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The Schmooze

Who Is Elizabeth Pipko, Trump’s 23-Year-Old Jewish Friend?

On Tuesday morning, the President tweeted the following, giving as the source of his information “Elizabeth Pipko, Jexodus.”

“Jewish people are leaving the democratic party. We saw a lot of anti Israel policies start under the Obama administration, and it got worsts & worst. There is anti-Semitism in the Democratic Party. They don’t care about Israel or the Jewish people.”

Jexodus is a new organization that bills itself as the product of “proud Jewish Millennials tired of living in bondage to leftist politics.”

However, the Daily Wire reports that Jexodus was created by Jeff Ballabon, a Jewish 56-year-old who has made his career as Republican political operative.

Who, then, is Elizabeth Pipko, the 23-year-old Jexodus spokeswoman? Despite her enormous social media presence, it’s hard to say for sure.

In numerous online interviews, her own website and her bio on the Jexodus website, she is described as a longtime competitive figure skater who became a published poet and working model as an older teen, and now studies at Harvard.

“Elizabeth Pipko took a year off from minoring in mathematics at Harvard to train for the Olympics in figure skating, which makes her a certified mathlete,” an Esquire article said of Pipko in 2015.

It’s true that Pipko is a model — she signed with Wilhemina Models at 17 and has appeared in publications like Sports Illustrated. And it’s true that Pipko has written two books of poetry, though most articles and her website omit the fact that the two books were self-published. And it’s true that Pipko is technically a student at Harvard, though not in the way one might think — she studies at the Harvard Extension School, a degree-granting program through Harvard that does not require application for admission.

Pipko also bills herself as a competitive ice skater whose family relocated so that she could pursue figure skating to the Olympic level. But U.S. Figure Skating records show that from 2006-2010, Pipko completed annual standardized testing at the “Pre-Preliminary” level, which test skating fundamentals for beginners. In the regional and state-level championships where Pipko did compete, she did not medal. Searches on Youtube for Pipko skating come up empty. And despite a 2016 Maxim profile that had Pipko training “for the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics,” there is little evidence that she competed significantly, or that she ever approached Olympic or pre-Olympic level.

The Forward reached out to Pipko, as well as her ice skating clubs in Florida and New York, for further information about her skating career. Neither Pipko nor the skating clubs responded to requests by the time of publication. A U.S. Figure Skating official confirmed that the organization does not have competition records for Pipko beyond a regional event in 2011.

Still, Pipko’s profile started to rise earlier this year, when she was the subject of an article in the New York Post titled, “I Was A Secret Trump Supporter: Model Feared Politics Would Kill Her Career.” In the piece, Pipko revealed that she volunteered for Trump’s 2016 campaign but lied to the left-leaning modeling community that she was busy coaching ice skating. “I never leaned liberal or conservative, but there was something about Trump — the way he spoke and his honesty — that had me convinced he was our next president,” she told the Post.

During the campaign she met Darren Centinello, a 28-year-old who is now a staffer on Trump’s 2020 campaign. The couple wed at Mar-A-Lago in December in a ceremony conducted by the same rabbi who had married Pipko’s parents 28 years prior; their wedding theme was “Make Marriage Great Again.”

Since Pipko came forward with her story in the Post, she has appeared on shows like the Fox and Friends and spoken to outlets like the Daily Caller. She and Centinello, who is working on digital and social media outreach for Trump’s 2020 efforts, document their Christmas and 4th of July celebrations at the White House on social media. “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog,” her Instagram bio reads, next to the Hebrew words “Am Yisrael chai” — the people of Israel lives.

On the Jexodus website, Pipko’s biography describes her Jewish bona fides. “Elizabeth grew up attending Rabbi Schneier Park East Day School, which she credits with instilling her with a love for her Jewish faith,” the bio states. Pipko apparently attended the K-8 school until she was 10 years old.

The bio goes on to say that Pipko, “The daughter of immigrants and granddaughter of world renowned Jewish artist, Marc Klionsky, known for his work with Elie Wiesel… has always remained strongly grounded in her religion and beliefs.” Klionsky, who died in 2017 at 90 years old, was a master at portraiture who fled Soviet Russia with his family in 1974 due to rising anti-Semitism.

“I’m pretty religious. I’m Jewish,” Pipko said in a 2016 interview with Boca Life Magazine. She also revealed that she applied for Israeli citizenship when she turned 18. “The goal is to compete by next year to make the 2018 Winter Olympics. I’m trying to represent Israel,” she said. In 2013, she posted on Instagram that she had become an Israeli citizen. “A year ago today I became an Israeli citizen which will forever be my proudest accomplishment,” she wrote. The Forward reached out to Pipko’s coaches for information about whether Pipko seriously pursued Olympic trials.

Pipko, whose modeling career has also included an anti-photo-retouching campaign, grounds her narrative as a model and as a Trump supporter in oppression. “I was severely bullied in middle school,” she told Boca Life Magazine. “I was 4 feet 2 inches and had buckteeth and a crazy blond Afro. I was captain of the math team. There was definitely a bit of bullying, and no one wanted to date me.” Elsewhere, Pipko has said she was doing 10-hour days of skating and private tutoring during her middle school years.

But now, the 23-year-old has made peace with her body, gone public with her MAGA support, found her voice as a poet and pundit, and even returned to skating. As she told L’Idea Magazine, “The ONLY person that you needed believing in you, in order to succeed, is YOU.”

Jenny Singer is the deputy life/features editor for the Forward. You can reach her at [email protected] or on Twitter @jeanvaljenny

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