Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner’s daughter and oldest child, Arabella, reportedly began school at the Jewish Primary Day School in Washington, D.C. this week. Not surprisingly, because of all of the controversy surrounding her father’s presidency, the reaction among the other parents was highly charged.
According to Town & Country, the running joke at the school is that “parents are saying Kaddish for the election.” One parent said, “The other night, I heard a parent who was very upset saying, ‘I can’t believe they’re invading my personal space! They’re against everything I stand for!'”
Awkward. Are we really all that surprised though? Having such a famous child at the school does pose a lot of questions and safety concerns for the other parents, not just the political turmoil that some may feel. Richard Mintz, the school’s spokesperson, stated that JPDS would not confirm the attendance of any student at the school–which makes sense since that information is usually confidential:
“Without referring to any specific family or child,” he said, “the school is a community day school. It welcomes everyone; there are lots of different people, and lots of different opinions, and everybody gets along.”
However, Head of School, Naomi Reem, sent a letter to the parent body addressing their fears about Trump’s victory when he was elected (which you can read here). She opened the letter by discussing her own childhood memories of a military coup in Argentina:
“Forty years ago, in my first week of high school, a military coup put an end to the democratically elected government in Argentina, where I was born and raised. Sixteen years later, I arrived in the US, on Election Day 1992, and listened to Bill Clinton’s victory speech in my hotel room, understanding only every other word. Little did I know that several presidents later I would be writing a letter to families in Washington DC about yet another Election Day.”
Since the school itself is progressive, it also doesn’t come as a surprise that many parents aren’t thrilled about Arabella’s attendance. One parent said:
“I’m amused, because if [the Trump-Kushners] had done their research they would know it’s like going to a hippie colony. It would be like Donald Trump going to Woodstock!”
In addition, Tablet called JPDS “the place to be for the kids of Washington’s politically connected Jews” and “an informal epicenter of Jewish life in Obama’s Washington” in 2013, as Town & Country pointed out.
This does make you wonder what Jared and Ivanka’s intentions were with sending their 5-year-old to a very liberal school–when Ivanka’s father stands for anything but liberalism. Of course, perhaps the family felt they had no other option for various reasons–they just may have really liked the school, and at the end of the day, Arabella is a child. While it’s understandable that many families at the school do feel uncomfortable, Arabella is not Donald Trump. She’s not Jared Kushner or Ivanka Trump either. She’s a child who will grow up to be an adult with her own opinions.
That being said, the parents who were interviewed did suggest that Arabella will be welcomed just like any other child–which is the appropriate thing to do–since a child is not a reflection of their parents. I know that only too well, considering my own parents are Trump supporters–and I am not. However, that doesn’t mean the parents feel as welcoming to Arabella’s parents. One parent explained just how upset they are:
“Kushner not only defended him and ran the campaign, but after the ‘grab ’em by the pussy’ tape—a phrase you would never hear from one of the parents at that school—it was reported that Kushner took time off on the Sabbath to help Trump deal with that.
The idea that someone would make such a song and dance about being an observant Jew and support a racist like Donald Trump cuts to the core.”
Another parent cited Judaism as a reason why they can’t support Trump–and why Kushner and Ivanka are still complicit:
“We teach our children from a very young age that we were strangers in Egypt and have an obligation to help a stranger wherever they are. The rhetoric on immigrants and refugees is gravely concerning from a Jewish perspective, and not just refugees and immigrants, but also the rhetoric on the LGBTQ community, minorities, and persecuted and vulnerable communities, period.”