It’s an interesting question. I did not wear a kippah at the time, but now I do full-time. A lot of it has to do with my kids. I just couldn’t really explain why I don’t wear it in the office. When I was growing up – I went to Ramaz – it seemed that people didn’t wear a kippah at the office. Now I think we’re just in a different phase.
So you wore a yarmulke while working for Romney?
Yes, including when I met with him, when I went on TV, etc.
When did you make the switch?
I actually started towards the end of the Bush administration. I brought everyone in for a family photo with President Bush and the kids were wearing kippot, so I wore a kippah too. And then I would bring my kids to work occasionally and in some ways it was more awkward to take it off with my kids there.
You know, at what point do you put it on and at what point do you take it off? It just didn’t seem to make sense to me anymore. Do you do it when you get into the car? Do you do it when you get on the subway? Do you do it when you get off the subway? I just couldn’t figure out the rationale for it.
And, you know, fortunately we live in a great country where there’s relatively little anti-Semitism. I’ve had no repercussions from it. Very few gentiles even mentioned it.
Your brother is a presidential historian at McGill University who, like you, writes books on American history. Is there any sibling rivalry between the two of you?
No, he’s written 10 books, so I’ll never catch up to him. He’s a great prolific historian and I’m honored to have him as a brother.
How did an Orthodox Jewish family from Queens manage to produce two distinguished buffs of American history?
My father taught American history at a public school in Queens, and we both had a love for it.