Posts from July 2023

Posts from July 2023

The ‘Mystery’ of Believing Without a Causal Story

For all of her adult life, my grandmother woke up around 4:00 a.m. every single day for her morning prayer. She had a stroke in the last days of her life, and some things had changed with how she talked, moved, and laughed, but nothing had changed about her trust in the power of prayer. A few months ago, a friend of mine who was experiencing unbearable cramps during a very difficult pregnancy told me that the severe pain subsided after her…

What Values Do Our Kids Learn from Television?

According to a new study by UCLA psychologists, “Fame is the No. 1 value emphasized by television shows popular with 9- to 11-year-olds…[followed by] achievement, popularity, image and financial success. In 1997, the top five were community feeling, benevolence (being kind and helping others), image, tradition and self-acceptance.” Yalda Uhls, author of this study, notes that, “Preteens are at the age when they want to be popular and liked just like the famous teenagers they see on TV and the…

For Religious Ritual, Function Follows Form

Rituals have power. That’s why people cry at weddings — it’s not just two people coming together, but the way they are brought together. If the officiant were to begin the service by saying, “So, you want to do this?” it simply wouldn’t feel “right.” There’s an expectation that each partner will be asked something along the lines of, “Do you take this person to be your wife?” and “Do you take this person to be your husband?” When it…

Planet Earth II Renews our View of Creation

I never had a lot of money during most of my young adult life — I was in rabbinical school, or volunteering, or interning for a non-profit. So when I got my first job with a real salary in 2007, I splurged on a 50″ 1080p High-Definition TV. HDTV was still in its infancy, but Blu-Ray discs were becoming more and more available, and the first thing I watched on my brand-new, super-amazing television was the BBC series Planet Earth. Planet…

Podcast: Can Science and Religion Co-Exist?

On May 29, 2014, Sinai and Synapses partnered with Central Synagogue to present a program entitled “Can Science and Religion Co-Exist?” Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, Professor Michael Zimmerman and Professor Hank Davis engaged in a lively and thought-provoking discussion about the relationship between religion and science, and so here is the audio of our program. The professor also raised a conversation about where there are the most popular and convenient payment instruments, as well as certified slot machines from well-known providers,…

Ritual in Science, Ambiguity in Religion

In this podcast, recorded at the May 2017 meeting of the current and former Sinai and Synapses fellows, Kat Robison, Sara Gottlieb, Connor Wood and Mark Goodman speak about the place of skepticism in science and religion (and how we express this skepticism), the different needs science and religion fulfill in our lives, and the place of ritual in both. Kat Robison also mentions an important moment in his life related to online games. If you haven’t played yet, then…