Friday June 7 and Saturday June 8
Jewish Explorers on the Frontiers of the Brain
For most of the 20th century, the newest and most exciting frontiers of human exploration seemed to be the space of the universe: the moon, the solar system, the stars, and the wonders to be discovered in the physics laboratory. The frontiers of 21st century exploration may well turn out to be inside our heads. These study sessions will explore some of the most fascinating aspects of neuroscience and their implications for Jewish belief and Jewish life.
SESSION I - IMAGINING A CONSCIOUS GOD
Friday, June 7 at 8:00 p.m. services at Ner Tamid
In an age of science, many people think of God as the sum total of the natural laws, principles, and processes that control our universe. It makes sense, but it's hard to talk with that kind of God. Forces like gravity, entropy, and quantum uncertainty are powerful, but they don't actually "care" about anything. This session will explore a model for thinking about God as a conscious entity, one who could actually talk to us, love us, and even command us.
SESSION II - FREEDOM, RESPONSIBILITY, AND KORACH'S BRAIN
Saturday, June 8 at 12:30 p.m. (with lunch) at Ner Tamid
Our continued exploration of the connections between Jewish life and brain research leads us to a thorny philosophical/religious/scientific question: Why was Korach, the star (or villain?) of this week's Torah portion, such a bad guy (maybe he was not guilty by reason of insanity) and was it right for God to open the earth so that it swallowed him and his gang? Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or 973-338-1500 x 5.
SESSION III - KAVANNAH, PRAYER, AND THE SPIRITUAL BRAIN
Saturday, June 8 at 8:00 p.m. (with dessert) – at the Adler/Nolin home
One of the new frontiers in neuroscience research involves using various imaging technologies to observe brain function while subjects perform various tasks. One particularly interesting aspect of this research involves imaging the brains of individuals engaged in religious activities, e.g., prayer or meditation. This session will explore some of this research and consider what its implications are for Jewish life. Please RSVP to email@example.com or 973-338-1500 x 5.
Rabbi David W. Nelson, PhD, is campus rabbi and assistant professor of Religion at Bard College in Annandale on Hudson, NY. Rabbi Nelson recently published Judaism, Physics & God: Searching for Sacred Metaphors in a Post-Einstein World. He was also the Senior Teaching Fellow, CLAL-The National Jewish Center for Learning And Leadership.
Rabbi David Nelson’s appearance is made possible by the generosity of Tamar Weiss in memory of her husband, Emil (z"l), who was the first-ever president of Temple Ner Tamid.