It’s not Pesach quite yet, but here’s a good question: What’s the very best thing you can give an educator? Answer: the opportunity to multiply outstanding education in the world! So when my Miami adult education volunteers asked me how I wanted to be honored for my 20 years in the rabbinate and my 15 years as director of Miami’s Melton School, I said: “Endow a Melton curriculum in my honor.” What better way is there to increase the value of a gift than to pass it on to hundreds, if not thousands, of others? And that’s how the newest Rachel Wasserman Course—Jewish Mysticism and Kabbalah: Secret Knowledge in Judaism—came to be.
And what an honor it is!!! This semester, I am blessed to be teaching Melton’s Mysticism curriculum to two different classes and loving it. Though the topic is very difficult both to comprehend and to teach, the faculty guide is extremely helpful. The selection of texts is interesting and wide-ranging. And the curriculum author, Professor Hartley Lachter, has included intriguing questions for discussion at several points in each lesson.
Melton’s Director of Curriculum and Faculty Development, Rabbi Morey Schwartz, has been very supportive with suggestions for further reading and approaches to teaching this challenging material. And the students are enjoying finally having a context for understanding one of the most talked-about, but least-understood aspects of Judaism in the modern world.
An additional benefit to teaching this curriculum has been that the subject matter has challenged me to do some personal spiritual soul-searching that has neatly coincided with the two-year course of study I am undertaking with the Institute for Jewish Spirituality. Since mysticism is all about opening up one’s consciousness in multiple ways, I decided to begin each lesson with a meditation, a kavannah, or a niggun in an attempt to access greater mindfulness and heightened perceptions. In addition, I finish each class with an optional assignment, such as: “Seek out instances of paradoxes in life” or “Ask yourself ‘what is God trying to teach me?’ when something happens to you” or “Can something intangible be real—and if so, how do you know?”
All in all, having a curriculum endowed in my honor has only highlighted what a privilege it has been to serve as a director and member of faculty in our Miami Melton School. I feel blessed to be the impetus for enabling potentially thousands of students across the globe to study Torah (in its widest sense) through the merit of this wonderful course.
Rabbi Efrat Zarren-Zohar is a Melton Regional Director as well as the Director of the Miami Melton School.
Download a preview of the Civil Rights material to be covered in the Kallah
There are still spaces available for the Kallah in Atlanta on March 30-April 1, 2014 led by faculty members Professor Mark Bauman, Melton Director of Seminars Haim Aronovitz, and Atlanta Melton Director Dr. Shelley Buxbaum.
A section from the book The Quiet Voices, edited in part by Kallah keynote speaker Professor Bauman, can be downloaded here. The article focuses on Northern and Southern Jewish responses to the Civil Rights movement and will give you a taste of what particpants will experience together at the Kallah.
This month's Torah from Our Teachers comes from Rabbi Pamela Jay Gottfried on the subject of "Parashat Tazria: Atonement After Childbirth."
Pamela wrote Found in Translation: Common Words of Uncommon Wisdom. She teaches at the Brill Institute of the MJCCA (Atlanta, GA). Read her Dvar Torah online or download it here.
Hold the dates for our NEWEST Melton seminar, October 12-22, 2015 in Italy and Israel!
The Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning is the largest pluralistic adult Jewish education network in the world. With 45 locations in North America, Great Britain, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and Hong Kong, the Melton School sets the standard for high-quality, text-based, interactive Jewish study. Founded by Florence Zacks Melton with the vision of impacting the destiny of the Jewish people through transformative learning, the Melton School has more than 30,000 graduates worldwide today. The hallmark of the Melton School is its world-class curriculum, which continues to inform and inspire adult learners from all knowledge-levels and backgrounds.
The Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning — Adult Learning for the Wondering Jew.