Sinai Forum 2022

A thought-provoking blend of presentations and speakers, the 69th Sinai Forum season continues our tradition of exploring the most important issues of the day.


Rachel Barton Pine

Rachel Barton Pine

An Afternoon with Rachel Barton Pine

Sunday, December 4, 2022 – 4 p.m. (CT)

DSAC, Westville Campus

Violinist Rachel Barton Pine thrills audiences worldwide with her dazzling technique, lustrous tone, and landmark interpretations. She solos with leading orchestras–including the Chicago and Vienna Symphonies, and the Philadelphia Orchestra –and has performed on The Today Show, CBS Sunday Morning, and NPR’s Tiny Desk. Her 40 albums include the 25th anniversary re-release of Violin Concertos by Black Composers Through the Centuries (Cedille).

Her Rachel Barton Pine Foundation assists young artists and, since 2001, has run the Music by Black Composers project. She performs on the 1742 “ex-Soldat” Joseph Guarnerius del Gesu, on lifetime loan from her patron.

In both art and life, violinist Rachel Barton Pine has an extraordinary ability to connect with people. Celebrated as a leading interpreter of great classic and contemporary works, her performances combine her innate gift for emotional communication and her scholarly fascination with historical research. She plays with passion and conviction, thrilling audiences worldwide with her dazzling technique, lustrous tone, and infectious joy in music-making.

Pine performs with the world’s leading orchestras including the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Camerata Salzburg, and the Chicago, Vienna and Detroit Symphony Orchestras. She has worked with renowned conductors, including Teddy Abrams, Marin Alsop, Semyon Bychkov, Neeme Järvi, Erich Leinsdorf, Sir Neville Marriner, Nicholas McGegan, Zubin Mehta, Tito Muñoz, and John Nelson, and has collaborated with artists such as Daniel Barenboim, Christoph Eschenbach, and William Warfield.

Pine frequently performs music by contemporary composers, including major works written for her by Billy Childs, Mohammed Fairouz, Marcus Goddard, Earl Maneein, Shawn E. Okpebholo, Daniel Bernard Roumain, José Serebrier, and Augusta Read Thomas. She has premiered concertos written for her by Fairouz, Goddard, and Maneein. This season, she premieres “Violin Concerto No. 2,” written for her by Billy Childs through a co-commission by the Grant Park Music Festival, the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra, the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra, and the Interlochen Orchestra.

Pine’s virtual appearances during quarantine included performing Mozart Concerto No. 1 with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Domingo Hindoyan. At a Grant Park Music Festival event, she and Billy Childs offered a preview of his violin concerto. She joined New Mexico Philharmonic music director Roberto Minczuk for a conversation and performance celebrating their two-decade-long collaboration history. She was presented in recital by Barrington’s White House, the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra, Chamber Music Tulsa, Early Music Seattle, the Placitas Artists Series, and Portland Friends of Chamber Music, and she performed at a Washington Performing Arts tribute honoring Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She appeared on Ottawa Chamberfest Chamber Chats and on Daniel Bernard Roumain’s Hopkins Center for the Arts at Dartmouth series “Who We Are w/ DBR.” Her presentations on classical music by Black composers included the American String Teachers Association National Conference, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Soundpost series, Cornell University, the New World Symphony, the 92nd Street Y, Northwestern University, Sphinx Performance Academy, and Temple University.

From July to December 2020, she presented the live, weekly series “Family Fridays with RBP.” From January to June 2021, Pine performed the entire solo violin part of 24 different violin concertos, live and unaccompanied, for her weekly series “24 in 24: Concertos from the Inside with RBP.” Also in 2021, she led “RBP on JSB: the Bach Masterclasses,” joining Sphinx Laureates and other rising-star violinists representing schools including The Curtis Institute of Music, The Juilliard School, New England Conservatory, Oberlin Conservatory, Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, and Yale School of Music to work on Bach’s Six Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin. She also gave masterclasses for numerous organizations including the Chicago Youth Symphony, National Orchestral Institute, and Oberlin Conservatory of Music.

Pine’s prolific discography of 39 recordings includes Dvořák and Khachaturian Violin Concertos (Teddy Abrams and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra); Brahms & Joachim Violin Concertos (Carlos Kalmar and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra), and Elgar & Bruch Violin Concertos (Andrew Litton and the BBC Symphony Orchestra). Pine and Sir Neville Marriner’s Mozart: Complete Violin Concertos with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields and her Bel Canto Paganini both charted at number three on the classical charts. Pine’s Testament: Complete Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin by Johann Sebastian Bach and Violin Lullabies debuted at number one. Her Violin Concertos by Black Composers of the 18th and 19th Centuries was nominated for a 1997 NPR heritage award. Her recent Blues Dialogues is an album of blues-influenced classical works by 20th– and 21st-century Black composers.

Pine writes her own cadenzas and performs many of her own arrangements. With the publication of The Rachel Barton Pine Collection, she became the only living artist and first woman in Carl Fischer’s Masters Collection. She has appeared on The Today Show, CBS Sunday Morning, PBS NewsHour, Prairie Home Companion, NPR’s Tiny Desk, NPR’s All Things Considered, and Performance Today, and in the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, and the New York Times. She holds prizes from several of the world’s leading competitions, including a gold medal at the 1992 J.S. Bach International Violin Competition.

An active philanthropist, Pine has led the Rachel Barton Pine (RBP) Foundation since 2001. Early in her career, she noticed that young people learning classical music seldom have the opportunity to study and perform music written by Black composers. Over the last 20 years, Pine and her RBP Foundation’s Music by Black Composers (MBC) project have collected more than 900 works by 450+ Black composers from the 18th–21st centuries. MBC curates free repertoire directories on its website and publishes print resources, including pedagogical books of music exclusively by global Black classical composers and the Rachel Barton Pine Foundation Coloring Book of Black Composers. Additionally, the RBP Foundation assists young artists through its Instrument Loan Program and Grants for Education and Career. Pine also serves on the board of the Sphinx Organization and other not-for-profits.

She performs on the “ex-Bazzini, ex-Soldat” Joseph Guarnerius “del Gesù” (Cremona 1742), on lifetime loan from her anonymous patron.

Past Speakers

Elizabeth Gilbert

Elizabeth Gilbert – photo by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders

Elizabeth Gilbert

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

Sunday, September 18, 2022

DSAC, Westville Campus

In her critically acclaimed memoir “Eat, Pray, Love,” and her immensely popular novels and works of nonfiction, Elizabeth Gilbert expands our understanding of creativity, spirituality, and love. Whatever her subject— her own transformative experiences, the institution of marriage, or 1940’s showgirls—Gilbert writes with “a mix of intelligence, wit, and colloquial exuberance that is close to irresistible” (The New York Times Book Review). The woman Oprah Winfrey called a “rock star author” is among her generation’s most beloved and inspiring voices, with an avid international readership and devoted following.

In her critically acclaimed novels and immensely popular works of nonfiction, Elizabeth Gilbert expands our understanding of creativity, spirituality, and love. Whatever her subject— her own transformative experiences, the institution of marriage, or 1940’s showgirls—Gilbert writes with “a mix of intelligence, wit, and colloquial exuberance that is close to irresistible” (The New York Times Book Review). The woman Oprah Winfrey called a “rock star author” is among her generation’s most beloved and inspiring voices, with an avid international readership and devoted following.

Gilbert’s memoir, “Eat, Pray, Love”, exploded onto the scene in 2006. The #1 New York Times bestseller famously chronicled the year Gilbert spent traveling the world after a shattering divorce. Translated into more than 30 languages, it has sold over thirteen million copies, and was adapted into a 2010 film starring Julia Roberts and Javier Bardem. Following “Eat, Pray, Love,” Gilbert wrote “Committed: A Love Story,” a meditation on marriage as a sociohistorical institution.

In the years since, people around the world have looked to Gilbert for guidance in leading brave, authentic, and creative lives. Gilbert’s bestselling nonfiction treatise, “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear”, unpacks her own generative process and shares her wise, witty insights into the mysteries of curiosity and inspiration.

“Part inspiration, part how-to,” wrote The Washington Post, “[Big Magic] offers up both a philosophy of creativity and advice for living a more creatively fulfilling life.” Written in Gilbert’s “charming, personable, self-aware, jokey, conversational” voice (The New York Times Book Review) and with over one million copies sold, “Big Magic” underscores Gilbert’s status as a mentor for spiritual seekers and introspective explorers.

From the beginning of her writing career, Gilbert’s observant eye and abiding appreciation for her subjects has distinguished her work. Not merely a writer but also an explorer, she worked in a Philadelphia diner, on a western ranch, and in a New York City bar to scrape together the funds to travel. Her persistent longing to understand the world and her place in it led her “to create experiences to write about,” she says, “to gather landscapes and voices.”

Starting as a magazine journalist, she wrote articles published in Harper’s Bazaar, Spin, and The New York Times Magazine. Her work caught the attention of editors at GQ, where she soon became a stalwart, writing vivid, provocative pieces that grew into books and even a film: 2000’s Coyote Ugly. Gilbert was a finalist for the National Magazine Award, and her work was anthologized in Best American Writing 2001.

“I think my gift, far beyond whatever gifts that I have as a writer, my gift as a human is that I can make friends with people very quickly. Everything I learned about being a journalist I learned by being a bartender. The most exquisite lesson of all is that people will tell you anything. Want to. There’s no question you can’t ask if your intention is not hostile. And it’s not like entrapment; it’s more like a gorgeous revelation. People want to tell the story that they have.” —Elizabeth Gilbert

Though best known for these works of nonfiction, Gilbert is at her heart, an inventive storyteller. She is the author of “The Signature of All Things”, a sweeping story of botany, exploration, and desire that spans much of the nineteenth century which The New York Times Magazine called a “rip-roaring tale… unlike anything Gilbert has ever written”. Her latest bestseller, the novel “City of Girls”, is the “fiercely feminist” (Esquire) story of a young woman coming into her own in the theater world of 1940s New York. Populated by unapologetic women discovering that you don’t have to be a good girl to be a good person, the book’s “romp through 1940s Manhattan is a glorious, multilayered celebration of womanhood… an eloquently persuasive treatise on the judgment and punishment of women, and a heartfelt call to reclaim female sexual agency” (The Guardian). “City of Girls” debuted at #2 on The New York Times bestseller list, has sold nearly one million copies, and is currently in development at Warner Brothers as a major motion picture.

While her more recent work has grabbed the spotlight, Gilbert’s earlier books met critical acclaim. Her publishing debut, a collection of short fiction titled “Pilgrims”, was a New York Times Most Notable Book and won a Pushcart Prize, among other honors. Her first novel, “Stern Men,” won the Kate Chopin Award and her third book, “The Last American Man,” which explores America’s long-standing intrigue with the pioneer lifestyle, was a finalist for the National Book Award.

In her lectures Gilbert talks about her writing and seizing the opportunity to live a life guided by creativity rather than fear. Her TED Talk is among the top 25 most popular of all time with over 20 million views. Gilbert is also the founder and host of The Onward Book Club, which serves to spotlight, promote, celebrate, and uplift the work of Black female authors. She divides her time between New York City and New Jersey and is always working on something new.

Awards: 2019 Longlist, Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction, City of Girls 2014 Shortlist, Wellcome Book Prize, Signature of All Things 2002 Finalist, National Book Critics Circle Award, The Last American Man 2002 Finalist, National Book Award, The Last American Man 1998 Pushcart Prize, Pilgrims 1998 Best First Fiction Award, Paris Review, The Southern Review & Ploughshares, Pilgrims 4/5 Selected Writing City of Girls (Riverhead, 2019) Big Magic (Riverhead, 2015) The Signature of All Things (Viking, 2013) Committed (Viking, 2010) Eat Pray Love (Viking, 2006) The Last American Man (Viking, 2002) Stern Men (Houghton Mifflin, 2000) Pilgrims (Houghton Mifflin, 1997) Selected Contributions: The Call to Unite: Voices of Hope and Awakening (The Open Field, 2021) Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It (Riverhead, 2016).

Adam SavageAdam Savage

Every Tool’s a Hammer: Life is What You Make It

Sunday, October 2, 2022 – 4 p.m. (CT)

Stardust Event Center at Blue Chip Casino, Hotel & Spa

One of the most beloved figures in science and technology, Adam Savage has spent most of his life gathering skills that allow him to take ideas and make them real.

Titled “Every Tool’s a Hammer: Life Is What You Make It,” Savage will share his golden rules of creativity, curiosity and problem solving. He will share insights from his MythBusters journey through 40-plus years as a maker and creator.

From finding inspiration to following through on making an idea a reality, he encourages us to push the boundaries of what’s possible and provides a toolbox of techniques to achieve personal and professional success.

The son of a filmmaker/painter and a psychotherapist, Adam’s previous positions include projectionist, animator, graphic designer, carpenter, interior and stage designer, toy designer, welder, and scenic painter. And he’s worked with every material and in every medium he could fathom — metal, paper, glass, plastic, rubber, foam, plaster, pneumatics, hydraulics, animatronics, neon, glassblowing, mold-making, and injection molding to name just a few.

In 1993, Adam began concentrating his career on the special-effects industry, honing his skills through more than 100 television commercials and a dozen feature films, including Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace and Episode II: Attack of the Clones, Galaxy Quest, and the Matrix sequels.

A decade later, Adam was chosen along with Jamie Hyneman to produce and host MythBusters, which premiered on Discovery Channel in January 2003. Fourteen years, 279 episodes, 1,015 myths, 2,950 experiments, eight Emmy nominations, and 83 miles of duct tape later, that version of the series ended in March 2016.

Today, Adam hosts and executive produces MythBusters Jr. as well as a brand-new series, Savage Builds, which premiered on Science Channel in June 2019. He also stars in and produces content for his website, including behind-the-scenes deep dives into multiple blockbuster films (including Alien Covenant, Mortal Engines, and Blade Runner 2049).

In addition, after a lifetime of hunting for the perfect gear bag, Adam launched Savage Industries and began manufacturing his own along with MAFIA BAGS. Made in the United States and constructed primarily from recycled sailcloth, every bag is not only durable and lightweight but unique as well. The current line (available at includes two sizes of the EDC (“Everyday Carry”) and an assortment of pouches, with more product both available on the site and on the way.

Finally, in 2019 Adam finished his first book. “Every Tool’s a Hammer” is “a chronicle of my life as a maker. It’s an exploration of making and of my own productive obsessions, but it’s also a permission slip of sorts from me to you. Permission to grab hold of the things you’re interested in, that fascinate you, and to dive deeper into them to see where they lead you.” More information is available at

Adam lives in the San Francisco Bay area with his wife and their amazing dog.

Will Hurd

Will Hurd

American Reboot: An Idealist’s Guide To Getting Big Things Done

Sunday, October 23, 2022 – 4 p.m. (CT)

DSAC, Westville Campus

Called “the future of the GOP” by Politico, Will Hurd is a former member of Congress, cybersecurity executive, and officer in the CIA. In this program titled: American Reboot: An Idealist’s Guide to Getting Big Things Done, Hurd will present a path forward for America grounded by what he calls pragmatic idealism—a concept forged from enduring American values. Hurd will discuss five seismic problems facing our country: the Republican Party’s failure to present a principled vision for the future; the lack of honest leadership in Washington, DC; income inequality that threatens millions of Americans; US economic and military dominance that is not guaranteed; and a look at technological changes expected into the future.

It’s getting harder to get big things done in America. The gears of our democracy have been mucked up by political nonsense. To meet the era-defining challenges of the 21st century, our country needs a reboot.

In American Reboot, Hurd, called “the future of the GOP” by Politico, provides a clear-eyed path forward for America grounded by what Hurd calls pragmatic idealism—a concept forged from enduring American values to achieve what is actually achievable.

Hurd takes on five seismic problems facing a country in crisis: the Republican Party’s failure to present a principled vision for the future; the lack of honest leadership in Washington, DC; income inequality that threatens the livelihood of millions of Americans; US economic and military dominance that is no longer guaranteed; and how technological change in the next thirty years will make the advancements of the last thirty years look trivial.

Hurd has seen these challenges up close. A child of interracial parents in South Texas, Hurd survived the back alleys of dangerous places as a CIA officer. He carried that experience into three terms in Congress, where he was, for a time, the House’s only Black Republican, representing a 71 percent Latino swing district in Texas that runs along 820 miles of US-Mexico border. As a cyber security executive and innovation crusader, Hurd has worked with entrepreneurs on the cutting edge of technology to anticipate the shockwaves of the future.

Hurd draws on his remarkable experience to present an inspiring guide for America. He outlines how the Republican party can look like America by appealing to the middle, not the edges. He maps out how leaders should inspire rather than fearmonger. He forges a domestic policy based on the idea that prosperity should be a product of empowering people, not the government. He articulates a foreign policy where our enemies fear us and our friends love us. And lastly, he charts a forceful path forward for America’s technological future.

We all know we can do better. It’s time to hit “ctrl alt del” and start the American Reboot.

Will is a native of San Antonio and earned a Computer Science degree from Texas A&M University. Additionally, he is growing the US transatlantic partnership with Europe as a trustee of the German Marshall Fund, an OpenAI board member, and most recently served as a fellow at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics. He is also the author of “American Reboot: An Idealist’s Guide to Getting Big Things Done,” which was released in March 2022.

David Petraeus

Gen. David H. Petraeus, USA (Ret.)

A Look at the Geopolitical Landscape with General Petraeus

Sunday, November 13, 2022 – 4 p.m. (CT)

DSAC, Westville Campus

One of the most effective military leaders in recent U.S. history, General David H. Petraeus—a highly decorated four-star general, whose distinguished military career spanned over 37 years and culminated in six straight commands (five of which were in combat)—addresses the most significant global challenges facing us today, including ongoing international security issues, macroeconomic trends and the tasks of strategic leadership in the 21st century.

Gen. David H. Petraeus, USA (Ret.) is one of the most prominent U.S. military figures of the post-9/11 era. He has been described as a leading warrior-intellectual and “one of the great battle captains” in American military history. Following his military service, he served as Director of the CIA. He is now a Partner with the global investment firm KKR and Chairman of the KKR Global Institute.

During his 37-year career in the United States Army, General Petraeus served in Cold War Europe, Central America, the United States, Haiti, Bosnia, Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the greater Middle East and central Asia. He was most widely recognized for: his oversight of the organization that produced the U.S. Army’s counterinsurgency manual and overhauled all aspects of preparing leaders and units for deployment to combat; for his leadership of the Surge in Iraq; and for his command of coalition forces in Afghanistan. He culminated his military career with six consecutive commands as a general officer, five of which were in combat, a record believed unmatched in the post-World War II era.

A graduate with distinction from the United States Military Academy, General Petraeus is the only person in U.S. Army history to be the top graduate in both the U.S. Army’s challenging Ranger School and the year-long U.S. Army Command and General Staff College course. He also earned a Ph.D. in an interdisciplinary program of international relations and economics from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and later completed a fellowship at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. He taught both economics and international relations at the United States Military Academy in the mid-1980s and, after leaving government in late 2012, he was Co-Chairman of a Council on Foreign Relations Task Force on North America and a visiting professor of public policy at the City University of New York’s Macaulay Honors College for 3-1/2 years.

After General Petraeus’ retirement from the military, following confirmation by the Senate by a vote of 94-0, he served as Director of the CIA as the Agency played the central role in a number of achievements in the global war on terror, established a strategic campaign plan for the Agency, and pursued initiatives to invest additional resources in the Agency’s most important element, its human capital.

General Petraeus has been Chairman of the KKR Global Institute for over five years and a Partner with the firm for more than three-and-a-half years. He is also a member of the board of Optiv (a global provider of cyber security services), a Judge Widney Professor at the University of Southern California, a Senior Fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center, the Senior Vice President of the Royal United Services Institute, the Co-Chairman of the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Global Advisory Council, and a member of the boards of several other think tanks and over a dozen veterans service organizations.

Over the past dozen years, General Petraeus has been named one of America’s 25 Best Leaders by the U.S. News and World Report, a runner-up for Time magazine’s Person of the Year, the Daily Telegraph man of the year, Prospect magazine’s Public Intellectual of the Year, a Time 100 selectee, one of Foreign Policy magazine’s top 100 public intellectuals, and the recipient of the Madison Medal at Princeton University. He is a frequent commentator on global security and economic issues. In recent years, his pieces have been published in the Washington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Foreign Affairs, and Foreign Policy, and he has also appeared frequently on various TV news programs and documentaries.

General Petraeus has been awarded numerous U.S. military, State Department, NATO, and United Nations medals, including four awards of the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Bronze Star Medal for Valor, two awards of the NATO Meritorious Service Medal, the Combat Action Badge, the Ranger Tab, and Master Parachutist Wings. He has also been decorated by 13 foreign countries. And he is believed to be the only individual who, while in uniform, threw out the first pitch of a World Series game and did the coin toss at a Super Bowl.