An Open Letter to Ivanka Trump from One Jewish Mom to Another – Kveller
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An Open Letter to Ivanka Trump from One Jewish Mom to Another

Dear Ivanka,

Last week, you stood up and spoke in front of the world. But what concerns me most is your silence.

Ivanka, you may be a beautiful, smart, and successful daughter of the man who would be King—but you are also a Jew. And I am calling on you as a Jew—especially as a Jewish mother—to stand up for a better world for your children.

I know you know the story of Purim, because I saw your pictures of your mishloach manot on your Instagram feed. For those who don’t, though, Queen Esther was the once-upon-a-time Jewish queen of Persia, and is the heroine of the Purim story. When the king was about to unleash an unjust massacre on the Jews, she could not remain silent—even though technically, she could, because no one but her uncle Mordechai knew that she herself was Jewish. But she couldn’t remain silent because she felt an imperative—the undeniable tug of having to do what was right. She told the king that he could not massacre all the Jews, because she herself was Jewish.

When you stood on that stage at the Republican National Convention last week, the eyes of the world were on you. You gave a great and compelling speech that showed that actually, you’re a Democrat, but that’s neither here nor there. But, sadly, you were not our Esther.

As a fellow Jewish mother, I desperately wanted you to say something like this: “I need to take a stand here and now against the groundswell of hate that has burst up from our country like a horrible tidal wave. We stand at a fork in the road, where we have the choice of who we will be. And this party needs to step toward making America great, not making America hate. This party needs to realize that America is a place where no one should be persecuted for the color of their skin or for what they believe. Anti-Semitic death threats to journalists are unacceptable in an open democratic society. I say that as a member of this party, and I say that as a Jew.”

Instead, you smiled and waved. You let your golden hair be fanned out behind you by a windblowing machine, as you smiled beatifically at millions. You said nothing.

Your silence was complicit, and damning.

Many pieces have been written as to whether your father is an anti-Semite. “He can’t be—he has a Jewish daughter!” many say.

I don’t know if your father is an anti-Semite. Actually, I don’t think your father holds any deep beliefs of that sort, simply because I don’t think your father holds any deep beliefs other than his passionate belief in himself and his greatness. What matters to me is that your father has gleefully ridden this wave of horrible anti-Semitic hate and vitriol, along with the other waves of various racist stripes. He surfs it, without caring what is in the wave or what happens when it hits the shore.

Kol yisrael areivim ze ba zeh.” All of Israel is responsible for one another. We cannot sit idly by when our fellow Jews are being tormented. Your obligation, as a Jew and as a Jewish mother, was—and is—to stand up and speak out against hatred, not to be its beautiful figurehead.

I write as a mother to another mother: Surely neither of us wants our Jewish children to grow up in a world where random people feel comfortable sending them emailed pictures of Jews getting shot in the head, or being herded into ovens. I don’t know you personally, but I know, in my gut, that it is impossible that a mother would want that kind of world for her children.

It won’t be easy to take a stand against this hate. Maybe you worry that, in the climate your father and your father’s party have created thus far, it will put you and your family at risk. Maybe you don’t believe my feeling that you are already in danger, whether you know it or not—we all are. But please do what is right, for your family and for your people.

You and I went to the same university, once upon a time. There is a gate on campus I always found inspirational. In wrought iron, it bears the saying, “We will find a way, or we will make one.”

Please help make a way for this country to go from darkness to light—if not for our sakes, then for our children’s.

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