Thursday, May 27, 2010
Koufax Wows White House Reception
by Debra Rubin

Photobucketobama Pictures, Images and Photos

Forget the president. Baseball great Sandy Koufax was the draw at Thursday afternoon’s White House reception in honor of Jewish American Heritage Month.

Those attending swarmed Koufax — the former Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodger, a hero to many in the Jewish community for his refusal to pitch on Yom Kippur — and he was the only guest President Barack Obama singled out in his remarks.

“This is a pretty — pretty fancy group here, pretty distinguished group. We’ve got senators and representatives. We’ve got Supreme Court justices and successful entrepreneurs, rabbinical scholars, Olympic athletes — and Sandy Koufax,” Obama told the some 200 attending. “Sandy and I actually have something in common — we are both lefties. He can’t pitch on Yom Kippur; I can’t pitch,” the president continued to laughter.

President George W. Bush had established May as Jewish Heritage Month in 2007, and Obama has continued with the tradition. This year, however, was the first time the White House hosted an event in recognition. Obama told the crowd — which prior to the formal program had mingled and noshed on kosher food.

True, there were the guests whom one might expect at such an event: Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, Solicitor General (and Supreme Court nominee) Elena Kagan, Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren; senior White House officials Dan Shapiro, actor/singer Theodore Bikel, and Greg Rosenbaum, Empire Kosher Poultry CEO (who sported a tie patterned with tiny chickens on it).

Alyssa Stanton, the first black woman to be ordained a rabbi by a mainstream rabbinical association, read Emma Lazurus’ “The New Colossus,” the poem engraved at the base of the Statue of Liberty.

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