Oct 06, 2022
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GOP frontrunner for the presidential race and avowed friend of Israel Donald Trump was noticeably absent from the ceremonial Jewish circumcision, or brit milah, of his newest grandson, Theodore Kushner, on Sunday, press photos showed.

Trump’s daughter Ivanka, a religious Jew who converted to Judaism in 2009 before marrying businessman Jared Kushner, gave birth last Sunday to the couple’s third child and second son, named Theodore James.

In the Jewish tradition, infant boys undergo the circumcision ritual on the eighth day after their birth, as God commanded Abraham:

This is My covenant, which ye shall keep, between Me and you and thy seed after thee: every male among you shall be circumcised. And ye shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of a covenant betwixt Me and you. And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every male throughout your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any foreigner, that is not of thy seed. Genesis 17:10-12

The brit milah, or bris, is one of the most important life-cycle rituals in Judaism, as it is the moment at which a baby boy enters the eternal covenant of Abraham and is officially given the religious and spiritual status of a Jew.

On Sunday, the sharply dressed Kushner family – Ivanka, Jared, 5-year-old daughter Arabella, 3-year-old son Joseph (who had his own bris in 2013) and 8-day-old Theodore – held the infant’s bris in New York City. During the bris, a mohel removes the baby’s foreskin with a special instrument and recites a blessing welcoming the child into the Jewish people.

In a video, the family is shown leaving the location of the bris with their children. Gloved assistants can be seen putting bags of gifts and items used in the ceremony – including the special pillow on which the infant is placed when he is handed from his mother to his father for the circumcision – into their car.

While there had been some media speculation that Trump, the baby’s grandfather, would attend and perhaps even participate in the ceremony, the real estate mogul, currently in the lead to win the Republican party’s presidential nomination, stayed on the campaign trail instead. Battling for votes in Wisconsin, where his rival Ted Cruz is expected to best him in Tuesday’s primary, Trump was unable to make it back to New York for the bris.

Even if he had attended, it is unlikely that he would have had a significant role. While the grandfather does traditionally perform the part of the sandek, who holds the baby while the mohel performs the actual circumcision, the sandek must be a Jew, which, despite his family connections, Trump is not. It is likely that the baby’s paternal grandfather, real estate developer Charles Kushner, who is observant, took on the role.

Trump has emphasized his daughter’s Judaism during his campaign in an effort to connect with Jewish voters. During his speech at last month’s American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference, Trump said, “I love Israel … I’ve received some of my greatest honors from Israel. My father before me, incredible. My daughter, Ivanka, is about to have a beautiful Jewish baby.”