Prominent Jewish surrogates for President Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney tackled domestic issues and foreign affairs during a cordial debate in Northern Virginia.
Robert Wexler, one of President Obama's closest Jewish confidantes, urged him to release Jonathan Pollard.
Robert Wexler, president of American Jewish University (AJU), eschews the labels of Judaism’s mainstream denominations. “I’m Jewish,” Wexler said last week. “Religious.”
We've been sitting at Starbucks over iced drinks for 20 minutes, and the subject of the University of Judaism (UJ) has yet to be brought up. We're schmoozing, Robert Wexler and I, and he asks a lot of questions about me -- where my grandparents are from, where I went to college, where my kids go to school. We talk about how parenting today is so different from how it was when we were each growing up, and we weigh the pros and cons of teens being tethered to their parents by the flip of a cell phone.
The high-profile defendant is a head of state accused of adultery and murder. The prosecutor is a trial veteran familiar to a nation of cable TV junkies enthralled by the O.J. Simpson case.
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.
A high-profile lecture series of top American and Israeli personalities is generating national attention and an unexpected financial bonanza. The university's continuing education arm is innovating new programs and drawing close to 10,000 participants. Enrollment in the young rabbinical school is running higher than anticipated.