Congregation taps members’ academic expertise for lecture series

By Logan C. Ritchie | lritchie@atljewishtimes.com

Congregation Shearith Israel, in the heart of Morningside, is launching its Synagogue Scholars and Author Series on Wednesday, Oct. 28. With talent and expertise in various academic fields, each highlighted synagogue member will give a talk from his field of study.

Speakers include Emory University and Georgia State University academics, as well as author and former CNN reporter Joshua Levs.

Nancy Gorod, Shearith’s director of congregational learning, said: “The congregation is proud of its intellectual curiosity and love of in-depth learning. We are a congregation with fortunately a wealth of scholars in our community due to the proximity of Emory and Georgia State.”

Emory’s Paul Root Wolpe kicks off the series with his lecture on “Jews and Genes: A Troubled History, a Challenging Future” on Oct. 28. Wolpe speaks internationally on the subject of science and ethics. As the first senior bioethicist for NASA, he formulates policy on bioethical issues and on safeguarding research subjects. He is a co-editor of the American Journal of Bioethics. At Emory, Wolpe is a professor of bioethics, the Raymond F. Schinazi distinguished research chair in Jewish education and the director of the Center for Ethics.

Longtime Shearith Israel member and Emory psychology professor Marshall Duke is the series’ final scheduled speaker.

Longtime Shearith Israel member and Emory psychology professor Marshall Duke is the series’ final scheduled speaker.

Next up is lecturer Melvin Konner on “Women After All? Adventures in ‘Natural Superiority’ ” on Nov. 11. His lecture will include material based on his recent book, “Women After All: Sex, Evolution and the End of Male Superiority.”

Konner, a medical doctor and an anthropologist and an expert in the suffrage movement, states that women are far superior to men in ways that will be evident in the future. He is the Samuel Candler Dobbs professor of anthropology at Emory.

On Dec. 9, Don Samuel will speak on “The Fourth Amendment in an Age of Terrorism: Our Right of Privacy vs. Government Surveillance.”

Samuel is a partner at Garland, Samuel and Loeb and an adjunct law professor at Georgia State, where he teaches a course on white-collar criminal defense. In 2016, he is teaching a University of Georgia School of Law course in business crimes with Larry Thompson, a former U.S. deputy attorney general.

Samuel’s well-known cases include the murder trials of Jim Williams, the antiques dealer in Savannah whose case was chronicled in “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” and trials involving former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis and Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Joshua Levs on Jan. 13 will share the book he released this summer: “All In: How Our Work First Culture Fails Dads, Families, and Businesses and How We Can Fix It Together.” Levs, a journalist and fatherhood columnist, was denied parental leave after his youngest child’s birth and fought CNN and its parent company, Time Warner.

He has become a leading advocate for modern families, and “All In” has drawn national attention.

The series culminates Feb. 10 with Marshall Duke, a professor of psychology at Emory. He will lecture on “Let Me Tell You a Story: The Remarkable Power of Family Narratives.” He is the author of seven books and countless articles on children and social norms, personality studies, and emotional intelligence. Duke has appeared on national radio programs and morning shows, and his research has been described in major newspapers from The New York Times to The Washington Post.

Each lectures is free and begins at 7:30 p.m. For more information, contact ngorod@shearithisrael.com.