It all began with a Purim spiel. Seven years ago, the much-loved New Yorker magazine writer Adam Gopnik was living in a kind of secular New York Jewish limbo.
It's a Friday night and an overflow crowd is jammed into the penthouse of the former May Co. store on Wilshire Boulevard -- now Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) West -- to hear a conversation between French journalist and philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy and The New Yorker's Adam Gopnik.
Presiding over this abundance of intelligence is Paul Holdengräber, the founder and director of LACMA's Institute for Art and Cultures (IAC). Holdengräber is erudite, worldly, self-deprecating and all the more charming for being so, equal parts Joel Grey in "Cabaret," and Humphrey Bogart in "Casablanca."