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Smithsonian Institution to Show Activist’s Unconventional Kipah

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Scott Svonkin will shortly send his yarmulka to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., — and thereby hangs a tale.

Before Svonkin headed for the Democratic Convention in Chicago, his brother Craig handpainted two leather yarmulkas and presented them to him.

One was brightly colored and carried the inscription “Clinton ’96.” The other, more subdued, was decorated with “Clinton,” flanked by a donkey and a Star of David.

The yarmulkas created quite a stir at the convention and Scott was busy posing for press photographers and fending off would-be buyers.

In a quiet moment, two gentlemen approached Svonkin and identified themselves as historians working for the Smithsonian. Part of their job, explained one, was to attend both the Republican and Democratic conventions every four years and collect off-beat examples of political Americana.

The Smithsonian reps were greatly taken by the yarmulkas, one vowing that he had never seen anything so lovely. Could they have one for display at the Smithsonian?

Now back home in Los Angeles, Svonkin is about to send the more colorful yarmulka to Washington, while rejecting a similar request from the Chicago Historical Society.

Svonkin, 31, works as national manager for sales training with a health insurance company, and splits his free time between Jewish and Democratic causes. His mother, Paula, runs a kosher catering enterprise.

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