Palace Intrigue

Jared Kushner discusses Judaism and the role of God in his life

Kobi Gideon (GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Donald Trump are seen during their meeting at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem in 2017.

White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner discussed his family’s roots and his position as the grandson of Holocaust survivors who became a senior aide to a U.S. president in a wide-ranging interview with Jonathan Swan of Axios. The segment aired on HBO Sunday evening.

“It’s a great reminder of how great this country is, where my grandparents can be on the precipice of life or death and then come to this country and seventy years later, you know, their grandson is working in the White House,” Kushner said.

Kushner also defended Trump’s policy on limiting the number of refugees allowed to enter the U.S. while acknowledging that part of his success is thanks to his grandparents immigration to the United States as refugees fleeing persecution.  

“We inherited a crazy world,” Kushner explained.

Earlier in the interview, Swan questioned Kushner on the tension between his Jewish values and the character and decision-making process of his father-in-law. “There’s a lot more things I agree with him on than disagree,” Kushner replied, while stating that he’s been honest in delivering his disagreements in private.

Read a selection of the interview below:

Swan: I’m Jewish, you’re Jewish. To what extent does your Judaism inform how you live your life?

Kushner: Well, I think that the religion I have, in Judaism, is probably similar to what a lot of other religions give to people which is a code of values where you have to be judging yourself, make sure that what you’re doing always is the right thing and that you feel good about it.

Swan: Has your father-in-law ever challenged your values?

Kushner: In what regard?

Swan: Well, I mean, when you were on the campaign, you had Access Hollywood, there’s been other things you’ve had to deal with since then. I mean, like, it’s a sensitive question but I mean it in the sense of, ‘you’re a son-in-law, you’re a husband, you’re a senior advisor, does it make it sometimes harder to, to tell him the truth?

Kushner: No, I think he respects people who are willing to be honest with him. When I do disagree, you’ll never read that in press, and I won’t say it publicly, but I will say there’s a lot more things I agree with him on than disagree.


Swan: Ten years ago, you and Ivanka were a few months out from getting married. If I had time-traveled back then and I said to you, ‘In ten years time, in 2019, Donald Trump will be president and you, Jared Kushner, will be trying to negotiate peace in the Middle East.’ What would you have said to me?

Kushner: I would have said, absolutely no chance.

Swan: Do you ever reflect on that?

Kushner: What I have learnt is that we don’t just make the waves. We have to surf the waves as well as we can. God makes the waves. And so…

Swan: He’s made some pretty big ones for you.

Kushner: I think he has also given me the ability to handle the challenges and the opportunities that I have been faced with and presented with. I have learned from things in the past — from successes, from mistakes — and I just come in every day and try to do my best.

Subscribe now to
the Daily Kickoff

The politics and business news you need to stay up to date, delivered each morning in a must-read newsletter.