2023 Selected Congregations for Scientists in Synagogues

2023 Selected Congregations for Scientists in Synagogues

Sinai and Synapses, fiscally sponsored by Clal – The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, is thrilled to announce the selection of 15 communities as part of its project “Scientists in Synagogues.”

These institutions will be drawing on a combination of their own internal expertise and leadership, as well as guest speakers, to present classes, talks and events on topics ranging from “Eternal Life: The Body, The Mind, and Uploading Consciousness” to “Judaism and Evolution from the Big Bang to Modern Medicine – an Ongoing Journey” to “Teen Brain Development and Rodef Shalom” to “Knowledge Unbound – Connecting the Worlds of Science and Judaism.” The selected organizations represent ten different U.S. states; four of them were Reform communities, three were Conservative, two were Orthodox, two were independent, two were unaffiliated, one was Reconstructionist, and one was pluralistic. Funding for Scientists in Synagogues comes from The John Templeton Foundation and other donors, and the program is run in consultation with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion (DoSER).

The selected organizations will receive $5000 for programming, as well as guidance and mentorship from both Sinai and Synapses and AAAS DoSER. They will run a minimum of four programs addressing issues around science and religion between July 2023 and December 2024, at least one of which will be open to the larger public, and create multimedia content on how they explore the interaction of Judaism and science in their communities.

“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.”

Dr. Katy Hinman, Program Director of AAAS DoSER, reminds us that, “In an age of rapid scientific and technological advancement, it is vital for communitiesincluding communities of faith, to consider how such advancements are affecting our lives and how we understand our role and responsibility in the world. The projects these synagogues will carry out bring forefront science into conversation with faith in diverse, important and exciting ways.”

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. Sinai and Synapses is also planning a public event in 2024 to showcase previous synagogues, with more information on that forthcoming. For now, we are excited for the work that these fifteen communities will be doing to elevate the conversation on science and Judaism.

The selected communities for 2023 are:

Anshe Emeth Memorial Temple, New Brunswick, NJ
Bet Aviv, Columbia, MD
Beth Jacob Congregation, Mendota Heights, MN
Boston University Hillel, Boston, MA
Congregation Agudas Achim, Austin, TX
Congregation Agudath Achim, Bradley Beach, NJ
Congregation Beth El – Ner Tamid, Broomall, PA
Congregation Beth Elohim, Acton, MA
Congregation B’nai David Judea, Los Angeles, CA
Congregation Shearith Israel, Atlanta, GA
Contra Costa Midrasha, Contra Costa, CA
Kol Ami: The Northern Virginia Reconstructionist Community, Annandale, VA
Tehillah, Bronx, NY
Temple B’nai Or, Morristown, NJ
Temple Har Shalom, Warren, NJ