Updated Melton School Offers Same High Quality Programming in More Accessible Format

Another intriguing year of Jewish learning, text investigation, and thought-provoking discussion is in full swing at the Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Columbus. Beginning this October, weekly classes on topics ranging from life after death to Jewish humor, Jewish family living to Torah study, are now offered at the JCC on College Avenue and in New Albany.

The learning opportunities abound as the program has undergone yet another evolution for the 2013-2014 school year. With a new advisory committee, the program’s revitalization efforts are being headed by Carol Radnor, Melton graduate and former JCC Board member. According to Radnor, there will be multiple entry points for adults to engage in Jewish learning in a welcoming community of students from all backgrounds and faiths.

“Melton is not a huge commitment, but the rewards you get from making that commitment will really enhance your life. Time is in short supply for people, but the benefit you get from it is worth juggling your time to do it. For me, Melton was a stimulating environment that broadened my thoughts on the world and especially Jewish life, and I think others will benefit in the same way, whether they can commit to six weeks of study or six years,” said Radnor.

The 2013-14 schedule will offer classes in shorter, 10-week sessions, using an a la carte style menu of offerings.

Based on student feedback gathered in the last year, the Melton program is more committed than ever to maintaining the high-quality standards students have come to depend on, with new teachers and highly relevant, updated course topics.

New teachers to the program this year are Diana D’Angelo-Wolff, who will teach the new offering, Foundations of Jewish Family Living; Beth Tikvah’s Rabbi Emeritus Gary Huber will teach the new course: BeMidBar, Leadership Defied and Defended, inviting learners to rethink commonly held beliefs about heroes and rebels in the dramatic fourth book of the Torah; and Temple Beth Shalom’s Rabbi Benjy Bar-Lev will lead the new course, To Laugh! Jews and Humor: a 5,000 Year Old Love Story.

Diana D’Angelo-Wolff, a Jewish educator for over 25 years with a graduate degree from Brandeis University in Jewish Communal Service and Education, is particularly interested in adult education topics related to Jewish literacy, Israel, the study of Hebrew, and classic Jewish texts.

“I enjoy the give and take of the adult classroom setting and how each student enriches the discussion with their own unique perspective,” said D’Angelo-Wolff. Bringing Jewish family living to the forefront of classroom discussion while combining classic texts and values of Jewish life, the Foundations of Jewish Family Living course will enable students to create modern, relevant connections to the values at the core of Jewish life.

Debbie Goodman, featured guest teacher and former Melton teacher and director, will return to Columbus on November 17-18 to lead Y’mai Limud, the Days of Learning. In a book club discussion and special community learning event, Goodman will focus on the upcoming holiday of Hanukkah and how the events leading up to the rededication of the Temple, specifically the heroic story of Judah Maccabee, were viewed by Jews throughout the ages. Goodman explained that her November teaching engagement will start with investigating source documents and look at the ways the story of Judah Maccabee has been perceived throughout Jewish history and how these perceptions have had an impact on Jewish identity.

“For most of Jewish history, there wasn’t an emphasis on the Judah Maccabee part of the Hanukkah story. We’ve mostly emphasized the spiritual aspects of Hanukkah, which literally means ‘rededication,’” said Goodman of her upcoming visit. “There’s really been a change over time which has to do with the way that we look at ourselves as Jews and the way that the outside culture looks at us. People might be intrigued to understand the development of some of the identities that we carry today. They will be interested to learn more about contemporary Jewish identity and its roots and development over time.”

Goodman is currently the director of the Jewish Life and Learning department of the Denver JCC. She has her Master’s in Theological Studies from the Harvard Divinity School and a Master’s in Jewish Education from Spertus College in Chicago and her Bachelor’s from the University of Colorado. As a teacher in the Florence Melton Adult Mini-School from its inception, Goodman has always had a fondness for the Melton School for its commitment and dedication to furthering Jewish learning with high quality materials and the highest standards for textually-based Jewish education.

“Before Melton there was nothing similar in the way of a standard curriculum for Jewish adult education. The development and constant revision of that outstanding curriculum by Jewish scholars and educators just illustrates the incredible vision of Florence Melton, which is still being carried out around the world today,” Goodman added.

Thanks to funding by the Jewish Federation of Columbus, the Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning continues to enhance lives today. Course sessions begin almost monthly, with the fall session beginning in mid-October and November, winter course offerings starting in mid-January and February, and spring sessions beginning in March. For more information on all the 2013-14 Melton course offerings and pricing, contact Melanie Butter at mbutter@columbusjcc.org.