While CNN has named Ivanka Trump the most powerful Jewish woman in America, other media sources are pushing back, saying not so fast. While Ivanka Trump certainly has the spotlight as the eldest daughter of President Donald Trump, there are other very powerful Jewish women in Washington who have an established foothold on D.C. power that will last after Donald Trump ceases to be in office. And while Ivanka Trump and husband Jared Kushner are working hard to establish themselves in the D.C. Orthodox Jewish community, again, there are others who are fixtures of the Washington Jewish scene.
After Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner made the decision to be part of the Trump administration and chose a home in the Kalorama neighborhood of NW Washington, D.C., that was in walking distance of their temple, Chabad synagogue, known as TheSHUL and led by Rabbi Levi Shemtov. Ivanka Trump converted to Orthodox Judaism when she married Jared Kushner, and she has fully embraced the religion, keeping kosher and fully observing the Sabbath, which means she does not drive or use electronics from sundown on Friday to Sundown on Saturday. Many in the Jewish community are pleased that Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are representing the Jewish religion in the White House, while others are concerned that there are senior advisers in the White House who have a history of anti-Semitic speech and behavior that is not kept in check.
Just in time for Shabbat, CNN published an article on their website that gave Ivanka Trump the title of most powerful Jewish woman in America, saying that because she is Jewish and has the ear of the president, her power is a given. They mention that on her first international official trip, Ivanka took “a moment of quiet reflection” at the Western or Wailing Wall, putting her “closely guarded” faith on full display. They claim that her power lies in her ability to lead a dialogue about anti-Semitism, yet groups like the Anti-Defamation League would argue that this power has yet to come into play. The ADL says that anti-Semitic incidents have increased by 34 percent nationally.
Ivanka Trump has given the world a glimpse into her Jewish home and life, sharing Instagram posts doing prayers and making Hamentaschen, which are traditional baked goods for the holiday of Purim with her children. She allowed a picture to be taken of herself putting a prayer in the cracks of the Western Wall on her trip to Jerusalem.
“I am grateful to have experienced a deeply meaningful visit to the holiest site of my faith and to leave a private note of prayer.”
Ivanka Trump can certainly teach many around the world something about what it means to be a Jewish woman, but there are others in Washington who have spent their entire careers working hard to achieve a certain stature in national politics, all while embracing what it means to be a woman and a Jew in America. And many are arguing that some of them are far more powerful than Ivanka Trump and have done more for the cause of Judaism.
And while there is no actual contest or a vote for “most powerful Jewish woman in America,” other media outlets like MarketWatch have thrown out some names suggesting that there are several women who are better examples of feminine power in Judaism. They also argue that while Ivanka has her father’s ear, it’s a mixed bag, as he still generally seems to do what he pleases.
“For one, how powerful is Ivanka? Yes, she is the daughter of the president, gets to meet world leaders, is a household name. She’s actually an unpaid ‘assistant to the president.’ But as her disapproval to the U.S.’s withdrawal from the Paris climate accords shows, her influence over her father’s policies is limited.”
Topping the list of powerful Jewish women is Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen, who can “help create, or take away, millions of jobs and move billions of dollars around the globe.” Sure, Trump can fire Yellen, and has threatened to, but many are confident that Yellen would more than just land on her feet.
Then there are women like Supreme Court justices Elena Kagan and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who have risen to the top of their careers with lifetime appointments that even Donald Trump cannot take away. Both Jewish women are literally the final word on a multitude of topics that shape the lives of all Americans.
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It is fair to say that Ivanka Trump is more religious outwardly than these other powerful Jewish women in America, but that doesn’t seem to be the measure that CNN was suggesting.
Who do you think is the most powerful Jewish woman in America, and do you think it’s odd that CNN created such a title?
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