12th Annual Rice University Jewish Studies Lecture Series


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Beyond Heschel: Racial Justice & Jewish Responsibility in the 21st Century

Hands of Many Colors

Wednesdays, Sept 9, 16, 23 & 30 I 7:00 PM | ONLINE

Within the Jewish community, discussions of race are often framed by the context of Jewish participation in the civil rights movements of the 1950s and '60s. But what has happened in the 55 years since Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.? This lecture series will examine the complex history of Black-Jewish relations in America and the South, in order to better understand the challenges facing Black America today and to address the Jewish responsibility in combating systemic racism.

Blacks and Jews: Re-Visiting Alliances and Arguments in Light of Recent Uprisings for Racial Justice

Wednesday, Sept 9 I 7:00 PM I ONLINE
Dr. Cleve Tinsley IV, Research Fellow, Religion and Public Life, Rice University; Assistant Professor of History, Religion and Africana Studies, Virginia Union University 
Matthew H. Russell Ph.D., Co-Managing Director projectCURATE 
Brandi Holmes, Co-Managing DirectorProject Curate

This presentation seeks to foster conversation around some of the old alliances and everyday tensions that have plagued Black-Jewish relations in America since at least the 1960s. We will explore broad themes relating to race, religion, and Black-Jewish relations. More specifically, we will address recent issues like Black Anti-Semitism, Jewish anti-Blackness, and Black-Jewish solidarity in light of contemporary uprisings for racial justice. We will also discuss possibilities for broader cultural healing and social transformation by considering how our two communities can account for and heal the rifts that have formed between us.

Cleve Tinsley

Matthew Russell Brandi Holmes
Dr. Cleve Tinsley IV Matthew H. Russell Ph.D   Brandi Holmes

Black-Jewish Relations in the Lone Star State: Lessons and Perspectives from Texas Jewish History

Josh FurmanWednesday, Sept 16 I 7:00 PM I ONLINE
Dr. Joshua Furman, Curator, Houston Jewish History Archive at Rice University 

With the help of archival resources, we will examine the history of African American-Jewish relations here in Houston and across Texas.  We will meet Jewish leaders in Texas who spoke out against lynching and marched in Selma to defend Civil Rights.  We will encounter African American leaders who worked to build bridges with Jewish Texans and create social change.  We will also discuss moments of tension that have driven these communities apart, and consider what lessons can guide our thoughts and actions in the present.

Starting at Home: Building an Intercultural Jewish Community While Becoming Anti-Racist

Yolanda Savage-NarvaWednesday, Sept 23 I 7:00 PM I ONLINE
Ms. Yolanda Savage-Narva, Executive Director, Operation Understanding DC 

The Jews of Color Field Building Initiative's Counting Inconsistencies: An Analysis of American Jewish Population Studies, with a focus on Jews of Color estimates that 12-15% of the American Jewish population self-identifies as non-White (a Jew of Color-JOC).  The presentation by Yolanda Savage-Narva will highlight the need for the Jewish community to actively work on becoming anti-racist at home and in the broader community, while creating a place of belonging for Jews of Color.


Rabbi David SegalRace, Voting Rights & The 2020 Election

Wednesday, Sept 30 I 7:00 PM I ONLINE
Rabbi David Segal, Religious Action Center & 
Sarah Labowitz, Policy & Advocacy Director, ACLU of Texas

Voting is at the core of our democracy and is the right of every citizen in the U.S. However, voter suppression efforts continue to be widespread, and continue to disproportionately affect the Black community and people of color. In a year plagued by a pandemic, ensuring a fair and safe election isSarah Labowitz especially critical. Learn what is happening on the ground in Texas to counter voter suppression, and what the Jewish community can do to help.

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For more information please contact Rabbi Samantha Safran at

This series is made possible in part by the Program in Jewish Studies at Rice University and by The Maurice Amado Foundation.

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