Bobbi and Vic Samuels Center for Jewish Living & Learning Spring Scholars Series

Our annual spring series provides an academic lens through which to explore some of the most pressing issues in the greater Jewish community.

Sessions explore a variety of topics of social and political relevance through lectures and discussions that incorporate Jewish, Houston, Israeli and personal perspectives.

Israel at 70: Gender, Economy, and Education

April 8-15, 2018

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Sunday, Apr 8 | 4:30 PM
Dr. Rachel Harris, Associate Professor of Israeli Literature and Culture, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
Feminists in Sheitels – The Cinema of Religious Women Filmmakers

In recent years, religious women have begun making films about their lives and community for a public audience. The effort to critique the treatment of women within a religious cultural system opens these women to attack both from patriarchal religious authorities as well as secular feminists. This talk discusses religious women’s artistic modes of resistance and empowerment, considering ways in which religious feminists attempt to advance their situation without being forced to erase their religious identities.

Thursday, Apr 12 | 7:30 PM
Dr. Avi Weiss, Executive Director, Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel
The Start-Up Nation: is it enough?
Despite Israel’s well-known high-tech successes, income inequality remains high in the Start-Up Nation. What are the main drivers behind the widening gaps and what’s being done to try and close them? This talk will address these questions and others to shed light on the opportunities and challenges facing Israel's society and economy as it celebrates its 70th birthday. 

Sunday, Apr 15 | 4:30 PM
Brachie Sprung, Director, International Office of Jerusalem Partnerships, Leichtag Foundation 
Bridging Gaps: Jerusalem's Educational System
Jerusalem’s educational system serves over 280,000 students of multiple religious and ethnic backgrounds and is almost as large as the entire population of Tel Aviv. This system is reflective of a new narrative of identity in Jerusalem, in which no one group is a majority or a minority. In this talk we will explore trends and opportunities in the city’s varied school districts, using education as a lens through which to understand the ways in which Jerusalem addresses the needs of its ever-diversifying population.


Patrons of the Arts taking benefits can receive entry, depending upon your level. You can reserve your seats online or contact Judy Weil at or 713.551.7219.

For more information, please contact Nomi Barancik at or 713.595.8190.