Bill Clinton, Ann Coulter, James Carville -- over the years American Jewish University's top-notch lecture series has hosted plenty of people who have infuriated plenty of people.
But evidently, when it comes to being infuriating, Karl Rove is in a class unto himself.
A new bookshelf, overflowing with volumes, testifies to Gady Levy's latest and perhaps most ambitious endeavor: the Celebration of Jewish Books, which begins on Monday and extends through an all-day festival on Sunday. The celebration will offer lectures and signings with 40 authors -- including big names, such as Larry King, Michael Chabon, Kirk Douglas and Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket) -- plus music and dance performances, food and a thousand titles for sale, provided by Borders and the Hebrew-language bookseller Steimatzky.
Gady Levy, vice president in charge of the Department of Continuing Education at the University of Judaism (UJ), likes to talk about how "all over the place" he is. It is true that as he talks about the new opportunities offered up by the merger between UJ and the Brandeis-Bardin Institute (BBI), he verbally skitters between programs and philosophies and a zillion new ideas he has. But it is also true that all of his scattered energy focuses in on one goal: enriching people's lives through Judaism.
Gady Levy, the dean of continuing education at the University of Judaism, faces a question familiar to Broadway and Hollywood producers.
Acuity, passion, the ability to hold several conflicting ideas at the same time, a wide-ranging and detailed understanding of the world we live in, and an ability to articulate a broad intellectual and moral vision -- watching Bill Clinton last Monday night at the Universal Ampitheatre made me realize how much I miss these attributes in a president.
This is not a criticism of George W. Bush. I imagine he would be the first to acknowledge, with some pride, that he's no Bill Clinton. Among the crowd that pressed to touch flesh with Clinton in a post-speech reception, several people admitted that Clinton would probably have done no better, and maybe worse, than Bush in executing the war against Al Qaeda. Different men, different strengths and weaknesses.
But last Monday night, it was Clinton's gifts that were on display.