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Menorah and MoVeRs present the fascinating documentary “Arguing the World” and talkback with Professor Matthew Hoffman at the Boulder JCC on Sunday.

A Brilliant (and Influential) Mind

“What rules the world is idea, because ideas define the way reality is perceived.” – Irving Kristol*

Menorah and MoVeRs: Jewish Mavericks, Visionaries and Rebels present the fascinating documentary “Arguing the World” (1998, directed by Joseph Dorman), with a talkback with Professor Matthew Hoffman, at the Boulder JCC, 3800 Kalmia on Sunday, February 21 at 7 pm.  Tickets ($8; $6 for BJCC members; free for students with ID) are available at the door.

At a time when people listened to what great thinkers had to say, Irving Howe, Daniel Bell, Nathan Glazer and Irving Kristol, who died in September, were considered four of the most brilliant and influential minds of their time, men who tried to make radical changes with their own thoughts. Given the anti-Semitic quotas and high tuitions of Ivy League universities, the four Jewish friends began their intellectual careers at City College in New York in the 1930s and continued to play a vital role in intellectual debates about McCarthyism, the New Left in the 1960’s, and the Reagan revolution in the 80’s.

Matthew Hoffman is assistant professor of Judaic Studies and History at Franklin & Marshall College, where he teaches courses on Jewish history, literature and religion. He is currently conducting research on debates between communists and socialists in the Yiddish press in America in the 1930s and ‘40s.

This enthralling film creates a vivid picture of intellectual life in the 20th century. For more than half a century, Irving Howe, Daniel Bell, Nathan Glazer and Irving Kristol have all passionately believed that ideas can change the world – especially their ideas.”  – Documentary Films.Net

* When Irving Kristol died at the age of 89 on September 18, 2009 he was described by The Daily Telegraph as being “perhaps the most consequential public intellectual of the latter half of the 20th century.” Karl Rove called  Kristol an “intellectual entrepreneur who helped energize several generations of public policy thinkers.”

For more than six decades, beginning in 1942, when he and other recent graduates of City College founded Enquiry: A Journal of Independent Radical Thought, his life revolved around magazines. Besides The Public Interest, Mr. Kristol published, edited and wrote for journals of opinion like Commentary, Encounter, The New Leader, The Reporter and The National Interest.

Known for his way with words, Kristol is remembered often through quotes. In probably his most widely quoted comment Kristol defined a neoconservative as a liberal who had been “mugged by reality.” Also popular in Jewish circles: “The danger facing American Jews today is not that Christians want to persecute them but that Christians want to marry them.”

For Kristol’s own story in his own words, visit http://www.pbs.org/arguing/nyintellectuals_krystol_2.html.

About Kathryn Bernheimer

Director of Menorah: Arts, Culture and Education at the Boulder JCC. The former film and theater critic for the Boulder Daily Camera, Kathryn is the author of "The Fifty Greatest Jewish Movies" and "The Fifty Funniest Films of All Time."

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