Katie Webber

Rice College: Martel

Degree: B.A.

Major: Religion; Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Minor: Jewish Studies

I came to the program in Jewish Studies because of a research project on LGBTQ Jewish students, which I was pursuing for my major in Women, Gender, and Sexuality. I wanted to have a better background in Jewish Studies before doing research with Jewish participants, and so I took JWST 348: Sex and Gender in Jewish Culture. From there I realized how much I loved the program, the wonderful professors, and the challenging new material. I spent my next summer in Israel with a grant from the program, purrsuing more LGBTQ Jewish research that informed a senior thesis.

In the fall of 2018, I enrolled in Dr. Furman's course JWST 325: Jewish Houston. This was the first history course I had taken since coming to Rice and I was enchanted by the focus on decentering the traditional American-Jewish narrative from solely the East coast and exploring the richness of the Jewish experience "West of Hester Street." Early on in the semester I applied to work with Dr. Furman in the Houston Jewish History Archive and began work as an Archival Processing Intern. With my work in th earchive I was able to help preserve collections from Beth Yeshurun, the largest conservative synagogue in the United States, which had been damaged by Hurricane Harvey, as well as work on much smaller collections. My favorite moment from working in the archive was getting to meet and interview Joyce Gilbert, a woman who had snuck supplies into the refuseniks of Russia, worked with artist Judy Chicago, and befriended men in the hospital during the HIV/AIDS crisis.