by Rabbi Shai Held

(This post is connected to the Sinai and Synapses Discussion Forum, a collection of perspectives on specific topics, with our Fall 2016 series, “When Religion Heals, When Science Heals.”)

I am often struck by the fact that we live in “atheological time”– Jews from across the denominational spectrum tend to talk about God in muted tones, if we talk about God at all.  And yet it is hard to take the Jewish tradition seriously without ever engaging, and wrestling, with the question of God. More than that, the question of God is inextricably bound up with questions of purpose: What is Judaism for?  What are Jews in the world to do, and to be? To avoid (or evade) the question of God, it seems to me, is to bypass many of these questions.

At Hadar we aim to ignite a much-needed Jewish conversation about God.  Towards that end, we proudly present a provocative new series of public lectures and dialogues — about faith and doubt in light of science; about whether and how the idea of a God who loves can still make sense in the modern world; about Israelis and their (often understated) quest for God; and about what it means to believe in God (tentatively, sometimes tenuously) in a broken world.  Our aim in this series is not to “sell” one version of theology or another, but to open up questions and possibilities, and to do so in a way that is honest and genuinely searching.

It is also the case that people of differing convictions often have trouble having substantive conversations with one another, without preaching or proselytizing.  We hope to provide a model of how such dialogues can take place.

In the first two dialogues, I will be in conversation with Michael Ruse, a prominent atheistic philosopher and a renowned Darwinism scholar; and with Thomas Oord, an influential and controversial Christian theologian. In the third lecture, Rabbi Sharon Cohen-Anisfeld will explore the search for God among secular Israeli poets. Does the word “hiloni” in Hebrew really mean “secular,” in the way Americans tend to understand that word? And in the fourth and final presentation, I will talk about my own beliefs — and my profound doubts.

We hope you’ll join us for any or all of these evenings.  For more information, please click here.