It seems when people in the Orthodox community talk about Ivanka, all they can talk about is her conversion. And mostly, the stuff I hear is pretty awful.
Some converts fear that her conversion paints all converts in a bad light. These converts can’t stop talking about what Ivanka is or isn’t wearing, what Ivanka is or isn’t doing.
Others are using Ivanka’s conversion to question all of conversions of Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, the rabbi who converted Ivanka and myself (among hundreds, I’m sure thousands, of others).
I know someone who recently confessed to me and my husband that they had called other prominent rabbis to find out if Ivanka Trump’s conversion (and all of Rabbi Lookstein’s conversions, including, duh, mine) were “kosher.” I was disgusted. Unless Ivanka Trump is marrying your son, you have no business question her conversion. Period.
Here’s what I know about Ivanka Trump’s Orthodox conversion. Ivanka Trump’s only crime is converting at a time when there is an incredible backlash against Orthodox converts, Modern Orthodox rabbis and others in the Orthodox community. Because of this backlash, her actions will be under a harsh spotlight no matter what she does. Because she is Ivanka Trump. Because she is Modern Orthodox. Because she is a convert.
What you’re hearing about Ivanka Trump’s conversion is what you would hear about any convert in backrooms. This recent backlash has only made certain people more comfortable puffing up their chests and questioning all converts, including Ivanka, out loud. For years to come, I fear, Orthodox converts will not be treated as fully fledged Jews as certain Jews in the community wage a “Who is a rabbi?” war and use converts as pawns. To win this war, certain Jews have sown seeds of doubt so deep that all converts will be subject to the microscope for years to come.
When I heard Ivanka Trump had completed her conversion, I wished her a “Mazel Tov” and I said a prayer. For her, for myself, for all converts. That we do not continually come under fire because of a growing schism in the Orthodox Jewish community. And that we are allowed to lead our Jewish lives in peace without the glaring eye of those who do not wish us, or any converts, well.