has to offer, but these, including Ohev Sholom and the Kemp Mill synagogue, will require moving to the outskirts of town.
Nathan Guttman, staff writer, was the Forward’s Washington bureau chief. He joined the staff in 2006 after serving for five years as Washington correspondent for the Israeli dailies Haaretz 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.
Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner Zero In on Kesher Israel as Washington D.C. Synagogue