What is “Scientists in Synagogues?”

Scientists in Synagogues is a grass-roots program to offer Jews opportunities to explore the most interesting and pressing questions surrounding Judaism and science. Its aim is to share how some of the most thoughtful Jewish scientists integrate their Judaism and their scientific work so that they can be role models and ambassadors for productive conversations surrounding Judaism and science.

This project is organized by Sinai and Synapses (which is incubated at CLAL – The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership) in collaboration with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion (DoSER), and funded by the John Templeton Foundation, as well as other individual donors.

This project presents a great opportunity for both scientists and the Jewish community to rethink the relationship between Judaism and science. Scientists in Synagogues will move people towards a more integrated perspective, both for their own individual sense of self and for the larger conversation surrounding Judaism and science.


The first round of Scientists in Synagogues was in 2016-2017, and in the 18 months of programming, over 5000 people attended programs, classes or lectures. 96% of attendees called the programming “good” or “excellent,” and 90% said they wanted more. Several congregations saw over twice as many people as usual coming to learn.

Who should apply?

We are looking for communities that have members who are top-notch scientists. They can be Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, Reconstructionist, unaffiliated, or independent, and the scientists can be professors, researchers, bench scientists, or even science journalists, but the most crucial piece is that these scientists need to have a willingness and a desire to explore how their scientific work can integrate with their Jewish life.

We are also defining “synagogue” very broadly for this initiative, and will entertain applications from independent minyanim, start-up congregations, or other forms of Jewish communities where there are already relationships among stake-holders. If you would not call yourself a “synagogue” and would like to apply, please contact us to discuss further.

We are also looking for a diverse group of scientists, both in terms of their area of expertise, as well as a good mix of both male and female scientists.

Expectations and Benefits

  • To attend a workshop (fully subsidized) on June 27, 2018 at Clal – The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership in New York City for the rabbi (or other senior professional) and one scientist
  • To run at least two programs in their community between July 2018 and December 2019
  • To create written blog posts and/or videos to help personalize the relationship between Judaism and science
  • To provide qualitative and quantitative data throughout this process, such as interviews, attendance sheets and stories, which will help guide future programming and a potential expansion of this program

The synagogues that are selected for Scientists in Synagogues will receive two main benefits.

First, they will receive up to $3600 for use between July 2018 and December 2019 for food, publicity, honoraria or other expenses as they see fit.

Second, they will receive an opportunity for mentorship and connection from both the Jewish world through Sinai and Synapses and the scientific world through the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Participation may include learning for adults, children and/or families. As Scientists in Synagogues is designed to be grass-roots, many of the topics will arise from the interests and expertise from the specific scientists and clergy.


The deadline for applications is March 15, 2018. Finalists will be notified by March 26, 2018, and will then be asked to submit a budget and tentative program timeline. They will then have a one-hour interview by Zoom, and all applicants will be notified by April 23rd, 2018. All congregations are expected to bring one rabbi (or other senior professional) and one scientist for a workshop in New York City on June 27, 2018.

The proposals will be evaluated by an independent committee. Selections will be based on the creativity of project content, organizational capacity, level of congregational engagement, and commitment to sustainability, among others.

For more information and to apply go to http://sinaiandsynapses.org/scientists-in-synagogues/