Business moguls, bioethicists, journalists and policy experts top the lineup for the Hebrew Center Summer Institute Speaker Series this year.

The popular summer lecture series kicks off Thursday, July 5 at 7:30 p.m. The first speaker will be Nicco Mele, director of the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. He will lead a talk is titled Media, Politics, and Power in the Digital Age.

Journalist Marvin Kalb, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, speaks on July 12.

Mr. Mele will be followed on July 12 by journalist Marvin Kalb, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and senior advisor at the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

Bioethicist Ruth Faden is scheduled to speak on July 19. Her topic is titled The Ethics of Eating: Can We Eat Our Way To A Better World? Ms. Faden is founder of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics.

“People always like to have an ethical perspective,” said Bruce Eckman, a former professor at New York University who is chairman of the series this year. “I know the topic is a little off-center, but a whole group of people wanted a celebrity chef who could talk about food, and I felt this would be a fun way to touch that base,” he told the Gazette.

Mr. Eckman takes over for Joe Bower, who ran the institute for the past four years. He said this year’s program will see a shift in themes.

“My goal was to look at the big picture nationally; what new issues are coming up that you have to address, and then get people who would fit into that,” he said. “The whole program will speak to the summer institute audience in different ways.”

Some speakers will be more focused on current events, including two who share the same last name.

On July 26 Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, will speak on Hate and Extremism in America: Trump and Beyond.

Bioethicist Ruth Faden is scheduled to give a talk titled The Ethics of Eating on July 19.

“He does things that are controversial, he does things that are risky, but he gets results at the same time,” Mr. Eckman said.

David S. Cohen, former deputy director of the CIA, will compare the Iran and North Korea sanction efforts when he takes the stage on August 2.

On August 9 the series concludes with Steven Rattner, an investment banker and former President Obama’s car czar, who led the effort to restructure and rescue the automobile industry after the 2008 financial collapse. Mr. Rattner is also a longtime West Tisbury summer resident.

Mr. Eckman said the institute never fails to stir lively summer conversation.

“The audiences are a group of people who are very intelligent, who stay on top of what’s happening, and ask great questions,” Mr. Eckman said. “The next morning’s coffee is always more interesting and thought-provoking.”

The institute also sponsors a Sunday night film series.

The series will open on Sunday, July 8 at 7:30 p.m. with Keep the Change, a romantic comedy that follows a couple who meet at their Jewish Community Center support group in New York city. While most of the films concern Jewish characters or subjects, they are wide-ranging in both genre and scope. The second film on the slate is Emmy-award winning director Samuel D. Pollard’s documentary about the life of Sammy Davis Jr. On August 8 the institute will show RBG, the box office hit about the life of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. The Caretaker, winner of best film at the Jerusalem Film Festival, will close out the series on August 19.

Viewers can purchase tickets at, or at the door on the night of the showings subject to availability. 

For complete information on the summer institute, visit