President-elect Donald Trump’s daughter and son-in-law, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, are synagogue shopping in D.C. — and it’s making headlines in the Jewish world and out.
Reporting this in the mainstream media requires some explanation — an MSNBC anchor apparently believed the story was about Trump shoe shopping — but generally the narrative touches on a few key points: The majority of Jews in the United States voted for Clinton — and what does this mean as the first daughter and her family look for safe Washington space to daven and raise the kids in the faith?
And wait — at synagogue we leave politics at the door, right?
Aaron Keyak, a congregant at Kesher Israel, the downtown Orthodox synagogue reportedly topping the list for Kushner and Trump, is a Democratic operative who helped run an anti-Trump political action committee. He’s been telling whomever will listen that the new top Jewish power couple will of course be welcome at Kesher.
“You have to be able to enjoy herring and schnapps with your political opponents when they’re standing next to you at Kiddush,” Keyak told JTA.
But after speaking with Keyak, I had some doubts. And on reflection, having been a Jewish congregant and parent in the D.C. area for 16 years — and also, admittedly, one with 16 years of experience gossiping with other Jewish congregants and parents in the area — I got to considering how Panglossian this gloss is.
No one wants politics inside the synagogue. But honestly, in D.C., considering how deeply embedded our political outlooks are in our belief system, who are we kidding?
I’ve heard of several instances where tensions over national politics have reached the complaining-to-the-Sunday-school-principal level. Seriously. (Consider: An adult whose weekday job involves advancing an ideology – or who is married to someone with that mission – spends hours each week exchanging thoughts with 5-year-olds about God and leading a meaningful existence. What could possibly go wrong?)