Rabbi Geoff Mitelman grew up on the cusp of two worlds. As a devout Jew, he was very interested in religion. However, as a math and science enthusiast, the native New Yorker found himself asking deep questions concerning the nature of reality.
After growing up and becoming a rabbi, he decided to create a space where both of these questions could be discussed in an open, nonjudgmental way. That was how Sinai and Synapses was born.
“Sinai and Synapses bridges the gap between religion and science. We work at some of the biggest, most critical questions we are facing today, whether its genetic engineering, artificial intelligence, astro-physics or climate change,” he said. “We want to look at and be able to find wisdom in both science and religion. We want to explore these different areas.”
Mitelman works to generate conversation between these seemingly polar opposites. To that end, he’s presented at the Parliament of World Religions, a collective that includes groups like Wiccans, as well as before BioLogs, an organization of evangelical Christians. But regardless of the audience, the goal remains the same — to start a dialogue and break down barriers.
“I realize that we’re living in a world where there is a lot of ‘us’ versus ‘them.’ That’s true whether it’s conservatives and liberals; urban or rural; or science and religion. But there are things that we’re all grappling with and we just say, ‘let’s talk about it and let’s learn from each other,’” he said.
That’s a similar message that Rabbi Rachael Bregman shares with her congregation at Temple Beth Tefilloh. So she invited him to come to the area to present two programs with the community on Saturday.
There will also be a welcome reception for Mitelman from 5 to 7 p.m. at the synagogue. Wine and light hors d’oeuvres will be served. A discussion on religion and science will follow.
“Our goal is to help people walk away with new tools and new language for really complicated questions. We want to be simple without being simplistic and intellectual without being academic,” he said. “I find that people on both sides can be very closed minded so we just want to engender more curiosity because science is very much about curiosity but religion is a curiosity about other people, their background and their stories.”