Rabbi Who Oversaw Ivanka Trump's Conversion To Judaism Slams President

"We are deeply troubled by the moral equivalency and equivocation President Trump has offered in his response to this act of violence [in Charlottesville]."
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The rabbi who sponsored Ivanka Trump’s conversion to Judaism has fiercely criticized Donald Trump’s defense of neo-Nazis and other white supremacists. 

The president’s response to the white nationalists’ rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend has outraged Republicans and Democrats alike. Trump on Tuesday blamed “both sides” for the deadly violence that unfolded in the city. And he doubled down on his defense of white supremacists who marched through the University of Virginia’s campus and chanted Nazi slogans including “Jews will not replace us.”

In a joint letter sent to Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump’s former congregation in New York City Wednesday evening, Rabbi Emeritus Haskel Lookstein and two other rabbis criticized Trump’s reaction to the Charlottesville events, which resulted in an anti-racist protester being killed by a car. James Alex Fields Jr., 20, from Ohio, has been charged with offenses including second-degree murder.

“On the day of the funeral of Heather Heyer, the 32-year-old woman who was murdered by a vicious, white supremacist, neo-Nazi, we are all shaken by this human tragedy and all the horrible scenes from last Saturday’s riot in Charlottesville and the frightening message and fallout that have consumed us since then,” states the letter, signed by Lookstein and fellow Rabbis Chaim Steinmetz and Elie Weinstock.

The letter continues, “While we always avoid politics, we are deeply troubled by the moral equivalency and equivocation President Trump has offered in his response to this act of violence.”

Trump insisted that the counterprotesters demonstrating against the white supremacists’ anti-Semitic and racist behavior were also to blame for events that occurred. (Though on Thursday he tried to walk back his earlier comments, claiming he never “said there is a moral equivalency between” the white supremacists and the anti-fascists protesters.)

The president also falsely argued that the counter-protesters did not have a permit, while the white supremacists and neo-Nazis were legally permitted to demonstrate. 

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Several hundred white supremacists chant "Jews will not replace us," as they march through the University of Virginia campus.
The Washington Post via Getty Images

While the letter was sent to families within the community, the Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun on the Upper East Side also chose to post the statement on its Facebook page.

Lookstein had sponsored Ivanka Trump’s orthodox conversion to Judaism before her 2009 wedding to Kushner. Since the blatant displays of anti-Semitism in Charlottesville, critics have demanded to know why Trump did not immediately, unequivocally and repeatedly denounce the neo-Nazis that demonstrated in the city, considering his daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren are Jewish. 

Critics also want to know why Ivanka Trump has not spoken out more against the anti-Semitic behavior displayed over the weekend. Following Heyer’s death on Saturday, the first daughter condemned white supremacists more harshly than her father, but she has been silent on the issue since tweeting a message on Sunday. The New York Times reported Tuesday that she and Kushner were on vacation in Vermont. 

In Vice News’ documentary on the Charlottesville rally, white nationalist shock jock Christopher Cantwell chastised Trump for “giving his daughter to a Jew.”

“I don’t think you can feel about race the way I do and watch that Kushner bastard walk around with that beautiful girl,” the self-proclaimed fascist said.

America does not do a good job of tracking incidents of hate and bias. We need your help to create a database of such incidents across the country, so we all know what’s going on. Tell us your story.

Before You Go

Clashes In Charlottesville
(01 of 24)
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Neo-Nazis and white supremacists encircle and chant at counter-protesters at the base of a Thomas Jefferson statue on Aug. 11, 2017, after marching with torches through the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville, Virginia. (credit: Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
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Neo-Nazis and white supremacists take part in the "Unite the Right" rally. (credit: NurPhoto via Getty Images)
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The group marched through the University of Virginia campus with torches. (credit: Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
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A man wears Nazi regalia before the "Unite the Right" rally. (credit: Andy Campbell)
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Counter-protesters arrive at the "Unite the Right" rally. (credit: Andy Campbell)
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White supremacists carry Nazi flags on Aug. 12, 2017. (credit: Andy Campbell)
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A white supremacist carries the Confederate flag as he walks past counter-demonstrators. (credit: Joshua Roberts / Reuters)
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White nationalists march through the street. (credit: Joshua Roberts / Reuters)
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A sign on a business in downtown Charlottesville, Virginia. (credit: Christopher Mathias)
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Police arrive at the scene of protests after a state of emergency is announced in Charlottesville, Virginia. (credit: Andy Campbell)
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A man is down during a clash between white nationalist protesters and a group of counter-protesters. (credit: Joshua Roberts / Reuters)
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White nationalists and counter-protesters clash. (credit: Joshua Roberts / Reuters)
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A protester receives first-aid during a clash between white nationalists and counter-protesters. (credit: Joshua Roberts / Reuters)
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A man makes a slashing motion across his throat toward counter-protesters as he marches with other white nationalists and neo-Nazis during the "Unite the Right" rally. (credit: Chip Somodevilla via Getty Images)
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A white supremacist stands behind militia members after he scuffled with a counter-demonstrator. (credit: Joshua Roberts / Reuters)
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Virginia State Police use pepper spray as they move in during a clash between white nationalist protesters and counter-protesters. (credit: Joshua Roberts / Reuters)
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Hundreds of white nationalists and neo-Nazis march down East Market Street toward Lee Park during the "Unite the Right" rally. (credit: Chip Somodevilla via Getty Images)
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A smoke bomb is thrown at a group of counter-protesters. (credit: Joshua Roberts / Reuters)
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Virginia State Troopers stand under a statue of Robert E. Lee. White nationalists descended on Charlottesville to protest the statue's removal. (credit: Joshua Roberts / Reuters)
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Anti-fascist counter-protesters wait outside Lee Park to hurl insults as white nationalists and neo-Nazis are forced out after the "Unite the Right" rally was declared an unlawful gathering. (credit: Chip Somodevilla via Getty Images)
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A group of counter-protesters rally against white nationalists. (credit: Joshua Roberts / Reuters)
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A man is seen with an injury during a clash between white nationalists and counter-protesters. (credit: Joshua Roberts / Reuters)
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Protesters and counter-protesters after being pepper-sprayed and/or maced. (credit: Christopher Mathias)
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David Duke (C), participates in the white nationalist rally. (credit: Justin Ide / Reuters)
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