Register Here

$10 for Members

$18 for non-Members

(Lunch included)

What is the intersection between science and Judaism? Following up on Scott Shay’s lecture in October on faith and science, this day-long symposium will feature top notch presenters and facilitators as we explore questions of Jewish identity and genetics, our relationship to other people, and the policy implications in our own community and Israel raised by these questions.

A day-long symposium at Sutton Place Synagogue

  • Registration: 9:30-10 am

  • Keynote: 10:00-11:00 am: Dr. Harry Ostrer

Harry Ostrer, M.D. is professor of Pathology and Pediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. He studies the genetic basis for common and rare conditions and disorders. In the diagnostic laboratory, he translates the findings of genetic discoveries into tests that can be used to identify people’s risk for having a disease prior to its occurrence, or for predicting its outcome once it has occurred. Dr. Ostrer is a long-time investigator of the genetics of the Jewish people and Hispanic and Latino people.

In 2007, he organized the Jewish Hapmap Project, an international effort to map and sequences the genomes of Jewish people. In a series of publications about Abraham’s children in the genome era, Dr. Ostrer and his team of investigators demonstrated that the history of the Jewish diasporas could be seen in the genomes of contemporary Jewish people.

In his book, Legacy: A Generic History of the Jewish People, he explored how population genetics could affect group identity. During his recent sabbatical at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study, he worked on studies to analyze the population genetics of Christians, Jews and Pagans from classical antiquity up to the Middle Ages.

Breakout Session: 11:15-12:15

Topic 1

  • What is a Jew? (Jewish history/perspective-our relationship to other populations…how different are we?) How do we see ourselves and how do others see us? How do we view other groups? Are we a race, a tribe, an ethnicity and/or a religion?

Topic 2
Genetic Basis of Jewish Inclusiveness

  • Who is a Jew?  The search for genomic proof of Jewish identity and ancestral origins.

12:15-1 Special Panel with Rabbi Ain
Becoming Jewish – When biology doesn’t factor into Jewish identity for adults. Learn from those who converted about what it means to become a part of a people.

Lunch 1-1:45

Second Breakout Session 1:45-2:45

Closing Conversation 3-4 pm

How do we understand our own story? Moving from the concept of race to ancestry – we are all a lot more connected than we thought – how do we build bridges with others’ faith and ethnic communities while celebrating the uniqueness of being Jewish. How do we stand up against the prejudices against other groups knowing that we have been the victims of such prejudice? How do we view our relationship to other groups… Create action groups to learn more!

This program is funded by Sinai and Synapses, an organization which funds the “Scientists and Synagogues” grant. SPS was one of only 12 synagogues that received this grant. Scientists and Synagogues will bridge the worlds of Judaism and science, showing how we can use the wisdom from both realms in the service of enhancing individuals, communities, and the world at large.  Part of Scientists in Synagogues is run by Sinai and Synapses in consultation with the AAAS Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion. It is primarily funded by the John Templeton Foundation.