Trump Family Gets the Jewish Orthodox Experience at Western Wall

Trump slips notes, prays at holy Jewish site ■ First Lady prays in women's section, while daughter Ivanka sheds a tear ■ First visit to Kotel by sitting U.S. president

Judy Maltz
Judy Maltz
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Trump visits the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City on May 22, 2017.
Trump visits the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City on May 22, 2017.Credit: MANDEL NGAN/AFP
Judy Maltz
Judy Maltz

With a skullcap on his head, Donald Trump slipped a note with a prayer deep into the Western Wall on Monday afternoon, in the first visit ever paid by a sitting U.S. president to the Jewish holy site in Jerusalem.

>> Get all updates on Trump's visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority: Download our free App, and Subscribe >>

Accompanied by his Jewish son-in-law, Jared Kushner, the U.S. president received a brief explanation about the site from Mordechai Eliav, the director-general of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation. Also accompanying Trump at the site was the custodian of the Western Wall, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz. He stood by the wall for several minutes in deep thought touching the stones.

The White House turned down a request from Israel that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu join Trump on the visit.

First Lady Melania Trump visits the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City on May 22, 2017.Credit: RONEN ZVULUN/REUTERS

>> Donald Trump's visit to Israel: Live updates and analyses >>

Trump arrived at the Jewish holy site with his wife Melania and daughter Ivanka. But in deference to Jewish religious custom, he and his son-in-law parted ways with them. Trump and Kushner visited the men’s prayer plaza, and the first lady and daughter visited the women’s section. The two sections are separated by a barrier.

Non-Orthodox Jews have been waging a campaign in recent years to allow men and women to pray together at the Western Wall at a specially designated area on the other side of the Western Wall. Although the government approved a plan to create such a space, Netanyahu has refrained from following through with it, under pressure from his Orthodox coalition partners.

Ivanka Trump, who has visited Israel numerous times before, appeared visibly moved during the visit, as she wiped a tear from her cheek after touching the stones of the Kotel. She also appeared to be deep in thought and prayer. The president’s daughter and wife received an explanation from several Orthodox women, apparently employees of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, which runs the site.

It is customary for observant women to cover their hair when visiting the Western Wall because it is a holy site. Ivanka Trump wore a small hat on her head, but the first lady’s head was bare.

The presidential entourage arrived at the Western Wall after a visit to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Click the alert icon to follow topics:



Automatic approval of subscriber comments.

Subscribe today and save 40%

Already signed up? LOG IN


Palestinians search through the rubble of a building in which Khaled Mansour, a top Islamic Jihad militant was killed following an Israeli airstrike in Rafah, southern Gaza strip, on Sunday.

Gazans Are Tired of Pointless Wars and Destruction, and Hamas Listens to Them

Trump and Netanyahu at the White House in Washington, in 2020.

Three Years Later, Israelis Find Out What Trump Really Thought of Netanyahu

German soldier.

The Rival Jewish Spies Who Almost Changed the Course of WWII

Rio. Not all Jewish men wear black hats.

What Does a Jew Look Like? The Brits Don't Seem to Know

Galon. “I’m coming to accomplish a specific mission: to increase Meretz’s strength and ensure that the party will not tread water around the electoral threshold. If Meretz will be large enough, it will be the basis for a Jewish-Arab partnership.” Daniel Tchetchik

'I Have No Illusions About Ending the Occupation, but the Government Needs the Left'

Soldiers using warfare devices made by the Israeli defense electronics company Elbit Systems.

Russia-Ukraine War Catapults Israeli Arms Industry to Global Stage