A prominent New York rabbi who converted Ivanka Trump to Judaism has backed out of delivering the opening prayer at the GOP convention after critics slammed him for appearing to endorse her father.
Haskel Lookstein — former head of the elite Ramaz School and the former rabbi of Kehilath Jeshurun, a tony Modern Orthodox synagogue on the Upper East Side — said he backed out because his planned invocation had become too “political.”
“Unfortunately, when my name appeared on a list of speakers at the convention, without the context of the invocation I had been invited to present, the whole matter turned from rabbinic to political, something which was never intended,” he wrote in a letter posted Friday on the school’s Facebook page.
“Like my father before me, I have never been involved in politics. Politics divides people.”
A graduate of the prep school, Jacob Savage, started a petition on Change.org condemning both Lookstein and Trump.
“We, the undersigned, are outraged that Rabbi Haskel Lookstein … has decided to lend his blessing to Donald Trump and speak at the Republican National Convention,” stated the petition, which had nearly 800 signatures as of Friday afternoon.
Lookstein posted a copy of his planned invocation.
“Help us to form a government which will protect us with sound strategy and steady strength; which will unite us with words of wisdom and acts of compassion; and which will thereby bring peace and harmony, safety and well-being to our beloved America and to all of humankind,” it read in part.
But Savage said the rabbi’s appearance would shame him and the school.
“To embrace Trump and Trumpism goes against all we’ve been taught. As graduates of Ramaz, and as current or former members of the Modern Orthodox community, this is a shanda [embarrassment] beyond the pale,” he wrote in the petition.
Ivanka Trump converted to Judaism after marrying Jared Kushner.