Sponsored by Clal – the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, Sinai and Synapses has selected 15 communities as part of its “Scientists in Synagogues” project.
Similar to the previous “Scientists in Congregations” effort back in 2011, the institutions will be drawing on both their own internal expertise and leadership, as well as guest speakers, to present classes, talks and events on various topics. Those include: “The Eternal Life: The Body, The Mind, and Uploading Consciousness;” “Judaism and Evolution from the Big Bang to Modern Medicine – an Ongoing Journey;” “Teen Brain Development and Rodef Shalom;” and “Knowledge Unbound — Connecting the Worlds of Science and Judaism.”
“Communities are looking for both deep relationship-building and intellectual stimulation, and these institutions will offer their congregants, students, parents and teachers opportunities for both,” said Rabbi Geoff Mitelman, founding director of Sinai and Synapses. “As artificial intelligence continues to evolve and impact our lives, public health remains an ongoing topic of conversation, and as we examine our relationship with the natural world, these fifteen communities will foster a more robust dialogue on both the challenging and the inspiring ways Judaism and science can come together.”
The synagogues are spread across 10 different U.S. states. Four of them are Reform communities, three are Conservative, two are Orthodox, two are independent and two are unaffiliated, one is Reconstructionist and one is pluralistic.
The selection of these communities now brings the total number of synagogues that have been part of this project to 64, reaching nearly 18,000 people in live programming since 2016.
Each synagogue will receive $5000 for programming as well as guidance and mentorship from both Sinai and Synapses and AAAS DoSER. The program kicks off in July 2023 and runs through December 2024. The content will be open to the larger public and will include the creation of multimedia content.
“In an age of rapid scientific and technological advancement, it is vital for communities, including communities of faith, to consider how such advancements are affecting our lives and how we understand our role and responsibility in the world,” said Dr. Katy Hinman, program director of AAAS DoSER. “The projects these synagogues will carry out bring forefront science into conversation with faith in diverse, important and exciting ways.”
Sinai and Synapses said it will host a public event in 2024 to showcase previous synagogues.
Susan is an author with a long-time interest in religion and science. She currently edits Covalence, the Lutheran Alliance for Faith, Science and Technology’s online magazine. She has written articles in The Lutheran and the Zygon Center for Religion and Science newsletter. Susan is a board member for the Center for Advanced Study of Religion and Science, the supporting organization for the Zygon Center and the Zygon Journal. She also co-wrote Our Bodies Are Selves with Dr. Philip Hefner and Dr. Ann Pederson.