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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Science, the Soul, and Einstein's Rabbi(s)

Rabbi Michael Cohen of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies in Israel has written a unique novella called Einstein's Rabbi. The book is written as a series of conversations between the fictional Rabbi Ternfka—a character created from conversations Einstein had throughout this life with several real rabbis—and his young student Joseph. The dialogues, which are based on Einstein's actual words as they've been recorded, guide Joseph's own spiritual journey.
"While Einstein was not a religious person in the sense of ritual and a personal God, he was what we would call today spiritual in the sense of awe at the mystery of the power and order of the universe,” Cohen says. “His tool was not prayer or ritual, but science.”
Cohen began the book 28 years ago as a class assignment and has since used his personal experience as a rabbi to help shape and structure the work and give it what he hopes is an “authentic voice.” The novel is a fast read for “anyone interested in the question of science and religion,” he says. “Science and religion have different approaches at their core in many ways they are trying to figure out how the world operates.” —Michele Calandra