When Ivanka Trump chowed down on kosher grilled tofu and bibimbap during a dinner with South Korean President Moon Jae In at the Presidential Blue House in Seoul on Friday, she did more than satisfy her hunger. She also sent a signal, according to some.
According to the Business Insider, the meal, enjoyed as part of the first daughter’s trip to the country for the Winter Olympics closing ceremonies. had a “hidden meaning.” The publication reports that the carefully prepared menu was “crafted to contain nods to the relationship between South Korea and the US — as well as South Korea’s relationship with North Korea.”
For the presidential historians out there, the full menu – conceived as “Korean food designed to be palatable for foreigners,” according to a White House pool report — included lotus root and pear salad; Jujube (red date) porridge; grilled soft tofu with special marinade; Kalbi grilled ribs; Bibimbap (rice, vegetables, and a variety of toppings and sauces); frozen strawberry in three flavors; citrus tea; dried persimmon and deep-fried walnut; red wine from Napa Valley; and white wine from Chungbuk province in South Korea.
According to the Blue House, “Bibimbap is a food that mixes different ingredients evenly and symbolizes harmony,” a reference to relations not only between the United States and South Korea, but South Korea and its neighbor to the north. The pairing of wines from Napa Valley and South Korea was another symbolic nod to partnership and cooperation.
Ivanka, raised as a Presbyterian Christian, converted to Orthodox Judaism in July 2009 after studying with Elie Weinstock from the Modern Orthodox Ramaz School.
She has described her conversion as an “amazing and beautiful journey” which her father supported “from day one”, adding that he has “tremendous respect” for the Jewish religion. Of keeping a kosher diet and observing the Jewish Sabbath, she said in 2015, “We’re pretty observant… It’s been such a great life decision for me… I really find that with Judaism, it creates an amazing blueprint for family connectivity. From Friday to Saturday we don’t do anything but hang out with one another. We don’t make phone calls.”
She and her husband, Jared Kushner, famously sent their young daughter to kindergarten at a Jewish school when they lived in New York City. “It’s such a blessing for me to have her come home every night and share with me the Hebrew that she’s learned and sing songs for me around the holidays,” Ivanka noted.
Ivanka and her husband visited the grave of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, just before her father’s election victory. In May of 2017, the couple traveled with the President on the first official visit of Israel by the Trump administration, where her father made the first visit to the Western Wall by a sitting U.S. president. Ivanka also visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in western Jerusalem.
By: Kenneth H.M. Robeson