Every mammal, big or small, has the same number of heartbeats in its life. I wondered whether the same laws of “scaling” would apply to the Jewish community.
Rabbi Geoffrey A. Mitelman is the Founding Director of Sinai and Synapses, an organization that bridges the scientific and religious worlds, and is being incubated at Clal – The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership.
His work has been supported by the John Templeton Foundation, Emanuel J. Friedman Philanthropies, and the Lucius N. Littauer Foundation, and his writings about the intersection of religion and science have appeared on the homepages of several sites, including The Huffington Post, Nautilus, Science and Religion Today, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, and My Jewish Learning. He has been an adjunct professor at both the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion and the Academy for Jewish Religion, and is a sought-out teacher, presenter, and scholar-in-residence throughout the country.
He was ordained by the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, where he received the Cora Kahn Prize from the Cincinnati faculty for the most outstanding sermon delivery and oratory. An alumnus of Princeton University, he received multiple prizes for outstanding scholarship in Biblical and Judaic studies.
He was selected to be a member of the first cohort of Clal’s prestigious Rabbis Without Borders fellowship, a national program that seeks to position rabbis as American religious leaders and spiritual innovators who contribute Jewish wisdom to the American spiritual landscape. Additionally, he was chosen to be in the first group of the Balfour Brickner Rabbinic Fellowship, a a joint program with Clal and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism that aims to integrate Jewish textual tradition with modern social and political issues. He is on the advisory board of several organizations, including the 92nd St. Y’s “7 Days of Genius” Festival, as well as the URJ’s 6-Points Sci-Tech Academy.
For seven years, he served as Assistant and then Associate Rabbi of Temple Beth El of Northern Westchester, and appeared on Jeopardy! in March 2016. He lives in Westchester County with his wife Heather Stoltz, a fiber artist, with their daughter and son.
Religious people feel threatened by secular, scientific-worldview people, and secular people, conversely, feel threatened by religious thought. How do we find common ground?
Using baseball to teach how it’s possible to love one group without hating another.
Religion is a human endeavor, and so different religions will have different ways to reach those goals.
Don’t assume that “religious = conservative” and “scientific = liberal.”
Meaning is contextual. It allows us to change the story. And that, too, is a source of power.
If you see someone wearing a cross, or a hijab, or a kipah, don’t assume they are anti-science. And if you hear someone works in a lab, or does experiments, or simply loves science, don’t assume they are anti-religious.
Most Jews are probably more likely to read the New York Times science section or watch “Cosmos” than to engage in Talmud study.
An update on the “marshmallow test” suggests that if we can find small pleasures on the road to long-term happiness, we’ll be more like to stay on the path.
A trip to Mars would remind us of how we could act here on Earth.