Ivanka Trump Opens Up About Converting to Judaism

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Ivanka Trump (Getty)
Ivanka Trump (Getty)

People were surprised in 2009 when Ivanka Trump converted to Judaism for her fiancé, businessman and New York Observer owner Jared Kushner. They tied the knot later that year, but until now, the powerful businesswoman and designer hadn't divulged much about her choice to convert or her life as a Jewish wife and mother.

And it makes sense why. After all, religion isn't exactly prime for small talk — you don't just bring it up in an elevator after you comment on the hazy weather or during an interview about The Apprentice. However, in a new profile in Vogue, she opened up about the matter, but not without commenting on just how personal the topic is.

"I always shied away from it being a public conversation, because it's such a personal thing," she told the magazine. "We're pretty observant, more than some, less than others." (Case in point: they keep kosher, which means no shellfish, and you can't combine dairy and meat.) "I feel like it's such an intimate thing for us."

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump's 2008 wedding (Getty Images)
Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump's 2008 wedding (Getty Images)

But it's not like getting to this place of religious intimacy and bliss was without any road blocks. Back in 2009 — when Donald Trump's daughter was in the process of converting (which, by the way, is a notoriously long and arduous process) — New York profiled Kushner, and the magazine noted that the Kushner's Orthodox family did not give Trump an easy time. However, Ivanka told the magazine that she was pursuing converting. “I am studying,” she said, “and it’s been an amazing and fulfilling experience for me."

Those feelings continue today. "It’s been such a great life decision for me," she told Vogue. "I am very modern, but I’m also a very traditional person, and I think that’s an interesting juxtaposition in how I was raised as well. I really find that with Judaism, it creates an amazing blueprint for family connectivity."

Related: 3 Things You Learn at 3 Years Old as a Trump

She goes on to explain in more detail why the change has been so worth it, not just for the religious aspects, but for her marriage and her relationship with her children, Arabella, 3, and Joseph, 1. In fact, Trump told the magazine that she keeps Shabbos (the Jewish sabbath) on Saturdays in part to totally unplug, which is not an easy feat for anyone, let alone a crazy busy business lady. It's practically a superhuman power to be able to go without checking your phone or Facebook for 24 hours in this day and age.

But Trump, superwoman that she is, does it. "From Friday to Saturday, we don't do anything but hang out with one another. We don't make phone calls," she said. "It's an amazing thing when you're so connected to really sign off. And for Arabella to know that she has me, undivided, one day a week? We don't do anything but hang out with one another, go on walks together. Pure family."

Jared Kushner with kids Arabella and Joseph (Instagram)
Jared Kushner with kids Arabella and Joseph (Instagram)


Her marriage — and family — are very important to her.  "You realize in life not that many things matter that much, but your choice of spouse is really everything," she said. "I am running a thousand miles a minute, and so is he, but none of it really matters."

Related: Ivanka Trump Wears Ivana's Bob Mackie Dress Nearly 23 Years Later

This is markedly different from what we can gauge her parents' views on marriage are. For starters, the young Trump has emphasized the importance of choosing a spouse (arguably based on his character, not his financial assets), and The Donald has notoriously chosen... three, and then un-chose two of them by way of divorce. Simlarly, her mother, Ivana Trump, is on her fourth husband, Rossano Rubicondi, whom she wed in 2008.

Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner with their daughter, Arabella (Instagram)
Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner with their daughter, Arabella (Instagram)

Ivanka Trump's ability to stray from her family's gossip column-friendly marriage antics may have to do with how well she connected with Judaism, as it lets her get back to basics — like family and marriage. Not that Judaism in particular can make everyone feel connected (plenty of Jewish folks have affairs, people! And religion is a really personal matter!), but it sounds like it works for Trump. And hey, if something helps you achieve balance, solidify a healthy marriage, and turn off your phone for a day —then you get a big thumbs up.