Is Religion an Excuse for Ivanka Trump’s ‘Let Them Eat Cake’ Photo?

Jennifer Gerson Uffalussy
Contributing Writer

The backlash is still brewing over a photo that first daughter Ivanka Trump shared of herself and her husband, Jared Kushner, all dressed up for a black-tie event on Saturday night, a situation that has been described as having heavy “Let them eat cake” overtones.

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump on Saturday night. (Photo: Ivanka Trump/Instagram)

To recap: As people around the country protested President Trump’s executive order that temporarily bans the citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States and immediately halted the U.S. refugee program for four months — with Syrian refugees barred indefinitely — the couple posted a glamorous date-night image with Ivanka wearing a $5,000 metallic dress. A social media inferno followed, with memes and hashtags calling the couple out. 

Now, a new report says there was a good reason for the bad timing: that Ivanka and Kushner were unaware of the humanitarian crisis because of religious obligations.

According to Vanity Fair sources, the pair may have innocently taken to Instagram because as Orthodox Jews they would have been observing Shabbat from Friday night to Saturday evening. Removed from technology and work during that period, the Trump-Kushner family would have been unaware of POTUS’s executive order and the public outcry in response. A source noted to Vanity Fair that “Kushner and his wife were aware of the fallout from the executive order only in an oblique way until after sundown and the photograph was posted to social media.”

But here’s the thing: The Jewish Sabbath, or Shabbat, occurs from sundown on Friday evening and ends at sundown on Saturday evening. And sundown this past Saturday, Jan. 28, was at 5:25 p.m. in Washington, D.C.

The executive order was signed at 4:42 p.m. on Jan. 27, 16 minutes before sundown, before Shabbat began. The photo in question was shared at 12:07 Sunday morning — meaning that over seven hours had passed during which the family would have seemingly had the opportunity to catch up on major world events before sharing their pic.

Another detail: The $5,000 Carolina Herrera dress that Ivanka is wearing in the photo is a shoulder-baring style that’s counter to the standards of modesty to which Orthodox practitioners generally adhere. (Ivanka also wore a one-shouldered jumpsuit to the third presidential debate back in October, so it’s clearly a style with which she is comfortable.)

It seems fair to reckon that either this was a newbie mistake or the couple might have known something about what was going on in the country that their family member now governs and opted to display their luxurious clothing and glamorous social life nonetheless.

Vanity Fair‘s sources suggest that it’s most likely the former: Ivanka “feels terrible about the post, and does not want something like that to happen again,” said one.

Another noted that while the post was “idiotic” and showed “naiveté in not understanding her surroundings or circumstances,” there’s a major difference between Ivanka and her father: “She can adjust her behavior accordingly, and she’s open to doing that.”

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