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.
Since 2015, the John Templeton Foundation has supported Scientists in Synagogues, with 35 synagogues all across North America exploring questions ranging from mathematical and religious truth, to the psychology of compassion, to the neuroscience of memory. This expansion will nearly double the number of participating synagogues, as we will select a total of 30 communities over three years, and culminate in a public program in New York City in the fall of 2024.
This project will explore, enhance and then showcase the variety of ways in which Jewish scientists integrate their scientific work with their Jewish life. 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 the first three rounds of this project, 120 synagogues applied, and 35 were chosen, reaching over 15,000 people. Post-program evaluations showed that 93% 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.