Wandy Wang Druss was born in Chiayi in southern Taiwan and moved to the Dominican Republic when she was 12 when her Taiwanese father and mother went there for their professional work. Two years later, when she was 14, she and her parents landed in America. Today, Druss is president of the Orloff Central Agency for Jewish Education in Florida, which develops and provides educational programs for the Broward Jewish community. How do I know all this? A letter to the editor in English published in the Taipei Times recently, penned by Lewis Druss, Ms. Wang Druss’s Jewish-American husband, explained the entire backstory for readers in Taiwan.
“As an 11-year-old girl living in Taipei, Wandy attended Penglai Elementary School, where she won a citywide essay and calligraphy contest. Her father, Chan-hsiung Wang , moved the family to the Dominican Republic when he took a position there as an irrigation engineer when she was 12 years old. Two years later, the Wangs moved to the U.S.”
According to her husband, an attorney, Wandy still speaks to her parents in Hoklo Taiwanese, a dialect language from Fujian Province in mainland China, somewhat similiar to Yiddish in the way it is used in Taiwan in the 21st century, and she also uses Mandarin when necessary ”and is cherished by the local Jewish community in Florida.
The couple have two biracial children, both recent college graduates: one from Dartmouth College and the other from Brandeis University. Mrs. Wang Druss herself has two master’s degrees and works as the director of continuing education for health sciences at Broward College in Florida.
There’s a cute story here, too.
“A few years ago, a female family friend, who is Jewish and is a judge in the Broward County court, was talking to Wandy about kosher dietary laws — the old Jewish religious practice still followed by Orthodox Jews of only eating foods that are permissible and avoiding those that are not according to an ancient set of Jewish laws,” Lewis Druss told readers of the Taipei Times in his letter published on March 13, 2012. “This friend knows Wandy’s background and knows that her Taiwanese-born parents were not Jewish. Nevertheless, she asked if her parents kept a kosher home when she was growing up. After saying this, they both paused and burst out laughing.”
Added Wandy’s husband: “Wandy, although looking as Taiwanese as any other Taiwanese woman, so easily fits in that people no longer see her physical appearance, but instead see her inner character.”
There’s more: “She also feels as comfortable eating Shabbat dinner at a Hasidic rabbi’s house as she does buying something from a pushcart street vendor in Taipei. She has an enthusiasm and passion for kindness that draws people to her and energizes them, regardless of their ethnicity. She understands and relates to the essence of the Jewish soul and Jews embrace her as one of their own. The Jewish population of Broward County and the people of Taiwan have someone they can both be proud of.”