Rice University Jewish Studies Lecture Series

The Zionist Evolution: Reinterpreting Prevailing Ideas About Israel

October 15, 18 & 22, 2017
At the Evelyn Rubenstein JCC

President Truman and the Birth of Israel

Sunday, Oct 15 | 4:00 PM
Presenter: Allen Matusow

From his first days as president in 1945 until the  the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, Harry Truman found himself torn between his national security advisers, who opposed Zionism,  and his political advisers, who urged him to  back a Jewish state.

This lecture will tell the story of the struggle over Zionism within the US government, Truman's vacillations, and his historic decision only minutes after its birth to grant the new state recognition. 

The Rise of Diaspora: The Negation of the Negation of Exile

Wednesday, Oct 18 | 7:30 PM
Presenter: Dr. Melissa Weininger

The state of Israel was built on the idea of homeland, a permanent center that would end thousands of years of exile. Zionism posited a simple equation: Israel good for the Jews, diaspora bad.

But in recent years both American and Israeli writers and scholars have begun to re-evaluate diaspora and its value. We will look at recent literature that explores the changing meaning of diaspora and homeland in Israeli culture and Zionist thought.

Exodus and Beyond: Israeli Culture in American Jewish Life Before 1967

Sunday, Oct 22 | 4:00 PM
Presenter: Dr. Joshua Furman

Using film clips, images and sound, this lecture explores the central place of Israel and Israeli culture in American Jewish life from the founding of the state to the Six-Day-War.

This talk challenges two widely-held assumptions: first, that Israel failed to capture the attention of American Jews until its dramatic triumph in the 1967 war; and second, that the American Jewish cultural output of the 1940s and 1950s was trite and inconsequential.
In these decades, American Jews turned to Israeli culture and causes to infuse their Jewish lives with purpose and vitality. We will also give attention to events and developments here in Houston.


$7 Member | $10 Public per Lecture
$18 Member | $27 Series Pass

FREE for Patrons of the Arts and Students Registered in the Melton & More Program. Please email Nomi Barancik at directly to reserve your spot.


PLEASE NOTE: Unfortunately elevators at the J will not be functioning at the time of this program. Wheelchair access will only be possible through the ramp by the Kaplan Theatre. We sincerely apologize for this inconvenience.

Lectures will be held at the Evelyn Rubenstein JCC. This series is organized in part by the Program in Jewish Studies at Rice University and is made possible by the Maurice Amado Foundation.


For more information please contact Nomi Barancik at or 713.595.8190. 

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