In his keynote address at the Orthodox Union West Coast Torah Convention last weekend, Judge Daniel Butler told the crowd of 300 the harrowing tale of the difficult but celebrated life of his son, Mikey.
"Mikey's sign-off line was 'Day by glorious day,' said Butler, describing how Mikey spent his truncated life in and out of the hospital, coughing up phlegm in his lungs from cystic fibrosis.
Before he died earlier this year, at age 24, from lung transplant complications, Mikey graduated from Yeshiva University, where he was vice president of the student body. He was also a counselor at Camp HASC (a New York camp for children with special needs), a drummer in a band -- and his story inspired hundreds of Orthodox communities across the United States to pray and do good deeds in his merit.
Spiritualists, Dead Sea scholars and psychoanalysts are but a sampling of the varied menu of Jewish speakers that are to make scheduled appearances in Orange County over the next few months.
Jonathan Foer's award-winning book, "Everything Is Illuminated," is a fictionalized road trip to a Ukrainian shtetl, mirroring the young author's own family history quest. Crime fiction writer Rochelle Krich, the Orthodox daughter of Holocaust survivors, is starting a new series with the release of "Blues in the Night." Howard Blum, a former New York Times reporter, chronicles the clandestine World War II exploits of the British army's Jewish Brigade Group in "The Brigade."
This trio, along with five other visiting authors and several nationally known speakers, will share their stories and sign books in a series of O.C. events Nov. 7-24. Hundreds of autograph-hungry readers are expected at the fourth annual Jewish book festival, organized by Orange County's Jewish Community Center.
While the Bush administration's strong support for Israel might not yet be paying off dividends in the Middle East, the stance has certainly been a boon for local Jewish Republicans.