Over Presidents Day weekend last year, nearly 500 Jews of all affiliations holed up at the Hilton hotel in Costa Mesa to attend virtually round-the-clock lectures, workshops, musical performances and more. Volunteers serving as speakers covered the growth of European Jewry, alternative Jewish travel in the West Bank and whether morality can be achieved without God, among other topics. They were all participants of LimmudLA, the annual Jewish conference for study and community.
On Presidents Day, while remembering Washington and Lincoln, perhaps take a minute as well for Stern. Little known outside of bibliophiles and Civil War buffs, one of the greatest private collectors of works about Abraham Lincoln was a Jewish clothing manufacturer executive from Chicago named Alfred Whital Stern. About three score and one year ago, in 1950, a world of time before shows such as “Antique Road Show” brought collecting to the public’s attention, and films such as “National Treasure,” put Americana in vogue, Stern donated his world-class collection of rare Lincoln books, papers and memorabilia to the Library of Congress.