[by Shiela Steinman Wallace]
Through much of history, the Jewish community has nurtured and taken pride in a commitment to lifelong learning. When the Florence Melton Adult Mini-School came to Louisville in 1999, our Jewish community embraced this tradition with this robust and engaging opportunity for adult Jewish learning.
With the changes in our organized Jewish community and limited resources, the program closed down for a semester last year. But Melton students are dedicated to Jewish learning and through their determination and the commitment of the Jewish Community of Louisville, the program started up again, and the class that should have completed their studies last spring celebrated that milestone with a siyyum and graduation in January. A first year class is also underway.
To help the JCL and the Melton community in Louisville find ways to strengthen and improve the program here, Annie Glickman, the Florence Melton Adult Mini-School regional director came to Louisville on Thursday, March 4. “Through advocacy, marketing and reigniting leadership,” she said, she plans to help the community “promote the advancement of this unique, exciting, dynamic, unsurpassed adult learning experience,” working with “our stakeholders, our rabbis and educators and our professional staff at the Jewish Community of Louisville.”
Glickman described the Melton learning experience as “a text-based, pluralistic, interactive experience or encounter that provides a meaningful understanding of Jewish literacy,” and is working on expanding the Melton School in Louisville “by offering more classes to graduates and more scholars classes.”
Students in the basic Melton program invest two hours a week over a two-year period and come away with a comprehensive knowledge of Jewish life, history and meaning using a curriculum developed by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. They learn from dynamic, motivated teachers – rabbis, cantors, professors and educators from all branches of Judaism.
First year students cover “Rhythms of Jewish Living” and “Purposes of Jewish Living.” Second year students delve into the “Dramas of Jewish Living” and “Ethics of Jewish Living.”
The local Melton program has also offered a variety of graduate classes, most recently the 10-week Scholars Curriculum program, “Bereshit Part I: Adam to Abraham, the First 20 Generations,” and the six-week Continuing Course, “Torah and the New Testament.”
The Melton program continues to grow and expand its offerings. Glickman says the school is launching a “unique class entitled “Foundations of Jewish Family Living” that will reach out to parents of young children.” This 15-week course (which may be expanding to 24 weeks), “will provide seeds for parents … to bring back to their children” and involves less time commitment than the core curriculum.
In Louisville, Glickman is working with the Jewish Community of Louisville’s Executive Director for Philanthropy Alan Engel “to strengthen the lay Advisory Board, who want to further Melton’s mission,” she said. The Advisory Board also hopes “to launch an Alumni Association, which would create a base of support in reengaging learners as well as propelling new graduates to stay involved in the Melton Community.”
It is envisioned that this group will also help provide “local funding to support Melton in efforts to provide scholarships, strengthen faculty development and continue to reach out to the greater Louisville community.”
For more information about the Florence Melton Adult-Mini School in Louisville, contact Engel at 451-8840 or firstname.lastname@example.org.