Sinai and Synapses, fiscally sponsored and housed at Clal – The National Center for Learning and Leadership, has selected eight synagogues for the newest round of its initiative “Scientists in Synagogues,” with a second round to open in November to select an additional four.
The project is a grass-roots program to offer Jews opportunities to explore the most interesting and pressing questions surrounding Judaism and science. Both rabbis and scientists will be sharing how they integrate Judaism and science, and will model productive conversations about some of the most crucial and thought-provoking issues of the day. Its funding comes from The John Templeton Foundation and other donors, and it is run in consultation with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion (DoSER).
The selected synagogues represent a diverse cross-section of the Jewish community: three Conservative synagogues, two Reform synagogues, one Orthodox, and one Reconstructionist and one Pluralistic beit midrash. They will explore topics and ideas that they themselves chose, such as Judaism and behavioral science, the anthropology of cross-cultural flood narratives, and Judaism and data science. They will all receive $3600 for their programming, along with mentorship and guidance, through Sinai and Synapses and DoSER.
Since its inception, Scientists in Synagogues has reached over 10,000 people from all over the United States and Canada, and has shown a tremendous impact on attendees — in post-program surveys, 95% of those who attended programming called it “good” or “excellent,” 92% “definitely” or “probably” wanted more, and 93% said they would recommend it to friends and family.
“With COVID-19 changing the landscape of the Jewish community, and a constructive dialogue between religion and science more crucial than ever, Scientists in Synagogues will help people link our ancient texts with modern findings. These eight synagogues will showcase how we can use a scientific way of thinking to help us understand Jewish values. From sources of truth to biostatistics and the census in Numbers to the biological roots of faith, these communities will provide learning, growth and conversations on key issues of the day from both a Jewish and a scientific lens.”
Ultimately, the work of Scientists in 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.
Below are the selected congregations.
B’nai Israel Congregation of Baltimore, Baltimore, MD
Congregation Etz Hayim, Arlington, VA
East End Temple, New York, NY
Temple Beth-El, Ithaca, NY
Temple Shalom, Dallas, TX
United Synagogue of Hoboken, Hoboken, NJ
Valley Beit Midrash, Phoenix, AZ
West End Synagogue, New York, NY