Scholars from around the world organize to bridge Judaism with science
ASU's Center for Jewish Studies brings focus to growing dialogue
An international group of natural and social scientists, philosophers, historians, physicians, rabbis, theologians and educators is working together to promote and facilitate a close relationship between the Jewish religion, its cultures and values, and the sciences, for the mutual benefit of all.
"Today there is a growing gulf between Judaism and the sciences. Although many scientists are Jews by birth, they do not consider Judaism relevant to their scientific work," says Hava Tirosh-Samuelson, director of the center and ASU's Jewish studies program.
"Conversely, religious Jews are either uninformed about or uninterested in recent developments in the sciences that have significant implications for their Jewish world view," Tirosh-Samuelson says. "The Judaism, Science and Medicine Group considers this state of affairs to be detrimental to the intellectual wellbeing of Judaism in the 21st century and wishes to bridge the gap between Judaism and the sciences."
To achieve their mission, the group will create forums for dialogue among scientists, health care professionals and scholars of Judaism, while fostering interdisciplinary, collaborative research projects and developing educational materials about the interrelation of Judaism and the sciences.
"Through these activities, the Judaism, Science and Medicine Group will help shape academic and public discourses about the relationship between Judaism and science within the broader field of the dialogue between religion and science," Tirosh-Samuelson says.
The Center for Jewish Studies at ASU administers the activities of the group, which include an annual, interdisciplinary conference, collaborative research projects, teacher workshops and academic seminars. Membership in the organization is free to anyone committed to bridging the gap between Judaism and the sciences.
According to Tirosh-Samuelson there is no other group of this kind in the United States or Israel. "There are organizations of Jewish academics who study the bioethical problems that arise from modern technology and there is an organization of Orthodox Jewish scientists. However, these organizations lack the interdisciplinary scope, the diverse makeup of the group, and the pluralistic understanding of Judaism exemplified by the Judaism, Science, and Medicine Group," she explains.
By hosting the Judaism, Science and Medicine Group, the Center for Jewish Studies actualizes the intellectual goals of ASU – interdisciplinarity, global engagement and social embeddedness, according to Tirosh-Samuelson. "The Judaism, Science and Medicine Group will help the Center for Jewish Studies to serve as an agent of cultural change as well as an intellectual resource locally, nationally and internationally," she says.
Additional information about the international Judaism, Science and Medicine Group is available online at http://jewishstudies.clas.asu.edu/science, or by contacting Tirosh-Samuelson at 480-956-7767, Hava.Samuelson@asu.edu.