Cosmic Judaism: Synagogue’s new approach unites science and religion
By Sergio Carmona, South Florida Sun Sentinel July 24, 2020
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Sun Sentinel logoCosmic Judaism: Synagogue’s new approach unites science and religion
Cosmic Judaism is coming to Congregation L’Dor Va-Dor in Boynton Beach.
a group of people standing around a table with wine glasses: Photographed are Rabbi Barry Silver, left, and congregants of Congregation L’Dor Va-Dor in Boynton Beach during a Shabbat service in 2019. The synagogue plans to launch its new approach to Cosmic Judaism during the High Holidays this year.© file photo/South Florida Sun Sentinel/TNS Photographed are Rabbi Barry Silver, left, and congregants of Congregation L’Dor Va-Dor in Boynton Beach during a Shabbat service in 2019. The synagogue plans to launch its new approach to Cosmic Judaism during the High Holidays this year.
This new approach is intended to interpret religion through science and will be launched during the synagogue’s High Holiday services, said Rabbi Barry Silver, its spiritual leader.
Silver said Cosmic Judaism began with his late father Samuel Silver, a Reform rabbi. “He believed in God, but not the God of the Bible, and preached and wrote in various books that he authored that every concept of Judaism, including God, should be rational and logical, and that God should be thought of as a hypothesis, not a fact,” he said.
“Thus, the hypothesis is modified and altered as new facts emerge, which is why the concept of God has been evolving in Judaism since the beginning, except for those who are stuck in the past and have altered Judaism by trying to stop its growth and fix its development in a rigid and dangerous Orthodoxy.”
“L’Dor Va-Dor means ‘generation to generation,’ and so our congregation derives its ideological roots from my father who preached a rational faith, which continues with me,” Silver said. “That progression of thought can be seen in my son Ari, who is 18 and has a similar but unique perspective.”
Silver said he also drew inspiration from scientists Albert Einstein and Carl Sagan for this approach.
The synagogue left Reform Judaism in 2016 and has been unaffiliated for four years.
“The Cosmic Jewish approach, which interprets Judaism through science and reason, was overwhelmingly voted on and approved twice by our congregants,” Silver said. “I do not know of any other congregation where the ideology was not just imposed upon the members or based on the rabbi, but where the members actually voted on two separate occasions to support the ideology, which is a unique approach to Judaism.”
Marjie Goldman-Spaderna, the synagogue’s social action chairperson, said, “For me, it’s essential in terms of bringing us to the next evolution of Judaism, the way that we practice it and the way that we understand it in modern terms.
“Praying is a wonderful great thing, but unless it’s backed up by action, the prayer really doesn’t have a lot of relevance except for how good you’re feeling internally, so we must get out there and we must act because without action, nothing will happen,” she continued.
Silver said the synagogue is trying to bring all kinds of Jewish people together, including Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist and unaffiliated.
“We try to bring the best in Judaism by tapping into the different Jewish denominations,” he added.
Silver said the synagogue is launching its approach during the High Holidays, which begin on the evening of Sept. 18, because that is when change takes place. He also said it is a time of reflection.
“It’s a time to look at where we’ve been, where we’re now and where we’re going in the future, so we’re going to talk about the future of Judaism and where we’re heading, which should be in a rational science-based approach to Judaism.”
Most of the synagogue’s holiday services will be hosted virtually this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Silver said he hopes to have a few outdoor services with social distancing and other safety measures in place.
Silver said the synagogue is planning to leave its location in Boynton Beach and move to another one in Palm Beach County when it is safe for congregations to meet under one roof again.
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