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Archive of Past Adult Education Events

Scientists in Synagogues Past Events

July 2019: A Visit to the Lick Observatory

If you look to the east you will see the Lick Observatory way up on top of the summit of Mt. Hamilton. Inspired by our Scientists in Synagogues Series, a group of forty Shir Hadash members braved the winding road up Mount Hamilton for an extraordinary evening together. 

The tour of the facility was amazing. We visited and learned about the Shane 3-m telescope. Seeing the astrophysicists at work and video conferencing with the UCLA research team was a treat and they readily answered our questions about black holes.

The evening included an outside picnic dinner followed by a fascinating lecture from Professor Clare Max, the Director of the University of California Observatories at the University of California at Santa Cruz who spoke about the likelihood of discovering life on another planet and what it may mean for Judaism. The lecture was followed by a lively question and answer session and a discussion about discovering other intelligence life in the universe and the impact upon our view of God.   

We also learned about the historic Lick 36” Reflector.  Watching the roof open and the telescope move into place was fascinating. We were treated to a magnificent view of Jupiter, a globules cluster and a spectacular nebula with a green light ring around it. 

One of the most beautiful parts of the evening was watching the sunset over the Santa Clara Valley and celebrating Havdalah together at an elevation of 4,200 feet. If you have not seen the sunset from the summit of Mt. Hamilton it is well worth the trip for this moment of beauty. 

Thank you to Jim Katzmann for making this memorable evening possible, to Professor Clare Max for her fascinating lecture, to the wonderful Lick Observatory volunteers and staff who hosted us so nicely, to Rabbi Geoff Mitelman, the Founding Director of Sinai and Synopses who sponsor our Scientists in Synagogues program, to Jack Siegel who worked diligently to secure our Scientists in Synagogues grant, to the Shir Hadash Scientists in Synagogues committee members and to all who were able to participate

2019: Dana Bash on Journalism and Social MediaThe Dana Bash event was a huge success for our Scientists in Synagogues program and drew a large crowd of about 220 people. Dana spoke about how journalism has been influenced by social media and how it has been shaping politics in our country and around the world.

  • She spoke about how easy it was these days for organizations as well as for individuals to publish fake news that shapes public opinion and the harm it can cause.
  • Dana spoke about how extensively social media has been utilized by President Trump and his administration to reach out to and shape public opinion. People had greater responsibility today to check the sources of the news they hear so they can form opinion based on facts and not fake news.  
  • Social media has made it easy for Journalism to get the story out to many people very fast. In the present environment, as technology and social media are taking center stage, Dana Bash pointed out that journalism can and should maintain its historic commitment to truth and ethical values. She noted that now, more than ever before, the need for journalism to get to the truth, to highlight and spotlight the truth, was most important. She said that "Ironically, the world we are living in now is good for traditional journalists like me because it's even more important for our journalism [to get to the truth]."
  • Dana spoke about how Judaism influenced her career in journalism. She said that her Jewish identity, values and heritage shaped the kind of journalist she was and how she approached journalism. 
  • Dana Bash was an excellent speaker, personable, interesting, and approachable.  The audience loved her and listened to her attentively. The Q & A session following her talk was interesting and people raised good questions.  Bash was very kind to talk with a number of people who had follow up questions. 

2019: Russia's Impact on Current World Events and Implications for the Middle East

  • Professor Naimark discussed Russia’s strategic thinking and ambitions, its interest in destabilizing democracies around the world, the relationship between Putin and Netanyahu, and Israel’s relationships with Syria and Iran. Professor Naimark has written extensively on Soviet policies and actions in Europe after World War II, and on genocide and ethnic cleansing in the twentieth century. In his latest book, Genocide: A World History, he presents the history of genocide in a comprehensive but concise way.
  • He earned his Ph.D. in History from Stanford University in 1972, and, before returning to join the faculty in 1988, he was a professor of history at Boston University and a fellow of the Russian Research Center at Harvard.
Sat, September 21 2019 21 Elul 5779