Lab (stock image)
Lab (stock image) iStock

The Jerusalem College of Technology (JCT) today announced the launch of the first-of-its-kind Torah and Technology Research Center, which will provide the specialized expertise necessary to respond to the complex ethical and Halachic (Jewish legal) issues of our times.

Operating under the direction of internationally respected posek (Halachic decision-maker) Rabbi Yosef Tzvi Rimon, Head of JCT’s yeshiva and Jewish studies programs, the center pioneers a unique collaboration between Halachic experts and renowned faculty members from the college’s computer science, engineering, and health sciences departments in order to address the influx of emerging questions pertaining to both Torah and technology.

Examples of such inquiries include:

-Is it permissible to ride in an autopilot vehicle on Shabbat?

-Can “meat” grown using cells taken from a pig be kosher, or even parve?

-Can you send Alexa voice commands on Shabbat?

“Despite rapid technological development and growth, there is currently no centralized, scholarly body equipped to deal with all of the Halachic implications and questions that have arisen as a result. Our new center fills that void,” said Rabbi Rimon.

“Today, not only are Halachic authorities struggling to keep up with the flood of questions regarding issues that never before existed, but they also lack the technological expertise necessary to understand the full scope of the issues. The Torah and Technology Research Center strives to solve this dilemma by facilitating an unprecedented meeting of the minds across Halacha and science.”

Among his numerous scholarly writings, Rabbi Rimon most recently published a two-volume set of books entitled “Shabbat” as a first step towards a comprehensive in-depth analysis of the prohibitions of Shabbat. He is also the Founder and Chairman of Sulamot (formerly the Halacha Education Center), an organization which develops cutting-edge educational technologies and innovative curricula for Jewish studies. Sulamot will be partnering with JCT in the Torah and Technology Research Center.

Support for the center is made possible by the Walder Foundation, a family foundation based in the Chicago area. Dr. Joseph and Elizabeth Walder have been passionately interested in science education within the world of Jewish schools for many years, and the new Torah and Technology Research Center is very much in keeping with Walder’s world view that embraces science and technology within a halachically observant Jewish world.

In addition to serving as a centralized authority for the international Jewish community, the nascent Research Center will facilitate the development of innovative technologies specifically adapted to meet Halachic requirements for Shabbat, among other areas, and will disseminate scholarly material.

The center will also host international symposia that will bring leading experts from around the world to JCT to discuss recent innovations and developments on both the Halachic and technological fronts. An important goal of the Center is to engage the broader public in serious discussions of these issues so as to promote greater appreciation of their importance and to educate the public on even the most complex topics.

“For five decades, JCT has been tremendously proud of our excellence in both Jewish studies and technology-related fields. This has expressed itself in providing high-level training to a student body which spans the religious community from Haredi to Dati Leumi. This unparalleled track record places our college in a unique position to be a trailblazer at the intersection of Torah and technology through the new center,” said Prof. Chaim Sukenik, President of JCT.