On Saturday, January 14, UCSB Arts & Lectures and the Taubman Symposia in Jewish Studies at UCSB co-presented a talk by Bernard-Henri Lévy. Prior to the talk, Erck Rickmers, German shipping magnate, politician, and major supporter of both Arts & Lectures and the Taubman Symposia, and his wife Cristina Rickmers, hosted a lovely and fascinating dinner at the Biltmore Four Seasons Resort for Lévy and about 60 guests of the two organizations.
Lévy is a philosopher, writer, filmmaker and activist. According to Vanity Fair, “he is somewhere between gadfly and tribal sage, Superman and prophet.” It has dubbed him and his wife, Arielle Dombasle, the most famous couple in France. At the lecture following the dinner, Lévy discussed his new book, The Genius of Judaism, in which he presents his understanding of what it means to be a Jew and the threat posed by the global resurgence of anti-Semitism.
Guests mingled in the Biltmore’s intimate and elegant El Mar Dining Room with BHL, as Lévy is affectionately known in France, and Daphne Guinness, fashion designer and heir to the brewing company. Once seated for the three-course meal, guests were welcomed by Richard Hecht, professor of Religious Studies at UCSB and chair of the Taubman Symposia Program Committee. Rickmers expressed his enormous gratitude to Hecht, as did UCSB Executive Vice Chancellor David Marshall, who thanked Hecht “for being the intellectual guiding spirit of the Taubman Symposia for 20 years.”
Lévy, clad in his characteristic dark suit and open-collar white shirt, began by explaining that his “book tour” is limited to New York and Santa Barbara and that he is so grateful for this nice, welcoming evening. As for his book, Lévy stated that of the close to 40 books he has written, this is probably the one to which he has committed himself the most. He discussed some of the themes in his book, including his fear for Jews today because of the tide of anti-Semitism invading all countries. He answered at length a few questions from guests and thoroughly delighted everyone with his insight and charm.
The talk at Campbell Hall was a free event. For a list of the incredibly diverse events offered by UCSB Arts & Lectures, go to artsandlectures.sa.ucsb.edu. The co-presenter of the event, the Herman P. and Sophia Taubman Foundation Endowed Symposia in Jewish Studies, sponsors conferences, lectures, performances, residencies, and exhibits. For more information, go to ihc.ucsb.edu/endowments/taubman/.
Send event invites to Gail at firstname.lastname@example.org.