Yehuda Sharim is the Aubrey ’42 and Sylvia Farb Postdoctoral Fellow in Jewish Studies and a scholar at the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice. A native of Israel whose parents immigrated there from Iran, Sharim’s research chronicles the creation of Sephardic-Mizrahi identity. In addition to his teaching duties, Sharim is leading a project that documents the lives and experiences of Houston’s growing refugee and migrant communities.
The multipronged project, dubbed “Houston in Motion: Empowering Houston Migrant and Refugee Communities,” will bring together video footage, oral histories, educational events, research, technology and survey data to document and engage with Houston’s diverse refugee and migrant communities. The project has received funding from the Rice University Center for Civic Leadership’s Hilda and Hershel Rich Endowment for Student Community Service as well as the Kinder Institute.
Elizabeth Long, a Rice professor emerita of sociology, and Yan Digilov ’11, a strategist for the Firestarter Group, a nonprofit social impact investment firm, are also leading the project. Sharim spoke with editors at Rice Magazine and the Kinder Institute about his work. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
How did you become interested in working with refugees?