By Rabbi Yair Hoffman for 5tjt.com
Sadly, it was reported today that Ivana Trump, who is the mother of former President Donald Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump was found “unconscious and unresponsive” in her New York City home. She had unfortunately fallen down a flight of stairs. She was 73 years old.
Her daughter Ivanka had undergone a geirus a number of years ago. Some may be asking the question as to whether she may or should halachically sit Shiva, or arrange for kaddish.
The Tur, the Shulchan Aruch and the Ramah in Yore Deah Siman 374:5 rule that a ger does not sit shiva on a parent because the conversion renders the child as a child who was just born and the familial relationship in terms of the laws of mourning was severed.
However, this is interpreted by many commentaries to mean that they are not obligated to mourn. The Z’kein Aharon written by Rav Aharon Walkin zt”l writes in his responsum (Vol. II Siman 87) that it is permitted to either recite or arrange for Kaddish of a parent – even if the parent had not converted. Rav Ovadiah Yoseph in Yechave Daas (Volume VI #60) comes to the same conclusion, as does Rav Moshe Shternbuch shlita (Teshuvos v’Hanhagos Vol. II #43). If she wishes to do so, she may observe the laws of Shiiva and that of Shloshim. However, the prohibition of learning Torah does not apply.
There is a Rashba on the Gemorah in Brachos 16a that Rabban Gamliel received tanchumim on the passing of his servant Tevi. This is a proof to the aforementioned positions.
This author had heard it on good authority that the former Ivana Zelnikova may have been halachically Jewish and could be considered a safaik in this regard. If this is true, then she should definitely sit shiva out of a safaik
This author had posed a number of such questions in regard to geirim to HaGaon haRav Dovid Feinstein zt”l who had responded that a Ger should make considerable effort to ensure that his father or mother not be cremated but rather buried in the ground. He also ruled that arranging for the recitation of Kaddish or reciting it himself definitely benefits the soul of the deceased.
May Ivanka be comforted among the rest of the mourners of Zion and Yerushalayim.
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