On four weekday evenings beginning during Pesach – April 24 & 30, and May 8 & 15 – come discuss Close Encounters with Humankind by Sang-Hee Lee
At a time when we recall the Israelites’ crossing from Africa into the Middle East, it seems appropriate to look at the history of our evolutionary lineage and its first migration over the Red Sea some 2 million years earlier.
This book is a collection of short, accessible essays on topics related to human evolutionary history. It provides an excellent opportunity to reflect on humanity and our many amazing and curious features. The discussion will be spread over four sessions. For the first three, we will read and discuss the scientific ideas, plus any specific connections to Jewish texts or practice that might arise. In the last session, we plan to set aside time for the meta question: How can one integrate an evolutionary view of humanity with belief in God?
Discussions will be lead by David Baum, Rabbi Betsy Forester, Matt Banks, and others.
All are welcome to participate even if you have not had a chance to read the assigned chapters for each session. In the meetings we will discuss each chapter, starting with a brief summary. The facilitators will bring additional sources and leading questions to stimulate discussion.
  • Wednesday, April 24 at UW Hillel (after Pesach Dinner Out at Adamah)
    • Introduction and chapters 1-5, pages 9-76. Topics include cannibalism, fatherhood, brain-size, bipedalism pregnancy, and meat-eating.
  • Tuesday, April 30 at Beth Israel Center
    • Topics include lactose tolerance, skin tone, grandmothers, farming, movements out of Africa, and altruism.
  • Wednesday, May 8 at Beth Israel Center
    • Chapters 13-19, 141-206. Gigantism, back-pain, intraspecific variation, brain-size (again), Neanderthals, and Denisovans.
  • Wednesday, May 15 at Beth Israel Center
    • Chapters 20-22 and epilogues, pages 207-264. Hobbits, races, ongoing evolution, human impacts on the planet.
NEW (and optional):   Join our Slack discussion group  and post questions, comments, or related sources before and between in-person discussion sessions. Having trouble joining? Email elissa at bethisraelcenter.org for help.