Rabbi Lookstein Denies He Gave Ivanka Heter To Fly On Shabbos


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There was the Politico report that Mrs. Ivanka Trump was given “a rabbinical pass” to be mechalel Shabbos by flying on Air Force One this past Shabbos as President Trump headed to the Mideast on his first international flight, landing in Saudi Arabia. It is pointed out that while “her rabbi” was quoted as giving her the “rabbinical pass”, he was not mentioned by name.

According to Yediot Achronot, Rabbi Haskel Lookstein told Machane Tzioni party leader MK Yitzchak Herzog that he never gave such a heter despite reports to the contrary. He is quoted telling Herzog the reports are “fake news” and that he has not been in contract with Mrs. Ivanka Trump for a number of weeks. Rabbi Lookstein is known to be Mrs. Ivanka Trump’s rav.

The very same issue created a similar storm regarding Inauguration Day, at which time her rabbi reportedly gave her permission to ride in a limo due to “Security concerns”.

Mrs. Trump’s rabbi is Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, who is responsible for her giyur. Rav Lookstein is the longtime Mora D’asra of Congregation Kehillat Yeshurun on the Upper East Side of Manhattan as well as an elder among the Modern Orthodox rabbonim in the USA and the RCA. He is a well-respected Orthodox Rav but nevertheless, he came under fire when Israel’s Supreme Rabbinical Court would not recognize his giyur. There was some back and forth on the matter as the Chief Rabbis came under attack for their decision.

(YWN World Headquarters – NYC)


  1. Rav Lookstien is a highly respected Rav within the frum tzibur, even among many who otherwise are not big fans of the “MO” label. The White House does not do any favors to the Kushners/Trumps when they tell reporters that “their rabbi” gave them permission to be mechallel Shabbos to travel with the President or otherwise engage in some official function. These are two adults and can do what they want w/o having to explain who gave them a “heter” or whatever. Aside from matters of pikuach nefesh (putting aside how that is defined) Joe Lieberman was a model of how to deal with these questions which was NOT to talk about it after the first time it was asked and also asked his Staff not to discuss it. Also, the members of his shul in Georgetown in D.C. (a “MO” shul) also did not talk about his hashkafah.

  2. Bottom line, the Kushners aren’t shomer Torah umitzvos. They pick and choose what and when it’s convenient for them. It wouldn’t be an issue if they and others would stop trying to present themselves as frum. If they were confident in the psak, if there even was one, why not reveal the name? Obviously Rabbi Lookstein wants no part of this.

  3. “He is a well respected Orthodox Rav”.

    Oh really?! By whom? The Rabbanim in Eretz Yisroel tend to differ.
    Nice spin by the reliable Yidiot Achronot.

    We all remember, whenever Joe Lieberman did very questionable things which were kineged halacha, we were always told, “He asked his Rav and we must respect his decisions?”. Well it turns out that his Rav, Mr. Fruendel, turned out to be a filthy lowlife pervert.
    I’m not comparing Rabbi Lookstein or whomever Ivanka’s supposed “Rav” is to the piece of garbage mentioned before, but whenever you hear about these politicians getting “heterim” from their alleged “Rav”, we should always take it with a grain of salt. Especially when it comes to Chillul Shabbos befarhesia!

  4. Sorry Godolhadorah but he is not as you state “a well respected orthodox Rav”. He is long been known as being “conservadox”.

  5. Your insulting comments about Rav Lookstein are totally inappropriate, and even mentioning him in the same discussion as Fruendel warrants your seeking mechilah for your own neshama. I agree with you that all this meshugaas about heterim for chilul Shabbos is not worth revisiting. They can and will do what they want and their self-described “orthodox jewish” affiliation is really creating lots of media hysteria for nothing.

  6. The creative interpretations of halacha by Modern Orthodox baal habatiim is what makes them Modern orthodox. One should assume that Jared and Ivanka have a Shabbos goy with them to carry things, open car doors and operate machinery, etc. Given that their entire entourage, includng the president,, are all goyim – finding a goy should not be difficult. One should not expect them to act like hareidim, since they aren’t. And note that asking shailohs is something hareidim do.

  7. To those who want to be dan lkaf zchut, being flown by a non-Jew when he is not doing it only for the Jew is not any issur d’oraisa and probably not any midrabanan either. In fact it may only be uvda d’chol or marit ha’ayin. It’s similar to being in a room when a non Jew turns on the light for himself. These may be waived b’sha’at dchak such as perhaps hefsed m’rubah or bordering on a life threatening situation as here. We do not know all the details of the sensitive diplomatic situation, Kushner being a close advisor to the most powerful man in the world, but even if the there was no reason for a heter it may not be worse than the sort of issurim many of us routinely violate such as talking shop on shabbat. Just keep criticism in proportion.

  8. Since when does a Jew making a chillul hashem not affect us? Do you people honestly think that if YWN didn’t report something, it would make any difference? Every left wing media outlet in the country posts every little thing that the Trumps and Kushners do, and you think some site that caters to a tiny sliver of the population is going to tip the apple cart?

    I agree with everything akuperma said, as usual. Although, I’m not sure why the word baal habatim was necessary. Are there really any MO “learning boys” that you would need to distinguish from? I guess maybe the guy who switches his major 4 times and ends up stuck in YU for a decade is their version of Kollel.