Academy for Jewish Religion

Academy for Jewish Religion. Students with guitars sit around a table looking at sheet music.

The Academy for Jewish Religion (AJR) plans to ensure that its graduates are conversant with and comfortable engaging their communities on topics related to well-grounded science. Towards this end, AJR hopes to integrate science into its curriculum in sustainable ways that maximize student exposure to a variety of scientific areas. First, they would rework their course Critical Issues in Jewish Law. The new, permanent orientation for this course, renamed Critical Issues in Jewish Law and Science, would be on issues in the intersection between traditional Jewish law and science – such as technology, mental health, and genetics.

In considering how to revise a second required course, AJR turned to the six required credits of Entrepreneurship. These credits are part of the Professional Skills course area of their rabbinical curriculum, which currently can be fulfilled through a variety of courses. They determined that two of these six credits should be re-envisioned as a specific “Science and Judaism” requirement that itself could be fulfilled by any one of three course options offered on a rotating basis.

AJR’s campus-wide event for the 2021-2022 academic year will be a four-day conference required for all matriculated ordination students on the topic of Mindfulness, Music, and Mental Health. Based on results of physiological tests that measure changes in blood pressure and brain functioning as well as psychological studies that trace the long-term impact of meditation, the conference would provide a scientific grounding for the positive effects of meditation and musical stimulation.

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In furtherance of the AAAS mission of advancing science in service to society, AAAS|DoSER’s role in the Science for Seminaries project is to support efforts to integrate science into seminary education. AAAS|DoSER does not advise on or endorse the theological content of the participating seminaries.