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      Costa Rica Elects First Female President, Jewish VP

      A Central American nation has chosen its first female president, and a Jewish vice president, in national elections this week.
      By Hana Levi Julian
      First Publish: 2/9/2010, 9:22 AM / Last Update: 2/9/2010, 5:08 PM

      Israel news photo

      The Central American nation of Costa Rica has chosen its first-ever female president and its first-ever Jewish vice president in national elections held Sunday.

      President-elect Laura Chinchilla, a social conservative, was elected by a wide margin, as was Vice-President-elect Luis Lieberman, the child of Polish immigrants.

      Lieberman, whose grandfather was a mohel (a rabbi who carries out ritual circumcisions), is the son of parents who came to the country before World War II. On election day, he was busy on both the political and paternal fronts, celebrating his own grandson's brit mila (circumcision) hours before he received the news that he had become the nation's vice president.

      Lieberman reportedly maintains a traditional Jewish lifestyle. A well-known financier and a former banker, Lieberman is also close with Chabad-Lubavitch Rabbi Hershel Spalter of San Jose, according to the Chabad-Lubavitch Chassidic movement's website, Lubavitch.com.

      The newly-elected Jewish vice president insisted in an interview, however, that Jews have served in prior Costa Rican governments, and his religion was not a factor in his candidacy. There are approximately 3,000 Jews living in Costa Rica, in a total population of 4.2 million.