Sinai and Synapses Announces Expansion of Scientists in Synagogues

Sinai and Synapses Announces Expansion of Scientists in Synagogues

Sinai and Synapses is proud to announce a three-year, $910,000 grant from the John Templeton Foundation for an expansion and growth of one of its signature projects, Scientists in Synagogues. Through a competitive application process, a total of 30 synagogues will receive $5000 for programming their community on science and Judaism (fifteen in 2022 and fifteen in 2023), culminating in a public program in New York City in the fall of 2024. It will be run in consultation with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) the world’s largest scientific organization, through their Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion (DoSER) program, and with the help of Sinai and Synapses’ fiscal sponsor, Clal – The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership.

This project will allow communities to explore, enhance and then showcase the variety of ways in which Jewish scientists integrate their scientific work with their Jewish life. Through grass-roots programming, relationship-building, and exploration of critical issues, it will continue to show the Jewish community how to integrate science and Judaism in meaningful and productive ways, and present findings for future studies, programming, and ideas in the scientifically-rich Jewish community.

Since its launch in 2016 through the first three rounds of this project, 120 synagogues applied, and 35 were chosen, reaching over 15,000 people. They represented the full diversity of the Jewish community, including Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, Reconstructionist, pluralistic and independent communities, and came from fourteen states, plus Canada. Synagogues have explored topics such as truth in both mathematics and Judaism, particle physics and Genesis, the role of memory in Jewish tradition, and the connection between genetics and free will. Post-program evaluations showed that 90% of the respondents wanted more programming on Judaism and science, and 96% calling the programming “good” or “excellent,” leading to the expansion of this project.

“The interplay of science and religion continues to be in the forefront of the public discussion,” said Rabbi Geoffrey Mitelman, Founding Director of Sinai and Synapses. “The relationship between facts and interpretations, and between information and communication, requires a grounding in expertise, a clarity of message, and a level of trust. Scientists in Synagogues will allow communities to dive deeply into the issues that they see as most crucial, most inspiring, or most pressing for them. As it has for the 35 communities that have participated before, it will encourage deep relationship-building, engender awe and majesty, and spur curiosity.”

“New human challenges ranging from a global pandemic to innovative forays in space exploration exemplify the need for good science to support flourishing life,” said Dr. Jennifer Wiseman, Director of DoSER. “We are pleased that the Scientists in Synagogues Project will be able to support many more congregations in their careful reflection on the promise and challenges of science and technology for their communities and for the world.”

Applications for this round will be due April 5th, 2022, and more information, as well as the application itself, can be found here. For further inquiries, please contact Rabbi Geoffrey Mitelman at gmitelman at sinaiandsynapses.org, or click here.

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