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Kushners get to fly on Air Force One on the Sabbath

JERUSALEM (RNS) When it comes to Jewish observance, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump may be in a class of by themselves.

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump depart Air Force One with their children in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Feb. 10, 2017. Photo courtesy of Reuters/Carlos Barria

JERUSALEM (RNS) When it comes to Jewish observance, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump may be in a class by themselves.

An unnamed rabbi gave the couple, both Orthodox Jews, special dispensation to fly to Saudi Arabia on Air Force One with President Trump on Friday night, Politico reported, quoting a White House official.

It’s the second time the couple is known to have received a dispensation to travel during the Jewish Sabbath. They were allowed to ride in the presidential motorcade on the night of Donald Trump’s inauguration, which also fell on the Sabbath.

Orthodox Judaism prohibits traveling in vehicles after sundown on Friday night until Saturday night. The prohibition does not cover life-threatening emergencies, including when a woman goes into labor.

Religiously observant Israeli leaders have sometimes received dispensations to conduct urgent business on the Sabbath, and soldiers and other security personnel can carry out tasks like driving and  writing that are ordinarily forbidden.

In her book “Women Who Work,” Ivanka Trump, who underwent an Orthodox conversion in 2009, wrote about how her family observes Shabbat.

“During this time, we disconnect completely — no emails, no TV, no phone calls, no Internet. We enjoy uninterrupted time together and it’s wonderful,” she said.

Trump’s nine-day trip, the first since he became president, will take him to Saudi Arabia, Israel, the Vatican and other parts of Europe. Kushner reportedly organized much of the visit to Saudi Arabia, the first stop on Trump’s itinerary.

(Michele Chabin is RNS’ Jerusalem correspondent)