Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner may have been named the “ultimate Jewish power couple,” but that hasn’t always been the case. When Trump and Kushner started dating in 2005, she was a member of the Presbyterian church. However, Trump made the switch to Judaism in 2009. Why the drastic change in religious beliefs?
Here’s the real reason Trump converted to Judaism, as well as how she’s feeling about her new religious traditions since the switch.
- The couple broke up briefly over their religious differences
Trump and Kushner may have started dating in 2005, but their relationship ended briefly in 2008 over their religious differences. Kushner grew up as a Modern Orthodox, and as their relationship became more serious, their differences in religious beliefs became more apparent.
- Kushner was expected to marry a Jewish woman
Kushner followed Jewish tradition throughout his life, such as keeping Kosher and observing Shabbos. His parents, Charles and Seryl Kushner, expected him to continue their religious traditions in marrying a woman with the same faith.
“The lingering issue was religion,” according to The New Yorker. “The Kushners hoped that Jared would marry a Jewish woman … Donald Trump is Presbyterian, and Ivanka — who in the documentary Born Rich appears wearing a necklace with a silver cross — was not what they’d had in mind.”
- Trump switched to Judaism for love
Trump and Kushner realized from their breakup that they just couldn’t stay apart. Trump made the decision to change the one thing standing in their way: her religion. She converted from Presbyterian to Jewish, and the two wed in a Jewish ceremony on Oct. 5, 2009 (after Kushner proposed with a 5.22 carat diamond ring).
- Converting to Judaism required hard work
Converting to Judaism isn’t an easy task, but Trump put in the work necessary to ultimately marry Kushner. According to The Times of Israel, “She went through a rigorous conversion process under the tutelage of Rabbi Haskel Lookstein at the Upper East Side’s Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun.”
My Jewish Learning describes converting to Jewish faith as “[Penetrating] a person’s innermost character and spiritual being, demanding an examination of self and other that may culminate in the adoption of a new identity.”
- Trump calls it a ‘great life decision’
In February 2015, Trump told Vogue that she is still happy with her conversion to Judaism. “It’s been such a great life decision for me,” she explained. “I am very modern, but I’m also a very traditional person, and I think that’s an interesting juxtaposition in how I was raised as well. I really find that with Judaism, it creates an amazing blueprint for family connectivity.”
- They’re passing down traditions to their children
Since getting married, Trump and Kushner have become parents to Arabella, 6, Joseph, 4, and Theodore, 1. While keeping Kosher and observing the Sabbath, Trump and Kushner have been passing down traditions of Orthodox Judaism to their children.
“We don’t do anything but hang out with one another. We don’t make phone calls,” she confessed. “It’s an amazing thing when you’re so connected to really sign off. And for Arabella to know that she has me, undivided, one day a week? We don’t do anything except play with each other, hang out with one another, go on walks together. Pure family.”
- Kushner praises Trump for embracing new rituals
Kushner is clearly appreciative of Trump’s willingness to embrace her new rituals. “Ivanka’s such a type A. She just gets it done,” he bragged.
“But she said, ‘If we’re going to do Shabbos, I’m going to cook.’ She never cooked before in her life, and became a great cook. So for Friday, she’ll make dinner for just the two of us, and we turn our phones off for 25 hours. Putting aside the religious aspect of it; we live in such a fast-paced world.”