The rabbi who oversaw Ivanka Trump's conversion to Judaism has stated that he is "deeply troubled" by what he called "the moral equivalency and equivocation" in U.S. President Donald Trump's response to the violent events in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend.
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The condemnation, from Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, rabbi emeritus of modern Orthodox Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun in Manhattan, who oversaw Ivanka Trump's conversion in 2009, came in a letter obtained by New York Magazine that was sent to congregants on Wednesday. The letter was co-signed by the congregation's two other rabbis, Chaim Steinmetz and Elie Weinstock, who succeeded Lookstein in leading the synagogue.
"While we always avoid politics, we are deeply troubled by the moral equivalency and equivocation President Trump has offered in his response to this act of violence," Lookstein's letter stated.
Expressing shock at the car-ramming that killed 32-year-old counterprotester Heather Heyer at the rally, Lookstein and his colleagues added: "We are appalled by this resurgence of bigotry and anti-Semitism and the renewed vigor of the neo-Nazis, KKK and the alt-right."
At a combative news conference on Tuesday, Trump backed off from his Monday statements explicitly denouncing the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and white supremacists for the violence that erupted at a "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, and reverted to his weekend contention that "many sides" were to blame. "You had a group on one side that was bad," Trump said on Tuesday. "And you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. And nobody wants to say that. But I'll say it right now." Trump later said, "I think there is blame on both sides and I have no doubt about it," adding that there were "very fine people" on both sides.
Trump has been widely criticized for what was seen as a belated response to the violence in Charlottesville. In contrast, a day after the unrest and violence, Ivanka Trump tweeted: "There should be no place in society for racism, white supremacy and neo-nazis. We must all come together as Americans -- and be one country UNITED."
With reporting by Reuters.