Charlie and Seryl Kushner were horrified at the idea that their son might marry outside the faith, according to 2019 book ‘Kushner Inc’. Author Vicky Ward explained how they were even partly responsible for Ivanka and Jared’s three-month break-up in 2008. However, the pair were reunited on a boating trip and not long after Ivanka decided to convert.
According to friends, Charlie was still skeptical about Ivanka and only went along with the conversion because he felt he had no other choice.
It was done “on Charlie’s terms” under the instruction of Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, then the rabbi of Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun on New York’s Upper East Side.
Rabbi Lookstein was a member of the Rabbinical Council of America, which has certain influence over whether a conversion is considered legitimate.
Family friend Bob Sommer claimed Charlie wanted to “test Ivanka’s devotion” to Jared and their life together, so made the conversion “as challenging as possible”.
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He told Ms Ward: “This wasn’t like, ‘Talk to a rabbi, read a couple of paragraphs. It was hard, and it was on Charlie’s terms.”
Despite this, Ivanka surpassed Charlie’s expectations and soon both he and Seryl were soon “effusive” about her.
Charlie apparently would explain to friends that Ivanka really wanted to be a Kushner, because they were the close family she never had.
The wedding took place on October 25, 2009 at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey.
Guests included high-powered media figures, Hollywood celebrities, New York socialites, politicians and a vast array of real estate people.
However, Ivanka’s father Donald Trump is said to have been “discombobulated” and “baffled” by his daughter’s conversion.
He would later say to his political aide Sam Nunberg: “Why should my daughter convert to marry anyone?”
The traditional Jewish nature of the wedding party too was a “shock” for Mr Trump, according to a friend.
Ivanka’s dress covered her shoulders in keeping with conservative Jewish tradition, women were given shawls when they arrived, and the sexes were asked to dance separately several times during the night.”
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Mr Trump was also less than complimentary about Jared and his family.
He apparently thought Charlie was “stupid” because he spent time behind bars, after “being caught by the Feds.”
Charlie pleaded guilty in 2005 to eighteen counts of aiding in the preparation of false tax returns, retaliating against a witness and making false statements to the Federal Election Commission.
Mr Trump also reportedly used to compare Jared to NFL player Tom Brady, saying to friends: “Why couldn’t she have married Tom Brady? Have you seen how far he throws a football?”
He allegedly once said to Robert Kraft, who owns the New England Patriots, that “Jared is half the size of Tom Brady’s forearm.”
While Ivanka’s conversion was judged “challenging” by a family friend, the legitimacy of conversions carried out by Rabbi Lookstein came under scrutiny after a woman who converted under his instruction was denied a marriage license in Israel.
In Israel, if you are Jewish you have to be married by an Orthadox rabbi, and the Orthodox rabbinical authorities will not grant a marriage licence unless they certify the couple as Jewish.
People from abroad whose parents were not married under the auspices of the Rabbinate have to provide certification, usually from their congressional rabbis back home.
Nicole Zietler, whose conversion was overseen by Rabbi Lookstein, was denied a licence because her conversion was not deemed legitimate.
After she appealed her case, it was upheld in July 2016 by Israel’s supreme rabbinical court, the highest religious court in the country.
In the end, she had to undergo a second conversion in Israel in order to marry her fiance.
She told The Times of Israel: “I feel degraded. Essentially, they are saying they don’t recognise my Judaism.
“I love Rabbi Lookstein, he’s my rabbi, he brought me into the world as a Jew, and I don’t want his conversions not to be recognised.”
However, after Mr Trump won the 2016 US Presidential Election, the Israeli Chief Rabbinate finally released the list of rabbis it recognises for conversion and divorce – a list previously kept secret – and Rabbi Lookstein was, inexplicably, on the list.
Some have suggested it is not a coincidence that the rabbi who sponsored Ivanka’s conversion is now recognised.
Ms Zietler said: “There is a part of me that feels it’s a little fishy that now Trump is President they want their conversion approved right away.”
Elad Kaplan, who is from ITIM, a group that represents Jewish converts in Israel, suggested the change was made for diplomatic reasons.
He said: “It would definitely be embarrassing to the State of Israel and for the rabbinate if a Jewish family like Ivanka Trump’s family was to visit Israel and for the official Jewish authorities in Israel not to recognise their Judaism.”
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