The topic of “Neurotheology” has garnered increasing attention in both the academic, religious, scientific, and popular world. However, there have been no attempts at exploring more specifically how Jewish religious thought and experience may intersect with neurotheology. The Rabbi’s Brain engages this groundbreaking area. Topics included relate to a neurotheological approach to the foundational beliefs that arise from the Torah and associated scriptures, Jewish learning, an exploration of the different elements of Judaism (i.e. reform, conservative, and orthodox), an exploration of specifically Jewish practices (i.e. Davening, Sabbath, Kosher), and a review of Jewish mysticism. The Rabbi’s Brain engages these topics in an easy to read style and integrates the scientific, religious, philosophical, and theological aspects of the emerging field of neurotheology. By reviewing the concepts in a stepwise, simple, yet thorough discussion, readers regardless of their background, will be able to understand the complexities and breadth of neurotheology from the Jewish perspective. More broadly, issues will include a review of the neurosciences and neuroscientific techniques; religious and spiritual experiences; theological development and analysis; liturgy and ritual; epistemology, philosophy, and ethics; and social implications, all from the Jewish perspective.
About the Authors
Andrew B. Newberg is the Director of Research at the Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and Medical College. Dr. Newberg has been particularly involved in the study of mystical and religious experiences throughout his career, in addition to the use of neuroimaging studies in the evaluation of neurological and psychiatric disorders. He is considered a pioneer in the field of neurotheology which seeks to link neuroscience with religious and spiritual experience. Dr. Newberg has published over two hundred articles, essays and book chapters. He is the author or co-author of eight books including the bestselling How God Changes Your Brain (Ballantine, 2009), and Why God Won’t Go Away (Ballantine, 2001). He has presented his work at scientific and religious meetings throughout the world and has appeared on Good Morning America, Nightline, ABC’s World News Tonight, Book TV, National Public Radio, Fresh Air, London Talk Radio, the Discovery Channel, the National Geographic Channel, the BBC, National Public Radio, and the nationally distributed movies, “What the Bleep Do We Know?” and Bill Maher’s movie “Religulous.” His work has been written about in the Los Angeles Times, Time, Newsweek, Discover Magazine, Reader’s Digest, The Washington Post, and the New York Times.
David Halpern is a first-year resident at the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at The Sidney Kimmel Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Prior to attending medical school at Sidney Kimmel Medical College, David spent two years studying Jewish texts and philosophy at Yeshivat Hakotel in the Old City of Jerusalem, Israel. He then returned to New York to earn a B.A. in Psychology at Yeshiva University, where his graduating thesis focused on the intersection of the philosophy of free will as interpreted by Jewish and Christian Theology. David received Rabbinic Ordination in March 2014 from the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary of Yeshiva University. There he created a capstone project exploring the intersection of medical practice with Jewish medical ethics and law. Additionally, David completed rabbinic internships at the Puah Institute, helping Jewish couples navigate infertility, as well as the Organization for the Resolution of Agunot, assisting women in obtaining a Jewish writ of divorce and preventing domestic abuse. Throughout David's time at Jefferson he has been particularly interested in the intersection of Judaism and medicine, as well as Jewish medical ethics. As the President of the Jefferson Jewish Student Association, David coordinated and gave monthly talks on Jewish-themed topics, including: Jewish Holidays, the Jewish Patient, and Judaism and Genetics. Most relevant to this book, David worked with Dr. Andrew Newberg, M.D. at the Myrna Brind Center for Integrative Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital on a theoretical research project exploring topics related to Jewish Neurotheology. David lives with his wife and their two children in suburban Philadelphia.