Eric and Lara Trump are expecting, and everyone is asking: will this be his fourth Jewish grandkid? Is Lara a member of the tribe? Was that a crystal chuppah, or just a canopy?
Turns out, maybe she’s not Jewish. You know what? It doesn’t really matter. Just because Trump has a growing family that may or may not have Jewish heritage, doesn’t mean he knows the first thing about Jewish values. Or family values, either.
Let’s just start with the basics. You know what I’m going to say: tikkun olam, Hebrew for “world repair.” Jews understand this to mean social responsibility and action; making the world a better place. From a young age, we are taught the importance of charity (tzedakah) as well as justice (tzedek) and embracing learnings from the Torah about how to be a good person.
It’s easy, but I can make it even easier by translating to today’s current events:
Cutting programs supporting our most vulnerable classes, like Meals on Wheels and Medicaid, is not tikkun olam. Signing executive orders that threaten minorities and women is not tikkun olam. Disbanding agencies that advocate for education and the environment is not tikkun olam. Refusing to take a hard stance about the threats to mosques, JCCs and cemeteries is not tikkun olam. Instating a Muslim ban is definitely not tikkun olam.
This is just the short list, but you don’t have to be a Torah scholar to get the picture.
Here’s the deal. No one expects Donald Trump to lead the seder next month… can you even imagine what he’d tweet?
“I will get the most Jews – ever – out of Egypt this year. It’ll be the biggest, the fastest Exodus ever.” #MPGA”
An amusing thought, sure. But given his Jewish son in-law and daughter, at least some members of the family will be holding a Trump seder. And I really wonder what the younger Trumps will think when dipping their fingers into wine, and their vegetables into salt water. Will they realize that the ten plagues symbolize the evils of oppression? Will they remember that there was a seder 74 years ago that coincided with the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, and realize that’s exactly where the kind of prejudice their dad—tacitly and explicitly—encourages tends to lead?
Wouldn’t it be nice if Trump actually understood what it means to be Jewish; you know, just out of respect for his family members? But we can’t rely on them to teach him, since they seem to be missing the whole tikkun olam thing, and are mostly out for themselves.
You obviously don’t have to be Jewish to help your fellow human (hi, Jesus, Ghandi, and MLK), but one would think that the Jewish Trumps might have a semblance of solidarity with Jewish values. Their not driving on Shabbat (expect when a Rabbi gives you special permission for the inauguration) is kind of missing the point.
But the rest of us are also missing the point, because it doesn’t matter if Lara’s a member of the tribe. It doesn’t matter what Jared and Ivanka’s Passover epiphanies might be.
What matters now more than ever, this Passover season more than ever, are our Jewish values and putting them into action. Let’s focus on those.