A remarkable tale of a half-century-long friendship may be the basis for the current warm relations
The story began in the 1950’s when Malka Weisberg’s parents, both Holocaust survivors, immigrated to America from Poland. Her father, Rabbi Israel Wagner, got a job as the rabbi of Beach Haven, a newly established community in Brooklyn. Many of the people in the community were Holocaust survivors while others had witnessed the horrors of WWII while serving in the U.S. Army.
The community was praying in a temporary space, an underground garage in one of the development’s buildings. The rabbi decided to meet with the owner of the properties. Starting out building houses during the depression, Beach Haven was the second large development venture for Fred Trump, the father of the young man who grew up to be the current president.
A friendship made in heaven
The Lutheran land developer and the Polish rabbi quickly became friends at their first meeting.
“Basically, they became very close friends for the next 49 years,” Weisberg told Breaking Israel News. “Mr. Trump agreed to donate the land if the community built a synagogue on it.”
Their friendship seemed incongruous since their meeting came less than six years after the end of WWII and the Holocaust. Both of Fred Trump’s parents were German and the ovens of the concentration camps were still warm.
Mr. Trump was different
“My parents went through the Holocaust and knew that Fred was German,” Weisberg said. “They certainly knew what Germany did and would never forget it. But when they saw Fred, they saw a good man. And they appreciated that.”
The friendship continued, growing with time.
A blossoming relationship
“The Trump offices were in Beach Haven and Mr. Trump would frequently stop in to talk to my father. They definitely discussed their pasts,” Weisberg said. “They spoke about family, a subject that was very important to both of them. They also discussed theology and religion.”
Trump’s largesse towards the Jewish community was partly charitable and partly self-interest.
“He wanted to build the community and to increase its value,” Weisberg explained. “Mr. Trump was impressed by the idea of a Jewish community, families, a place of worship. He liked my father very much, and my father liked him. Their friendship was based on Mr. Trump’s personal understanding that what my father was doing was a good thing. He also felt it was a good business investment, that a nice community would attract businesses and raise the property value.”
The original Green Deal
Weisberg explained that this was behind many of Trump’s decisions. He invested in planting grassy areas. He also provided free transportation to the nearby beaches.
“But I definitely think a big motive behind his actions was in the verse about blessing Israel,” Weisberg said unequivocally.
I will bless those who bless you And curse him that curses you; And all the families of the earth Shall bless themselves by you.” Genesis 12:3
From loose change collector to millionaire president
“He was a very smart businessman and a very nice man,” Weisberg said. This gave the President his start in business. A young Donald Trump was frequently seen at the apartment complexes, collecting the quarters from the laundry machines, a project that was his grandmother’s domain.
Trump’s connection with the Jewish community continued after the initial investment.
“Whenever my father had a congregant who was down and out, he turned to Mr. Trump and he always helped,” “He was a very nice man and very family oriented. He was invited to the weddings of me and my siblings.
He attended the yearly fundraising dinners held by the synagogue, bringing his entire family. Malka, very young at the time, would say the Hebrew blessing over a large ceremonial challah (braided bread) presented at the beginning of the meal. Weisberg related how Mrs. Trump, a Sottish-born Presbyterian was so impressed that she kissed her forehead.
“She was a very nice woman and they were a very close family. Donald Trump was very very close with his family and it was clear he would go into the family business,” Weisberg said. “He learned the business from his father but it really took off under him.”
Importance of Israel
“The president learned from his father to be a real ohev yisrael (lover of Israel). His father certainly was. This is something I think should be known and the president deserves credit for the good he does for Israel. Until now, his track record seems to clearly show that the president is an ohev yisrael, the same as his father.”
It is well-known that Donald Trump has been a long-time friend of Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Though this is clearly a manifestation of the strong political alliance between the two countries, it has its roots in the president’s family. Fred Trump, the president’s father, became friends with Netanyahu while he was the Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations in Manhattan.
The friendship lasted until Fred passed away in 1999. Rabbi Wagner and his wife attended the wake. Weisberg related how Donald Trump approached her mother, grateful that she was at the funeral.
“Rebbetzin, you should know that your husband was not only a good friend of my father, but he was also my father’s rabbi,” Trump told Weisberg’s mother.
Weisberg now lives in Israel and then young man she once knew is now considered by many to be the most pro-Israel president in U.S. history.
“I believe a lot of what the president does today with the Jewish people and Israel comes from how he grew up, watching his father interact with the Jewish community,” Weisberg said. “This came from the warm relationship between Fred Trump and my father.”