Not long before the couple’s engagement this week, New York had a chance to sit down with Ivanka Trump and talk to her about Jared Kushner, the Observer-owning young real-estate magnate for whom she converted to Judaism. “Good luck with Ivanka,” Jared e-mailed before the interview. “She is a superstar and you will enjoy your time with her.”
Ivanka and Jared appear, genuinely, to be very much in love. “Jared is my best friend for many reasons, largely because I’ve allowed him to see who I truly am and he still loves me. I don’t feel like I have any defensive walls built up around me,” Ivanka says. “He’s so kind as a human being, I look up to him,” she said. “He’s a bit of a hero of mine. His ability to remain focused — he lacks an anxiety that’s natural for someone his age handed so much responsibility Sometimes I catch myself looking at him and being thankful that I have grown to a level of personal maturity that I would value so much the qualities he has.”
“We met through mutual friends,” she told me. “We started dating pretty quickly after we met. It still felt like a slow process — a courtship, if you will.” Jared’s Orthodox Jewish background presented a challenge to the relationship, but Ivanka has worked hard to show Jared’s parents that she embraces Judaism. This week, she completed her conversion, after studying under Rabbi Lookstein at K.J on the Upper East Side. (Before this, they could not be officially engaged.) This spring, for instance, Ivanka attended a benefit for the Mikvah, the traditional Jewish bath, in Jared’s hometown of Livingston, New Jersey, with his mom, Seryl, and his two sisters, Nicole and Dara. One attendee reported that Seryl introduced Ivanka to friends solely as “Ivanka,” and not as Jared’s girlfriend.
In terms of their time together, Ivanka says they mostly like spending weekends at home. “It’s very rare we’re featured out at some fancy restaurant on a date,” she said. “We’re very mellow. We go to the park. We go biking together. We go to the 2nd Avenue Deli. We both live in this fancy world. But on a personal level, I don’t think I could be with somebody — I know he couldn’t be with somebody — who needed to be ‘on’ all the time.” “I don’t think we’ve ever been to a nightclub together in two years,” she added. “I’m really thankful for that. I have a lot of stamina, but I don’t think I have the stamina to work as hard as I do and play that hard.” One of their favorite activities is to group friends together for dinner parties. “I’ve learned how to cook,” Ivanka said. “Once a week, we have a night in and I cook for just the two of us. We turn everything off and spend time together and talk about what we’re working on.”
During the week the couple juggles their frenetic work schedules. “We’re both crazed,” Ivanka says. “The good news is, there’s not a tremendous amount of compromise, because we’re in the same industry. There are a lot of work-oriented dinners that he may have — and while a normal girlfriend in an unrelated field would find it incredibly boring — it’s fascinating to me.” Though their offices are blocks apart, they never have had lunch together. “Another thing that I think is incredible about him, which I think some girlfriends would not like, but I respect, is every night when he goes home, he works for about an hour and a half and return e-mails he hadn’t had a chance to return before. He’s just very diligent … Even when we first started dating, I’d call him at 6 [a.m.] when I’m getting up, and he’d be awake; he’d definitely be awake when I was going to sleep. And all Sunday he’s in the office.”
Ivanka also talked about joining the Kushner family. She mentioned Jared’s relationship with his father, Charlie. “It’s really beyond beautiful,” she said. “His sibling as well. It’s so natural for them to extend themselves in any way they can to support each other. That’s not totally natural. I’ll joke with my brothers I wish we had the capacity to be as giving and selfless. They’re my best friends, but we can be pretty selfish.”
The couple, she said, won’t be going into business together anytime soon. “I think it’s healthy to have a separation in our interests. My mother and father worked together. Whereas I love being able to talk business with my father, I don’t know if I’d want to have a difference of opinion come between me and my boyfriend, or me and my husband, or whatever it may be. And, neither of us would naturally assume a secondary-type role.”
“He’ll be a great father,” she told me. “He knows how to prioritize what’s important.”
Related: Read Gabriel Sherman’s profile of Jared Kushner in this week’s New York.