During the early days of the pandemic, Jared Kushner apparently received rabbinic dispensation to work late into Shabbat, Vanity Fair’s Katherine Eban reported —
A meeting between White House officials and entrepreneurs, business executives and venture capitalists took place on Friday March 20, according to the report.
“The meeting began at 6:30 p.m. Kushner is an observant Jew and normally wouldn’t work during Shabbat, which ended at 8:00 that evening, but a ‘rabbinic dispensation’ allows him to make exceptions for matters of public importance, according to a senior administration official.”
(The article claims “Shabbat ended at 8:00 that evening” — it in fact started at seven o’clock that evening, in Washington, D.C.)
Vanity Fair reported that the meeting did not end up focusing on a government plan, as participants anticipated. Instead, Kushner insisted that “the federal government is not going to lead this response, it’s up to the states to figure out what they want to do,”and that the “free markets will solve this,” according to attendees’ recollections. He also said Cuomo hadn’t handled the pandemic properly, and New York State’s citizens would suffer for it.
This is not the first time that Kushner - who has an Orthodox Jewish background - has allegedly received dispensation to work on Shabbat.
According to Jewish law, using electronics, and driving or riding in cars, is prohibited on Shabbat. But the principle of pikuach nefesh, allows for Shabbat to be broken only in potentially life-threatening situations.
In October, he spent a Shabbat working on the campaign in the Trump Tower, when the Access Hollywood tapes were released.
In January 2017, Kushner and his wife Ivanka Trump were permitted to travel in a car from the presidential inauguration. Mark Zell, chair of the Republican Party in Israel, told Kol Brama radio in Israel at the time that the couple had been granted special permission by a rabbi to use a vehicle because of safety concerns.
In May 2017, he and Ivanka were permitted to fly on Air Force One to Saudi Arabia, joining the president on a whirlwind trip around Europe and the Middle East.
In her book ‘Women Who Work,’ Ivanka Trump described her family’s Shabbat observance. “From sundown Friday to Saturday night, my family and I observe the Shabbat,” she wrote. “During this time, we disconnect completely — no emails, no TV, no phone calls, no Internet. We enjoy uninterrupted time together and it’s wonderful. It’s enormously important to unplug and devote that time to each other. We enjoy long meals together, we read, we take walks in the city, we nap, and just hang out.
Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt is the Life/Features editor at the Forward. She was previously a New York-based reporter for Haaretz. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Salon, and Tablet, among others. Avital teaches journalism at Yeshiva University’s Stern College for Women, and does pastoral work alongside her husband Rabbi Benjamin Goldschmidt in New York City.
Jared Kushner got rabbinic pass to work Shabbat due to pandemic. Did he make good use of it?