Source: Jewish Telegraphic Agency
LOS ANGELES (JTA) — Rabbi Marvin Hier has known Charles and Seryl Kushner — Jared Kushner’s parents and Donald Trump’s in-laws — for decades. The Hiers and the Kushners have gone to the same kosher for Passover resort, the Arizona Biltmore, over the years. The Kushner family, prominent real estate developers, have also been generous donors to the Simon Wiesenthal Center founded by Hier, for which he now serves as dean.
But the Los Angeles-based Hier said he was shocked three weeks ago when a Trump aide invited him to offer a prayer at the presidential inauguration. The 77-year-old rabbi said he accepted immediately because “it was the menschlichkeit thing to do,” using a Yiddish word meaning honorable, “and I am proud to do it.”
Hier said his participation is in line with previous blessings he offered to a bipartisan array of presidents and presidential candidates over the past three decades, though never as part of inaugural festivities.
Critics within the Jewish community, however, insist that this time is different — saying Trump’s presidential campaign targeted minorities and at times invoked tropes that many, including the Anti-Defamation League, considered anti-Semitic. The Wiesenthal Center’s own 2016 report on global anti-Semitism noted that a prominent group of neo-Nazis has embraced Trump and that Jewish journalists critical of the Republican presidential candidate were frequently targeted with anti-Semitic tweets.