The Shul of Bal Harbor in Southeast Florida has been a hub for the exchange of scientific knowledge with a Torah perspective since 1987. That’s when Rabbi Sholom Ber Lipskar, its long-serving senior rabbi and founder, established a prestigious conference together with his friend Professor Herman Branover, a refusenik from the former Soviet Union. The biennial conference, subtitled “Absolute Standards in a World of Relativity” was given the blessing of the Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem. M. Schneerson, of righteous memory—who circled the word “relativity” on the invitation.

The Rebbe, a trained scientist who studied engineering in France and Germany before the war, remarked that Albert Einstein’s research probed the nature of light. The Rebbe said then that the same way the speed of physical light provides a measure of absoluteness to the physical world, the light of the Torah—invoked by kindling the Chanukah lights—signifies another level of absoluteness.

This year’s conference, which runs from Dec. 8 to Dec. 11 and will be live streamed on, is titled “The Internet and the Torah: Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Algorithms and Social Media.” The panelists, who intend to focus on the “challenge and promise” of the topics, include Professor Nathan Katz of Florida International University and the CYS College of Jewish Studies—a co-sponsor of the event, being held virtually this year—and Professor Joseph Jacobson of MIT, an award-winning physicist and authority on artificial intelligence.

The conference will examine the dueling perspectives of the timely issues with an open mind, recognizing the tangible and foreseen benefits of different technology to humanity, as well as the challenges they present. Discussing artificial intelligence, for example, international medical and legal experts will explore the privacy issues involved in addition to the neurological and addictive effects.

Rabbi Professor Avraham Steinberg, a renowned authority on Jewish medical ethics and a pediatric neurologist at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, where he also heads the Medical Ethics Unit, will focus on the neurological impacts, while Franklin Zemel, a cyber-privacy attorney, will look at the legal ramifications of technology with the power to know everything about the end-user.

Rabbinic experts in the field will weigh in as well, notably’s Rabbi Motti Seligson, who will give a talk titled “Using Technology for Its Higher Purpose.” Chabad emissary Rabbi Pinchas Taylor will discuss the Internet’s impact on dreams, and Dr. Margarita Quihuis, a Reuters Fellow at Stanford, will argue that potential technology has to be a force for global peace.

The Miami-based conference is open to the public and accessible live on