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June 5, 2009
 

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Year 33, No. 42 June 5, President Obama meets with Judge Sonia Sotomayor in the Oval Office on May for a U.S. Supreme Court seat. By Ron Kampeas "It was impossible not to moved by her personal story," said Mark Pelavin, WASHINGTON (JTA)--Jewish groupsthe associate director of the Reform don'tendorseU.S.SupremeCourtnomi- movement's Religious Action Center. nees, at least in writing. "To see her mother sitting there and ThetearsandchokedsobswhenSonia thinkabout what this says about her Sotomayor accepted President Obama's and her country--the combination of nominationonMay26toldanotherstory, someone who grew up in a housing Packed into the room along with So- project, who has been on the bench tomayor's family, friends and colleagues for a long time, but who has been a were representatives of Jewish groups prosecutor as well, that combination that have consulted with the White is very powerful." House about prospective replacements "It was thrilling," said Sammie Mosh- for David Souter. enberg, the Washington director of the The story of her life--the daughter of National Council of Jewish Women. a Puerto Rican single mother from the It doesn't hurt that Sotomayor, 54, is Bronx, N.Y., whose ambitions knew no aposterchildforstrongJewish-Hispanic bounds--resounded with a community relations. In 1986, when she was in that has made the story of immigrant private legal practice, she joined one of triumph over struggle a template of the first young leadership tours of Israel Jewish American success, sponsored by Project Interchange, which Official White House photo by Pete Souza 21, five days before he nominated her is affiliated with the American~ Jewish Committee. Sotomayor so enjoyed the country-- its immigrant culture, its popular music influenced heavily by Jewish immigrants from Argentina and Brazil--that she made a return visit in 1996 when she was a federal judge, and recently joined a Project Interchange U.S.-Israel forum on immigration. In the process, she formed a lifelong friendship with Project Interchange founder Debbie Berger and her husband, Paul, who attended her swearing-in as a Manhattan appeals court judge in 1998. "She enjoyed Israel not just from an intellectual perspective, she liked the mu- sic and the people," Paul Berger told JTA. Richard Foltin, the legislative director Sotomayor on page 19A Editorials ................................ 4A i , Lyn Payne s Hanicke AGldbwar;~g(ml)e reditce/vesdtheb 202 jHeef~tageeeHuman By Lyn Payne change" from previous fund- Associate Editor raising models. The Federation and its The Jewish Federation of agenciestoutedthisandother Greater Orlando has launched accomplishments at their an- a special fundraising cam- nual meeting--renamed the paign called HelpDirectOr- Community Celebration-~ lando to shore up sponsored lastWednesdayattheHebrew programs facing cuts due to Day School in Maitland. After the recent economic down- CommunityRabbiArnySiegel turn, incoming president gaveaShavuot-themedD'Var Ian Robinson told the corn- Torah, former president Dick munity on May 27. HelpDirect Appelbaum dischargedoutgo- will focus on Federation and ing, and installed incoming, agency programs at risk of officers; Robinson andagency being eliminated because of representatives summed up lack of funding; it's part of the the year's highlights; and the Federation's redesigned"21st Federation and the Jewish century" fundraising model Community Centerpresented that will "connect with the their awards. next generation of leaders Heritage editor and pub- and donors." Robinson cited lisher Jeff Gaeser presented a recent study that predicted volunteer extraordinaire one-third of the non-profits Hank Goidberg with this in Central Florida would go year's Heritage Human Ser- out of business by the end vice Award, saying that Gold- of this year, and said that berg "unselfishly volunteers HelpDirect represents a "one hundred eighty-degree Meeting on page 20A By Sue Fishkoff SAN FRANCISCO (JTA)-- It's official: The newestAmeri- can Girl doll is 9-year-old Rebecca Rubin, a Jewish- American girl who lives with her family on Manhattan's Lower East Side in 1914. The much-anticipated lat- est addition to the American Girl series of historical char- acters, Rebecca goes on sale May 31 along with six books about her life. No cheap date, she costs $95 with one book, or $118 if accompanied by the complete set. Rebecca joins 14 other historical dolls in the series-- from Kaya, a Nez Perce girl set in 1764, to African-American Addy, a Civil War doll, to World War II-era Molly, part of an Irish immigrant family. Her unveiling will include a tie-in at the Tenement Museum in 61111!!!!!ll!!!!!lllls JTA "Rebecca" is the new- est doff in the well-known American Girl series and she's Jewish. New York City and a harbor cruise with "kosher-style" food, according to USA Today. She's a feisty girl, our Re- becca. In one book she rescues her cousin Anna from the top of a stalled Ferris wheel. In another she marches in a garment workers' strike and gives an impassioned speech about labor rights. But she also cooks, crochets and dreams of becoming a movie star, just like a proper lass. Rebecca lives with her Russian-immigrant parents, siblings and grandparents in a Lower East Side row house, just a step up from the tene- ments of Orchard Street, and they struggle mightily to save boat fare to bring more family over from the Old Country. The Jewish blogosphere has been floating guesses about her name, release date and details of her life for more than a year with an intensity that belied her insensate status. She is, after all, just a doll, albeit a soft-bodied, large and quite beautiful one. But Jews love history, especially their own, and Jewish parents hip to the American Girl for- mula of nicely made dolls and well-written books about the period of American history they represent wanted a piece of their own people's story to give their daughters. "This is our history, right here in this doll, "says author Meredith Jacobs of Rockviile, Md., host of "The Modern Jewish Morn" on The Jewish Channel. Jacobs' family is also from Eastern Europe, and her Uncle Saul's dreams of becoming an actor were dashed by family pressure to enter the cantorate. Jacobs plans to buy Rebecca and her books for her 13 -year- old daughter, Sophie, even though she's just beyond the target demographic. "I want her to read the books and talk to my parents about our history," Jacobs says. "I don't think people who aren't Jewish think about how big a deal it is for a main- stream doll company to make something Jewish." Rebecca confronts many of the same dilemmas faced by today's American Jewish chil- dren as they navigate between tradition and modernity. In "Candlelight for Rebecca, "her teacher asks the class to make Christmas centerpieces, and Doll on page 19A The sign on the door last at that time, the family still week said it all: "Closed per- had hopes of continuing the manently." operation, but in May of this Amira's Kosher Restaurant year that hope hadxun out. and Catering, an institution in "With 30 years of Serving Jewish and non-Jewish Central kosher and only kosher in this Floridaforthreedecades, isnow community the current state officially closed. Owners Jerry of the global and domestic and Amira Cohen and their economy is too much for a sons Albert and Justin found it local family business to last too difficult to do business in a without capital for restruc- foundering economy. Over the ture andnew products," Justin lastfewmonths, the family had Cohen told the Heritage. He sought investors, and had tried hopes to start a gourmet ko- new ventures such as selling sher butcher shop and cafg in their own branded chopped the Lake County area. Albert liver in other venues, but the Cohen, whomanagedAmira's, new momentum couldn't keep and his wife Amy, who also up with the financial shortfall, worked there, are also look- Amira's was a true Jewish ingfornewjobopportunities. community institution, and Meanwhile, Jerry and Ami- the Cohens and their staff ra Cohen are still available werefixturesatsynagogueand for catering at homes and organizational functions, and synagogues; Amira can work private parties and bar mitz- directly with customers in vahs, for years. The Heritage their homes to help prepare first reported the financial meaisorkasherkitchens.She troubles the business was ex- can be contacted at 407-832- periencing in the fall of 2008; 6543 or 407-832-6544.