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.
Through a competitive application process, twelve synagogues from across the Jewish world will be identified. Scientists and rabbis in these synagogues will explore questions of Judaism and science together, and then 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.
In December 2015, the John Templeton Foundation (JTF) supported a first round of Scientists in Synagogues, and in December 2017, JTF supported a second round. Between the two rounds, 95 synagogues applied, and 23 were chosen, reaching over 10,000 people. Post-program evaluations showed that 94% of the respondents "definitely" or "probably" wanted more programming on Judaism and science, and 95% called the programming “good” or “excellent.” There is thus a clear continued need and interest for opportunities for rabbis, scientists, congregants, students, and the population at large 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 (DoSER) program will be a consultant for this project, as well.