It’s not your bubbe’s Melton: Classes begin Thursday, January 7, 2021

November 25, 2020

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We are thrilled to bring the Florence Melton School of Adult Learning back to Tidewater as part of the Konikoff Center for Learning. Over the past year, I have spoken to many Melton graduates who had wonderful things to say about their time with the mini-school when it was last in town. Most can hardly believe that it has been more than five years since we had a Melton course and wonder, is it the same Melton they know and love? While it is true that Melton has gotten a makeover, it is still rooted in the same philosophy—it is text-based, pluralistic, and interactive.

To help answer some questions, I interviewed Yael Weinstein, Melton’s director of Community and Online Learning.

Sierra Lautman: What is Melton’s vision and how are Melton courses different than others?
Yael Weinstein: Melton is a worldwide movement of committed learners who are empowered to enrich Jewish life. The school engages learners in the life-enhancing study of Jewish texts and ideas. Our accessible approach promotes open dialogue and nurtures a deepening of Jewish community.

SL: It has been a number of years since we have had Melton in our community. What has changed?
YW: Melton has not only updated and rewritten the Core curricula, but we are now producing on average two new curricula per year. We also have a new program called Living Wisdom which consists of nine six-week long thematic courses that engage learners on a journey of their own choosing. We have built up an online presence and are happy to be offering courses that are shorter in nature, as well as our world renowned signature courses that everyone loves.

SL: Should our community members who graduated from Melton with both years of Core, take a class now?
YW: All of the courses have been revised or completely rewritten creating an opportunity to retake the Core Program, or the smaller six week courses that have come out of the original Core. The new scholars classes, such as From Sinai to Seinfeld: Jews and Their Jokes, are fantastic and well worth taking!

SL: What can returning Melton students get out of the new classes?
YW: There is always something new to learn through our curricula, new sources, new perspectives, all presented in the Melton method. It is a can’t miss.

SL: Our Melton courses will be online through the spring semester. What are some of the benefits to taking a Melton course online?
YW: We have seen learners create community and find meaning online during this challenging time. Many learners have even called Melton a life line while they are social distancing and in some cases staying home completely. Those who are working or home with young children often find it easier to jump onto a Zoom call than drive to a site for an in-person class.

SL: Can an online Melton course give our students the same sense of community as the in-person Melton experience?
YW: Absolutely yes! We have online learners describe Melton as their “Melton Family.” They come on early to catch up and engage with each other. It is fantastic!

For information about Melton or the classes, visit JewishVA.org/KCL and go to ongoing classes or contact Sierra Lautman, director of Jewish Innovation at the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater at slautman@ujft.org or 757-965-6107.

- Sierra Lautman

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