December 20, 2016

Kosher at the White House

Last week, the White House held its annual Chanukah party and once again the kitchen was koshered so that the guests could eat the food. First lady Michelle Obama is not the first to allow the koshering of the kitchen; that distinction belongs to former First Lady Laura Bush who in 2001 became the first to not only kosher the kitchen but to actually supervise the process that is spearheaded by Rabbi Levi Shemtov of the Lubavitch Center in Washington. With Ivanka Trump due to take a major role in her father’s White House, there may be much more koshering than in the past. Ivanka, a convert to Judaism who is married to Jarred Kushner, recently posted her recipe for a broccoli kugel on her Facebook page. She observes kashrus and fully shuts down on the Shabbat. Kosher may also be the order of the day at the US Embassy, currently in Tel Aviv, which President-Elect Trump has vowed to move to Jerusalem. The reason is that Mr. Trump appointed long-time friend and confidante David Friedman to the Ambassador post in Israel. Mr. Friedman is an Orthodox Jew.

My take is that all this only helps propel kosher to its new status as a trendy food that is popular with more than kashrus observant Jews. Having kosher at the White House is more than an accommodation; it is a symbol of our democracy that respects and honors an age-old tradition. Happy Chanukah!