(CNN) — Ivanka Trump split off from the group traveling with President Donald Trump in Warsaw to pay tribute Thursday to Polish Holocaust heroes.
Ahead of the President’s speech, Trump, who serves as an adviser to the President, laid a wreath at the Monument to the Ghetto Heroes and toured the POLIN Museum of the History of the Polish Jews, according to deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. No press accompanied her on her visit, and the media was not made aware of the visit until after she had visited.
Ivanka Trump posted a photo of the wreath laying and called the experience “deeply moving” in a statement provided by the White House.
“It was a privilege to pay my respects and remember, with gratitude, those who tenaciously fought against all odds. The monument, erected on the rubble of the Warsaw Ghetto, symbolizes the fight for freedom. I am profoundly grateful for those who fought and all those who continue to fight today,” she said in the statement.
President Donald Trump was criticized for not visiting the Monument to the Heroes of the Warsaw Ghetto himself, breaking a decades-long precedent. Trump was in Poland for less than 18 hours.
Leaders of three prominent Jewish organizations in Warsaw, including the chief Rabbi of Poland, issued a statement criticizing Trump for not visiting the monument. The statement was issued prior to his daughter’s visit.
“Ever since the fall of communism in 1989, all US presidents and vice-presidents visiting Warsaw had made a point of visiting the monument to the heroes of the Warsaw Ghetto. They did this in the name of the American people, who had played such a central role in bringing down fascism, and in that of the universal commemoration of the victims of the Shoah (Holocaust), and condemnation of its perpetrators, that people of all nationalities and religions express,” it reads in part. “We deeply regret that President Donald Trump, though speaking in public barely a mile away from the monument, chose to break with that laudable tradition. We trust that this slight does not reflect the attitudes and feelings of the American people.”
Trump did, however, have one defender in Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, who is also a former congressional candidate and reality TV star, who attended Trump’s speech in Warsaw and wrote a supportive statement on Facebook.
“When it comes to fighting genocide and standing with Israel, President Trump has been admirable and deserves our thanks,” he wrote in part.
The first daughter, who converted to Orthodox Judaism ahead of her 2009 marriage to Jared Kushner, previously toured the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe when in Berlin in April, and made a solemn visit to the Western Wall when in Jerusalem in May.
She speaks about her faith very rarely, calling conversion “a very personal decision” in an interview with Fox News last month.
“I tend to not talk about my faith too openly. It’s one of the few things in my life that is truly my own, especially these days,” she said, adding that her religion serves as “a great reminder of core values.”
The visit comes amid a wave of anti-Semitism in Europe and at home in the United States, where there were 100 threats to Jewish community centers in January and February, according to CNN reporting. The Anti-Defamation League Audit of Anti-Semitic incidents, published in late April, showed the occurrences had increased by 34% nationally from 2015 to 2016.
When JCCs received a wave of bomb threats in late February, Ivanka Trump spoke up, tweeted that “America is a nation built on the principle of religious tolerance. We must protect our houses of worship & religious centers. #JCC.”
Trump was present for her father’s speech in Warsaw’s Krasinski Square, and continued to Germany on Air Force One, where the President will participate in the G20 summit. She has been involved in preparation for the summit, including remarks he will give in a session on women’s economic empowerment.