Kehilat Yeshurun Rabbi Haskel Lookstein said on Sunday that he was not the rabbi who gave Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner permission to fly on Air Force One on Shabbat (Sabbath), calling the rumors “fake news”.
Rabbi Lookstein is the rabbi who converted Ivanka in 2009, prior to her marriage to Jared Kushner.
According to Yediot Ahronot, Lookstein told Opposition Leader Yitzhak Herzog (Zionist Union) that he has not been in touch with Ivanka for “several weeks” and the information was false.
Ivanka and Jared flew on Air Force One together with US President Donald Trump to Saudi Arabia on Friday, landing after the start of Shabbat on Friday night. However, they did not state which rabbi had given them permission to do so.
Jewish law does not permit traveling on Shabbat except in cases deemed life threatening.
Ivanka and Jared are Orthodox Jews and generally observe Shabbat. Both serve as unpaid advisers in the White House.
In fact, since a plane is similar to a boat in Jewish law, and since the amount of additional gas Jared and Ivanka’s weight would cause the plane to use is minimal, the main issue with the couple’s flight is how they would get off the plane and get around after landing.
In addition, since both are close advisers of President Trump’s, and cannot safely fly to Saudi Arabia any other way, the halakhic (Jewish legal) discussion and decision is relatively simple for a practicing rabbi.
However, given the backlash expected, it is not surprising the rabbi who granted the permission did not feel comfortable with the couple publicizing his name.
Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, the prominent modern Orthodox rabbi who oversaw Ivanka Trump’s conversion to Judaism, said he is not the rabbi who gave the first daughter and her husband, Jared Kushner a dispensation to fly on Air Force One on Shabbat.
Lookstein told Isaac Herzog, leader of the opposition Zionist Union party, that it was “fake news” that he had given them permission to travel by plane on Shabbat for President Donald Trump’s first international trip, the daily Yediot Acharonot newspaper reported on Sunday. The report was picked up by several Israeli newspapers in advance of Trump’s arrival on Monday afternoon.
Lookstein also told Herzog, according to Yediot, that he had not been in contact with Ivanka Trump for several weeks. The couple moved to Washington DC shortly after Donald Trump was elected, and both serve as official advisers to the president.
The couple also was seen traveling to meetings by car in Saudi Arabia on Saturday.
A White House official, reported by Politico on Friday, said the couple, who are Orthodox Jews, received a rabbinical dispensation to join the president aboard Air Force One when he off on his first overseas trip on Friday, according to the report. The article named neither the official nor the rabbi, nor did it say who obtained the dispensation or when.
Orthodox Jews observe a Sabbath prohibition on work, motorized travel and the switching on or off of any appliance that uses heat, electricity or fire. As a matter of consensus, the prohibitions do not apply to life-or-death situations or when violating the Shabbat has the potential of saving human lives (and according to some decisors, the lives of certain animals under specific circumstances).
Ivanka Trump converted to Judaism in 2008 before her marriage to Kushner.
The couple reportedly also received rabbinic permission to travel in a car in January during the Trump inaugural festivities.