Guest Speaker Dr. Shayna Weiss Reception Hosted & Sponsored by Steve & Marilyn Monsein An accident during a bar mitzvah celebration leads to a gender rift in a lively Jerusalem Orthodox community in this rousing, good-hearted tale about women speaking truth to patriarchal power. When the women’s balcony in an Orthodox synagogue collapses, leaving the rabbi’s wife in a coma and the rabbi in shock, the congregation falls into crisis. Charismatic young Rabbi David appears to be a hero after the accident, but slowly he starts pushing his fundamentalist ways and tries to take control of the community. This tests the women’s friendships and creates an almost Lysistrata-type rift between the community’s women and men. This comedy-drama is about a community and its cherished traditions and values. It shows the power of women to keep all of these together in the face of religious extremism. Hebrew with English subtitles. “I wanted to tell the story of the moderate people who are forced to deal with growing religious extremism. The Women’s Balcony depicts the crumbling of this community when an extremist rabbi takes advantage of a crisis in the community and infiltrates it. This infiltration puts the people of the community to the test. But the film also offers comfort that religion can be different, and can still provide a rational community with compassion and love.” Screenwriter Shlomit Nehama Guest Speaker Dr. Shayna Weiss is the Associate Director of the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies at Brandeis University. Her research interests converge at the intersection of religion and gender in the Israeli public sphere, as well as the politics of Israeli popular culture. She is now completing a book on gender segregation in Israel. Weiss was the inaugural Distinguished Visiting Scholar in Hebrew and Judaic Studies at the United States Naval Academy. She earned her PhD from New York University in Hebrew and Judaic Studies, and she completed her postdoctoral fellowships in Israel at Bar Ilan University and Tel Aviv University where she taught courses about Israeli history and society. She has also taught at Brooklyn College and New York University.