Jews have a unique relationship to science. While Judaism has historically embraced science without much struggle, today many Jews see science and religion as independent, rather than mutually enhancing. Scientists in Synagogues will thus aim to explore, enhance and then showcase the variety of ways in which Jewish scientists integrate their scientific work with their Jewish life.
In December 2015, the John Templeton Foundation supported a first round of Scientists in Synagogues, with 40 synagogues applying from across the Jewish world. Eleven congregations were chosen in this first round (with sub-grants going to ten, since two congregations applied together), and in initial post-program evaluations of the programming, 90% of the respondents "definitely" or "probably" wanted more programming on Judaism and science. There is thus a clear need and interest for rabbis, scientists, congregants, students, and the population at large to have opportunities to continue to explore science and religion collaboratively in a specifically Jewish setting.
Scientists in Synagogues will be run by Sinai and Synapses, which is incubated at Clal - The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership. The AAAS Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion will be a consultant for this project, as well.
Through a competitive application process, twelve synagogues from across the Jewish world will be identified. The rabbis of these synagogues, as well as scientists who are members of their communities, will become ambassadors and role models for integrating Judaism and science in their own life and their own work.
Through grass-roots programming, relationship-building, and exploration of crucial issues, Scientists in Synagogues 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.