On Wednesday, May 3, Bruins for Israel held an event featuring Mayim Bialik, an American actress, neuroscientist and UCLA alumna. She is currently known for her role as Amy on the popular television series, The Big Bang Theory. Bialik graduated from UCLA with degrees in neuroscience and Jewish Studies. She then continued her education, earning a doctorate degree in neuroscience. Bialik was inspired to pursue a degree in science during her time as a young actress by her biology tutor, who was a dental student at UCLA at the time. During the discussion, Bialik mentioned that she took classes in the lecture hall in which the event was held — Dodd 147 — and that her brother was a graphic designer and editor of Ha’Am Newsmagazine during his time at UCLA (Bialk, herself, was a staff writer for Ha’Am). Bialik also implied that she was an avid UCLA basketball game frequenter while she was a student.
The event was formally entitled “Mayim Bialik: On Being a Progressive, Feminist, Zionist,” and Bialik began the evening with an explanation of her background and upbringing. She then delved into her current values — those of a liberal, a feminist and a Zionist.
As a descendant of Holocaust survivors and civil rights activists, Bialik states that she identified very strongly as a Jew and as an advocate for social justice. She explained that her belief in the existence of a Jewish state does not interfere with her conception of feminism and equality. For her, feminism is the concept of freeing all people, of all backgrounds, of the bonds of race, class and gender. Bialik, who was raised with the ethics of Judaism, said that she stood for Tikkun Olam — the concept of repairing the world. She expressed her desire to better the world through finding those in need of help and assisting them.
Students in the audience looked to Bialik for guidance on combating anti-Semitism and anti-Israel rhetoric on campus. She maintained that the source of these contentions is a misinformed public and that the first step to ending the issue is to clear up facts between the camps. As a past Bruin who has now entered the “real” world beyond Westwood Village, Bialik was able to give students her unique perspective on the political climate of the United States. She expressed that campus happenings may be seen as a microcosm of the world at large and encouraged students to engage in constructive conversations that would enhance the future of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Bialik also expressed her love for Israel through recounting details of her past visits. She spent time volunteering in Israel on various kibbutzim birthing cows, weeding plants and acting as a makeshift handyman. Bialik also described her admiration towards young Israeli soldiers who fight to protect the Jewish people. She mentioned that motherhood has given her a different perspective on the young men and women who are part of the Israel Defense Forces. Before she had children, Bialik viewed Chayalim or soldiers simply as handsome or beautiful men and women with guns. However, now, Bialik perceives soldiers as children belonging to a greater family and is better able to identify with the soldiers’ parents.
Bialik also spoke about aspects of her spirituality. She explained that she felt reverence towards G-d through the wonders of the natural world. Bialik also brought up the teachings of Rav Soleveichick, claiming that she has experienced miracles on a daily basis as she has watched the sun rise.
Overall, the event was both informative and entertaining. Bialik created a friendly atmosphere and allowed for students to ask questions and engage in conversations with her. Like a true Bruin, Bialik concluded the night with the classic UCLA 8-clap, thus uniting the crowd and reaffirming her Bruin pride.