Friends of Jerusalem College of Technology, which rallies support for an academic institution that is at the forefront of empowering women in Israeli society, last night featured “Big Bang Theory” star actress Mayim Bialik as the keynote speaker at its New York City gala dinner.
Over 400 people gathered at Lincoln Square Synagogue in Manhattan to hear Bialik and support the Jerusalem College of Technology (JCT) as a key agent of change in Israel through its training of religious women in science and technology careers. Bialik — an observant Jew in Hollywood who plays neurobiologist Amy Farrah Fowler on “Big Bang Theory” and is herself a neuroscientist — was perfectly cast for the role of keynote speaker at the Friends of JCT gala and was given the Yael Heroine of Israel Award.
“What is so incredible about what the Jerusalem College of Technology does, and why I’m so honored to be here, is that I want to see Israel succeed and compete, and I think there is so much misinformation about Israel and what she is and what she’s not. Organizations like JCT represent that tension and complexity while really honoring so many of the values that many of us hold true no matter how we identify politically or religiously,” Bialik said.
Bialik’s honor at the “JCT – Sparking Innovation” event comes after the college was recently awarded land in Emek Zion, adjacent to its Lev Campus for men, where it is planning to build permanent facilities for the Tal Campus for women. The Tal Campus offers female students a unique combination of science and engineering education on the highest level and advanced Judaic studies courses.
“It was inspiring to see so many people turn out to support JCT’s mission to effect vital social and economic change in Israel through providing high-level science and technology education to underserved populations,” said Friends of JCT Chairman Aurora Cassirer.
JCT’s groundbreaking work in the education of women in technology fields is particularly apparent when it comes to computer science. One out of every five Israeli women studying computers does so at JCT, and all of those students are daati leumi (national religious) or haredi. Fifty-three percent of JCT’s computer science students are women—18 percent higher than any other Israeli institution of higher learning.
The Friends of JCT gala also included a tribute to Dr. Rozalie Schachter, the daughter of Satmar Chassidim, who emigrated to the U.S. at the age of 16, obtained a Ph.D. in Physics from New York University and became a trailblazer for women in the field of technology and business, as well as Golan Ben Oni, Chief Information Officer at IDT, who was granted the Shield of David award.