Sandy Koufax at the White House? Talk about Jewish royalty.
The Obama White House is holding the first – ever reception honoring Jewish Heritage Month tonight, and the unreleased guest list suggests something new in presidential Jewish outreach. There’s an interesting cross section of Jewish athletes, columnists, writers, scholars and social innovators – but a noticeable lack of big-name Jewish organization pooh-bahs.
Koufax, the Dodgers Hall of Fame pitcher and all-time top Jewish sports hero, will be chowing down with the Obamas, along with Kerri Strug, an Olympic gymnast and Demitriy Salita – the Orthodox boxer.
Then there’s author Judy Blume and both Tom Friedman and David Brooks from the New York Times editorial page.
Eli Winkelman, founder, Challah for Hunger, will be there, and so will Susie Fishbein and Joan Nathan, Jewish cookbook authors.
The military will be represented, as well, by Lt. Gen. Jack Rives, chief judge advocate of the Air Force.
Others we know about: Lauren Strauss, a professor of Judaic studies; Laurie Strongin, author of “Saving Henry”; Dara Torres, a five-time Olympian swimmer; rabbi and author Harold Kushner; WNBA player and coach Nancy Lieberman; Laurie Ann Goldman, CEO of Spanx; and Shawn Landres, chief of Jumpstart, a California group devoted to Jewish innovation.
Also: Rabbi Marc Schneier of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, OU Washington director (and former Obama basketball buddy) Nathan Diament and Miriam Shapiro, the youth president of the NCSY.
Oh yeah, and Mindy Finkelstein, the 16 year-old Los Angeles JCC shooting victim.
Jewish Heritage Month was first celebrated in 2006, thanks to persistent efforts by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), but Schultz was less successful in getting the White House to mark the event with a party – until now.