CJLL Classes

Jewish Education Class

Come for the Community, Stay for the Learning

The Bobbi and Vic Samuels Center for Jewish Living & Learning (CJLL) is a pluralistic community of Jewish adults who come together each week to learn, socialize, and add meaning to their Jewish lives and identity. Join us for rich, in-depth Jewish studies courses designed by local faculty as well as the Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning.

13th Annual Rice Jewish Studies Lecture Series

Insiders and Outsiders:  Examining the Modern Jewish Experience on Four Continents
These will take place via a hybrid method (in person and online).

Dr. Tamar Sella
Film, Music, and the Unfinished Story of Two Moroccan Jewish Artists
Wednesday, Oct 6 @ 7:00 PM

After reaching superstar status in North Africa, Moroccan Jewish singer Zohra El Fassia (1905-1994) was largely disregarded when she settled in an anti-Arab Israel circa 1964. Nevertheless, toward the end of El Fassia’s life, Moroccan-born filmmaker Haim Shiran (b. 1937) began tirelessly documenting the aging singer. In this lecture, Dr. Sella tells the interwoven stories of the singer and the filmmaker, and explores the ways in which together they formed new relationships to marginalized Moroccan Jewish histories.  She situates their story within the broader social and cultural history of Mizrahi Jews, or Jews from Arab and Muslim countries in Israel/Palestine.

Dr. Sella, a Samuel W. and Goldye Marian Spain Postdoctoral Fellow in the Program in Jewish Studies at Rice University, is an ethnomusicologist whose research takes an interdisciplinary approach to broadly investigate the intersections of performance, diaspora, and power. She is primarily interested in the relationship between Jewish diaspora, Mizrahi culture, and themes of race, gender and colonialism in the Middle East. Her current research is an ethnographic study of contemporary Mizrahi performance and cultural memory that seeks to illuminate the ways in which ongoing Jewish diasporic formations reframe colonial and racial logics in Israel/Palestine. Dr. Sella received a PhD in music from Harvard University in 2020 and a BA in music from UC Berkeley in 2011.

Dr. Daniella Farah
Creating Jewish Identity in Twentieth-Century Iran
Wednesday, Oct 13 @ 7:00 PM

Jews have lived in Iran for over 2,500 years, with a population of 100,000 at the community’s height in 1945. During the twentieth century, Iranian Jews experienced rapid upward mobility, participated in significant political and social movements, and integrated into several layers of Iranian society. This talk will explore the landscape of Jewish identity in Iran during the 20th century, with a special focus on Jewish-Muslim interactions, political engagement and aspirations, and the intersection of education and integration. As we examine how Iranian Jews navigated between their Iranian and Jewish identities in an era of new nationalisms, we gain insight into what Jewish emancipation and assimilation looked like in a Muslim-majority country.

Dr. Farah, a Samuel W. and Goldye Marian Spain Postdoctoral Fellow in the Program in Jewish Studies at Rice University, received her PhD in Jewish History from Stanford University in 2021. She works on the socio-cultural histories of the Jews of the Middle East. Her scholarship, which lies at the intersection of Jewish history, Middle Eastern history, education history, and transnational studies, examines interreligious encounters, national belonging, and Jewish identity formation in modern Iran and Turkey. She has been awarded several national grants and awards including a 2021 Salo Baron New Voices in Jewish Studies Award at Columbia and Fordham Universities and a 2021-2022 Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture Grant. Her article, “‘The school is the link between the Jewish community and the surrounding milieu’: Education and the Jews of Iran from the mid-1940s to the late 1960s,” was published in 2021 in the journal of Middle Eastern Studies. In addition to her research efforts, Dr. Farah is a passionate, award-winning educator with significant teaching experience.

Dr. Daniel Cohen
The End of Philosemitism? Reflections on Contemporary America and Europe
Wednesday, Oct 20 @ 7:00 PM

The postwar decades  (1945 to the present) have been good for the Jews: diminished antisemitism, unlimited acceptance of Jews in society, the recognition of the Holocaust as a tragedy with universal meaning,  are some features of this unprecedented “philosemitic” era in the United States and Europe. Recent manifestations of antisemitism on both sides of the Atlantic nonetheless beg the question: is the age of philosemitism over?

Daniel Cohen is the Samuel W. & Goldye Marian Spain Associate Professor of History at Rice University, and the author of In War’s Wake: European Refugees in the Postwar Order(Oxford University Press, 2011), among other publications. Dr. Cohen's areas of interest include modern France, modern Europe, and human rights and migration studies. He supervises graduate students working in the field of Modern European History, French History, human rights and internal law, as well as migration studies.

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Melton & More

Mindeleah Pollak
Joseph and His Brothers
Tuesdays, 9:30 AM - 10:30 AM | Oct 5 - Dec 14
Joseph is most favored by Jacob, his father. The coat of many colors given to him by his father causes the brothers to resent him. What happened to Joseph on that fateful day? Who sells him and to which group? What really happened to Joseph!
Bernice Heilbrunn Potvin
Israeli Law
Tuesdays, 10:45 AM - 11:45 AM | Oct 5 - Dec 14
This course will explore the Israeli legal system: Israeli law can be a unique combination of Torah values, Knesset laws, even British Mandate provisions. As we unpack and discuss the Israeli legal system, we will come to better understand Israel.
Nada Chandler
More Modern Jewish Authors
Tuesdays, 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM | Oct 5 - Dec 14
Modern Jewish Authors is a survey of prize winning and otherwise notable Jewish authors of fiction. All of them have achieved a measure of literary fame; some have even acquired a popular following.
Nancy Pryzant Picus
The Jewish Crown Continues
Thursdays, 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM | Oct 7 - Dec 16
Between The Wars” portrays the political, social and cultural changes that led to the genocidal war against the Jews.The class will look at political, social and cultural Jewish responses to gradual disenfranchisement, exclusion and expulsion.
Aaron Howard
Between Wars: Jews in Europe, Palestine and the US
Thursdays, 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM | Oct 7 - Nov 11
"Between The Wars” portrays the political, social and cultural changes that led to the genocidal war against the Jews.The class will look at political, social and cultural Jewish responses to gradual disenfranchisement, exclusion and expulsion.
Rabbi Barry Gelman
Jewish Social Justice
Thursdays, 11:15 AM - 12:15 PM | Oct 7 - Dec 16
What is Jewish Social Justice? Why Do Jews Do Social Justice? How do we balance between study and action? These are some of the questions we will grapple with in this groundbreaking course as we come to deepen our involvement in social justice.

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For more information, please contact our front desk at 713.729.3200.


Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning