By Josh Nathan-Kazis | 29 January 2017
FORWARD — Jared Kushner’s family charities have given hundreds of thousands of dollars to a mystical Moroccan rabbi who some followers claim has miraculous powers.
The rabbi, David Chananya Pinto, is little known in the United States but has a coterie of wealthy backers. Two separate Kushner family foundations on whose boards Jared Kushner serves have given over $210,000 in grants to Pinto’s New York City study center.
It’s hard to square Donald Trump’s clean-cut, Modern Orthodox son-in-law with the white-bearded mystic who tells a story about a night in 1968 when his father got a ride from a second-century sage driving an Israeli-made station wagon.
Yet Kushner has shown an interest in Judaism’s mystical corners.
Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, plan to attend a Washington synagogue affiliated with the Chabad Hasidic group, a movement rooted in Jewish mysticism. And days before the presidential election, the couple visited the grave of the group’s former leader, where believers say prayers may be answered with miracles.
A spokesperson for Kushner would not comment on the foundations’ donations to Pinto’s charity. Pinto’s New York study center, Chevrat Pinto, did not respond to a request for comment.
The Kushner family are Modern Orthodox stalwarts, founders of a Modern Orthodox high school in New Jersey and members of Modern Orthodox synagogues. But while Modern Orthodox theology de-emphasizes the folk magic and mysticism found in some corners of Jewish tradition, magical beliefs have grown popular among rank-and-file Modern Orthodox Jews. […]