Sinai Forum 2020/2021

A thought-provoking blend of virtual presentations and in-person speakers, the 2020-2021 Sinai Forum season continues our tradition of exploring the most important issues of the day.

Tickets for the 2021 season will likely go on sale in June 2021. Two additional speakers will be named in spring 2021.

Virtual Speakers 2020

Anthony Rizzo

Talking Baseball with Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs First Baseman

September 19, noon to 1:15 p.m. (CDT)

Request the Recording

Registrations for the live lecture closed at noon on Friday, Sept. 18. You can still sign up to receive a recorded version—available for 30 days after each program!

Anthony Rizzo, first baseman for the Chicago Cubs, is a three-time National League All-Star and three-time National League Gold Glove Award winner. In 2016, he led the Cubs to their first World Series Championship in 108 years. Rizzo was named the recipient of the 2017 Roberto Clemente Award, annually given to the player who best represents the game of baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy, and positive contributions, both on and off the field. Rizzo, Baseball commentator Dan Plesac on airovercame Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2008 and established The Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation in 2012 to support pediatric cancer patients and their families. Anthony Rizzo is considered by many to be one of the most respected players in Major League Baseball.

Interviewer: Dan Plesac (right), a Crown Point native, 18-year Major League Baseball veteran and MLB Network analyst.

Anthony Rizzo is the All-Star first baseman for the Chicago Cubs. At the young age of 31, he is already one of the most decorated players in Cubs’ history, both on and off the field. In 2016, he led the Cubs to their first World Series Championship in 108 years.

Rizzo was selected by the Boston Red Sox in the sixth round of the 2007 MLB draft and became a top minor league prospect in the Red Sox organization. He was traded to the San Diego Padres after the 2010 season along with three other prospects in exchange for All-Star first baseman Adrián González. He made his MLB debut in 2011 with the San Diego Padres. After being traded to the Cubs in 2012, he developed into an All-Star player, appearing in the All-Star Game three times, winning the Silver Slugger Award, winning three Gold Glove Awards, a Platinum Glove Award and the Roberto Clemente Award in 2017.

The Roberto Clemente Award is given annually to the player who best represents the game of baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy, and positive contributions, both on and off the field. Through his philanthropic ventures, Rizzo has also won the Heart and Hustle Award and the Branch Rickey Award. He is considered by many to be one of the most respected players in Major League Baseball, both on and off the field

In 2008, Anthony’s first year in professional baseball, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.  He went through chemotherapy for six months. His grandmother was battling breast cancer at the same time. On September 2, 2008, Rizzo’s doctor told him he was in remission, though he still had six weeks left of treatment and some follow-up testing. On November 18, Rizzo’s doctor told him he “could live a normal life.”

In 2012, after joining the Cubs,  the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation was founded. The Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, whose mission is to raise money for cancer research and support families with children battling cancer. The Foundation is run entirely by Rizzo’s family, his close friends, and his management team. Rizzo and his wife Emily, provide oversight and leadership. In August 2017, the Foundation announced a $3.5 million endowment to the Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, bringing its total donations to the hospital to more than $4 million. In 2019, another endowment was announced in the amount of $1.0 million benefitting Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital. The Foundation now raises over $3 million dollars a year.  

Anthony grew up in Florida and attended Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. On February 15, 2018 Rizzo delivered an emotional speech at the vigil for the school shooting victims in Parkland, Florida. Rizzo is a graduate of the school and a longtime Parkland resident. “I grew up at Stoneman Douglas [High School],” an emotional Rizzo said.

Anthony Rizzo and his wife Emily married in 2018 and still live in South Florida during the baseball offseason.


Jonathan Rauch

On Free Speech and Cancel Culture

October 11, 4 to 5:15 p.m. (CDT)

Reserve a Space

Can’t make the live program? Register now to receive a recorded version—available for 30 days after each program!

Jonathan Rauch is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington and is the author of seven books and many articles on public policy, culture, and government. He is a contributing writer for The Atlantic and recipient of the 2005 National Magazine Award, the magazine industry’s equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize. Rauch, who is currently working on a book tentatively titled The Constitution of Knowledge will join us to discuss the idea of cancel culture and the “unending battle” for free speech.

Jonathan Rauch is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington and the author of seven books and many articles on public policy, culture, and government. Rauch, who is currently working on a book tentatively titled The Constitution of Knowledge will join us to discuss the idea of cancel culture and the “unending battle” for free speech.

He is a contributing writer for The Atlantic and recipient of the 2005 National Magazine Award, the magazine industry’s equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize. His latest book is The Happiness Curve: Why Life Gets Better After 50.

In 2013, he published Denial: My 25 Years Without a Soul, a memoir of his struggle with his sexuality, brought out as an eBook from The Atlantic Books. His previous book was Gay Marriage: Why It Is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America, published in 2004 by Times Books (Henry Holt). His most recent ebook is Political Realism: How Hacks, Machines, Big Money, and Back-Room Deals Can Strengthen American Democracy (Brookings, 2015). Although much of his writing has been on public policy, he has also written on topics as widely varied as adultery, agriculture, economics, gay marriage, height discrimination, biological rhythms, number inflation, and animal rights.

His multiple-award-winning column, “Social Studies,” appeared from 1998 to 2010 in National Journal. Among the many other publications for which he has written are The New Republic, The Economist, Reason, Harper’s, Fortune, Reader’s Digest, Time, The New York Times, The New York Daily News, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Post, Slate, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Public Interest, National Affairs, The Advocate, The Daily, and others.

In his 1994 book Demosclerosis—revised and republished in 2000 as Government’s End: Why Washington Stopped Working—he argues that America’s government is becoming gradually less flexible and effective with time and suggests ways to treat the malady. His 1993 book Kindly Inquisitors: The New Attacks on Free Thought (published by the University of Chicago Press; expanded in 2013) defends free speech and robust criticism, even when it is racist or sexist and even when it hurts. In 1992 his book The Outnation: A Search for the Soul of Japan questioned the then-conventional wisdom that Japan was fundamentally different from the West.

In 1996, with Robert Litan, he also co-authored a report for the U.S. Treasury Department on the future of the financial-services industry (American Finance for the 21st Century). In 1995 he spent a year as a visiting writer for The Economist magazine in London, and in 1997 he returned as guest editor of the Christmas special issue.

Rauch was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, and graduated in 1982 from Yale University. He went on to become a reporter for the Winston-Salem Journal in North Carolina before moving to Washington in 1984. From 1984-89 he covered fiscal and economic policy for National Journal. In 1990 he spent six months in Japan as a fellow of the Japan Society Leadership Program.

In addition to the National Magazine Award, his honors include the 2010 National Headliner Award, one of the industry’s most venerable prizes. In 1996 he was awarded the Premio Napoli alla Stampa Estera for his coverage, in The Economist, of the European Parliament. In 2011 he won the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association prize for excellence in opinion writing. He has also won two second-place prizes (2000 and 2001) in the National Headliner Awards. His articles appear in The Best Magazine Writing 2005 and The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2004 and 2007. He has appeared as a guest on many television and radio programs. He does not like shrimp.


Steve Wozniak

Technology and Innovation

Tickets on Sale Spring 2021         

A Silicon Valley icon and philanthropist for more than thirty years, Steve Wozniak has helped shape the computing industry with his design of Apple’s first line of products the Apple I and II. In 1976, Wozniak and Steve Jobs founded Apple Computer Inc. with Wozniak’s Apple I personal computer. The following year, he introduced his Apple II personal computer, featuring a central processing unit, a keyboard, color graphics, and a floppy disk drive. The Apple II was integral in launching the personal computer industry. For his achievements at Apple, Wozniak was awarded the National Medal of Technology by the President of the United States in 1985, the highest honor bestowed on America’s leading innovators.

A Silicon Valley icon and philanthropist for more than thirty years, Steve Wozniak has helped shape the computing industry with his design of Apple’s first line of products the Apple I and II. He also influenced the popular Macintosh. In 1976, Wozniak and Steve Jobs founded Apple Computer Inc. with Wozniak’s Apple I personal computer. The following year, he introduced his Apple II personal computer, featuring a central processing unit, a keyboard, color graphics, and a floppy disk drive. The Apple II was integral in launching the personal computer industry.

In 1981, he went back to UC Berkeley and finished his degree in electrical engineering/computer science. For his achievements at Apple, Wozniak was awarded the National Medal of Technology by the President of the United States in 1985, the highest honor bestowed on America’s leading innovators.

In 2000, he was inducted into the Inventors Hall of Fame and was awarded the prestigious Heinz Award for Technology, The Economy and Employment for single-handedly designing the first personal computer and for then redirecting his lifelong passion for mathematics and electronics toward lighting the fires of excitement for education in grade school students and their teachers.

Through the years, Wozniak has been involved in various business and philanthropic ventures, focusing primarily on computer capabilities in schools and stressing hands-on learning and encouraging creativity for students. Making significant investments of both his time and resources in education, he adopted the Los Gatos School District, providing students and teachers with hands-on teaching and donations of state-of-the-art technology equipment. He founded the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and was the founding sponsor of the Tech Museum, Silicon Valley Ballet and Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose.

In 2014, he was awarded the Hoover Medal, a prestigious honor given for “outstanding extracareer services by engineers to humanity,” and was inducted into the IndustryWeek Manufacturing Hall of Fame.

Wozniak is a published author with the release of his New York Times best-selling autobiography, iWoz:

From Computer Geek to Cult Icon by Norton Publishing. His television appearances include: ABC’s Dancing with the Stars and The Big Bang Theory, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Conan, and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. In October 2017, Steve co-founded Woz U.


Paul Nicklen

Into the Icy Realm

Tickets on Sale Spring 2021

Paul Nicklen is a Canadian photographer, filmmaker, and marine biologist who has documented the beauty and the plight of our planet for over twenty years. In addition to being one of the world’s most acclaimed nature photographers, Nicklen is a sought-after speaker, a TED Talks legend, an author, and National Geographic Fellow. In the past two decades, Paul has collaborated with scientists, filmmakers, conservationists, and explorers to create awareness and inspire action for global issues like climate change. As an assignment photographer for National Geographic magazine, Nicklen captures the imagination of a global audience.

Paul Nicklen is a Canadian photographer, filmmaker, and marine biologist who has documented the beauty and the plight of our planet for over twenty years. As an assignment photographer for National Geographic magazine, Nicklen captures the imagination of a global audience.

Nicklen is uniquely qualified to create his brand of documentary photography which informs and creates an emotional connection with wild subjects in extreme conditions. His work delivers audiences to an underwater realm witnessed by few. Nicklen’s sensitive and evocative imagery has garnered over 30 of the highest awards given to any photographer in his field, including the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year and the prestigious World Press Photo for Photojournalism. In November 2019, Nicklen was the youngest person ever inducted into the International Photography Hall of Fame (IPHF).

He is equally recognized by the conservation community for his outspoken work, and has been awarded the Natural Resources Defense Council BioGems Visionary Award. Most recently, Nicklen was bestowed an honorary PhD at the University of Victoria, for the impact his photography has had on climate change.

In addition to being one of the world’s most acclaimed nature photographers, Nicklen is a sought-after speaker, a TED Talks legend, an author, and National Geographic Fellow. In the past two decades, Paul has collaborated with scientists, filmmakers, conservationists and explorers to create awareness and inspire action for global issues like climate change.

As a co-founder of the non-profit, SeaLegacy, Paul Nicklen is opening a fresh, progressive chapter in the story of ocean conservation. Through visual storytelling, Sea Legacy inspires millions.


Dr. Max T. Eisen, LL.D. (Hon.)

By Chance Alone: A Remarkable True Story of Courage and Survival at Auschwitz

Tickets on Sale Spring 2021

Max Eisen is Holocaust Survivor and a passionate speaker and educator who has shared his story of courage with thousands of people in an effort to warn of the dangers of hatred and discrimination in society and to promote understanding.

Max (Tibor) Eisen was born in Moldava, Czechoslovakia in 1929 into a large orthodox Jewish family.  His extended family including parents, two younger brothers and baby sister, his paternal grandparents and uncles, aunts and cousins all perished in Auschwitz-Birkenau Death Camp in May of 1944.  The maternal side of his family was deported from Slovakia in 1942 to Majdanek-Lublin Death Camp where they also perished.

Eisen attended both public and Hebrew schools in Moldava and the first ten years of his life are remembered as a normal childhood with all the amenities that good parenting and extended family provides. Life changed dramatically as Hungary occupied the eastern part of Slovakia in March of 1939, when “racial laws” were constituted against the Jewish population.  This led to dehumanization, segregation, and confiscation of businesses. All Jews had to wear the Yellow Star of David for visibility. Finally, the deportation to the death camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau came in May of 1944.

Eisen survived slave labor in Auschwitz, Mauthausen, Melk and Ebensee Camps and was forced to go on a Death March in January of 1945 where thousands died from exposure to severe weather conditions and malnutrition. He was fortunate to find a discarded paper cement bag, which he wore under a flimsy shirt to protect himself from freezing. After thirteen days of the withering march, without food or water, the group reached a bombed railway bridge over the Danube River at Mauthausen Austria. They were forced to cross the bridge on foot. He made it across, but many did not have enough strength to avoid missing sections and fell to their deaths in the icy waters.

Eisen was liberated at Ebensee Concentration Camp in Austria on May 6, 1945 by the 761st Black Panther Tank Battalion of the United States Army; (the first black fighting unit attached to General Patton’s 3rd Army Corps).

Following liberation, Eisen was determined to return to his family home with the hope of finding family members that might have survived and would take care of him. On arrival at his home, he discovered that it was occupied by neighbors. He was made to feel unwelcome. The realization set in that at the age of sixteen he was homeless and alone in the world.

Eisen found himself in a Jewish orphanage in Marienbad, Czechoslovakia organized for surviving teenagers by the American Joint Distribution Committee, where he spent three years recovering from his ordeal. He was allowed entry into Canada as a displaced person and arrived in Toronto in October of 1949 and was a ward of the Jewish Family and Child Services.  Through this organization, he was helped to get clothing, a place to stay and work.  He learned English at night school by reading books and newspapers. Through increasingly more responsible jobs and applying his own resourcefulness, he gained the experience necessary to start his own manufacturing company by 1964. The business prospered and eventually employed up to 65 people. Eisen retired in 1992 after a successful business career and as a respected pioneer in his industry.

A high-profile court case in Toronto in 1985 involving a holocaust denier motivated him to get involved with the Holocaust Education Centre of Toronto as a speaker/educator.  Eisen committed himself in 1991 to teaching about the dangers of hatred and discrimination in society and promoting understanding between community groups.

Today Eisen is involved in extensive speaking engagements in various venues such as schools, universities, television, and newspaper interviews.  As evidenced by the many letters of appreciation he has received, his talks have had great impact in vividly and effectively bringing the horrors of the past into the present moment, so that his audiences can experience and understand the significance of his story.

Since 1998, Eisen has participated in the ‘March of the Living’, a commemorative group march on Holocaust Remembrance Day, from Auschwitz to Birkenau Concentration Camps in Poland. Between 10,000 and 20,000 people from around the world are coming annually on this March. Heads of State of many nations attend this memorial service to remember and pay respect to the victims of the Holocaust, and to reaffirm their commitment to never again be silent when acts of cruelty and genocide are occurring anywhere in the world. Eisen has led municipal, provincial, and federal politicians, university students, and teenagers in his capacity as an appointed survivor speaker/educator. On these occasions, Eisen returns to the site where he and his own family were unloaded from cattle cars and he, as a fifteen year old teenager, was selected for slave labour, while the rest of his family was marched to their deaths.