From the Desk of Rabbi Morey Schwartz, Florence Melton School Director of Education
The Jewish calendar offers us so many opportunities to carve out some time and make it special; however, too all often I find myself acknowledging the occasions but failing to invest them fully with what they offer.
On Shavuot, it is tradition to read the Book of Ruth. Not a long story (only 4 chapters), it is read because it speaks of the wheat harvest, and is related to the personal acceptance of Jewish living, connected to the national acceptance of Torah at Mt. Sinai, an event commemorated on the sixth of Sivan, the holiday of Shavuot.
The hero of the story, Boaz, wishes to comfort Ruth, who has lost her husband and left her people in Moav to follow and support her mother-in-law, Naomi. He offers her to partake of some food:
And Boaz said to her at mealtime, come close and eat from the bread and dip your bread into vinegar and she sat aside from the reapers and he gave her some toasted grain and she ate and was full and had leftovers from her meal. (Chapter 2, Verse 14)
Rabbi Yitzchak son of Merion taught: … If Boaz would have known it would be recorded (in the Bible) that he gave Ruth some toasted grain, he would have run to prepare a lavish feast with roasted meat. (Midrash Ruth Rabbah, Parashah 5)
What Rabbi Yitzchak’s point here? Does he mean to suggest that Boaz was stingy? I don’t think so. I suggest that Rabbi Yitzchak is speaking to human nature. He is reminding us that all too often significant opportunities pass without us making the most of them, and that if we would stop and think about how we would want the moment to be remembered, we would invest much more of ourselves into the occasion.
Shavuot has become the holiday associated with Torah study. Many Jews worldwide stay up at night to learn as the focus of their celebration. The learning is of course commendable, but taking out a few moments to consider the significance of learning is something sorely missing from the practice. While studying in the Florence Melton School is part of a personal journey of adult Jewish learning, it seems to me that it is a lot more than that.
Consider what it means that in our contemporary world, with all of the demands upon our time and attention, there are nonetheless adults worldwide dedicating collectively thousands of hours to Jewish learning each week. What does that say about our generation? What does it say about the times in which we are living? As we celebrate Shavuot, it is worth stopping to think about what a powerful statement we are making in the year 2014 when we set aside time weekly for Jewish learning.
Also, let us consider that Jewish adult learning is not only about satisfying our hunger for a number of lessons, with “texts of toasted grain,” rather, it is about spreading before ourselves a lavish feast of which we will continue to partake for the rest our lives.
All in the Melton Family
Tis the season when plans are underway for new Melton communities to open in the fall of 2014.
Conversations are active in numerous communities.We welcome the newest Melton Schools to join our global network for 2014 as of this writing:
B’nai Torah Congregation will become the new home for Melton in Boca Raton, FL.
Bialik College, a very large K-12 day school in Melbourne, Australia, will introduce Melton to the community through two Foundations of Jewish Family Living courses.
Mosaic Law is the lead congregation in Sacramento, CA that will be bringing Melton to the community. New director Sara Kahn Shapiro is already recruiting students.
Melton is returning to the Palo Alto, CA community after an absence of four years with a consortium of partners including Kehillah Jewish High School.
After an absence of 6 years, Melton will be returning to St. Paul, MN in a partnership with the Talmud Torah of St. Paul and the JCC.
– Judy Mars Kupchan, CEO, The Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning
Torah for Chodesh Sivan 5774
This month's Torah from Our Teachers comes from Rabbi Paula Mack Drill, on what the journey through the desert teaches about the balance between free will and God's direction.
Rabbi Drill has taught he has Melton for 15 years and currently serves as one of two rabbis of the Orangetown Jewish Center, Orangeburg, NY. Read her Dvar Torah online or download it here.
2015 IDC Comes to Israel
The 2015 International Directors Conference will be held from Monday, January 12 – Saturday, January 17 in Israel! We will share additional details as soon as they become available.
Melton Online Goes Abroad
Melton Online has been selected to launch a new learning experience for young Jewish adults in countries throughout Europe. With support from an anonymous funder, Melton Online Europe will recruit students who want to explore their Jewish connection with our signature, text-based, interactive learning.
Beginning in October 2014, we will offer an online adaptation of the Melton Ethics of Jewish Living course for this very select audience. Melton Online Europe will target participants in Romania, Poland, Hungary, and other countries where many young adults are discovering their Jewishness and searching for ways to deepen their understanding.
The 10-week course will offer a unique opportunity to the participants to engage in serious Jewish learning, with an online connection to other young Jewish adults across the continent. Both the curriculum and the language of instruction will be in English, but the adaptation of the learning will take seriously the needs of this particular population. Opportunities for trans-denominational adult Jewish learning are limited in Europe, and Melton Online Europe offers both an experience in Jewish literacy as well as community building.
With a similar goal of bringing high-quality Jewish learning to individuals and communities where live Melton classes are not available, Melton Online will begin its third year in North America as well. Look for the schedule of classes for Melton Online soon on our website at www.meltonschool.org.
For more information about Melton Online or Melton Online Europe, contact Director Jonathan Fass at firstname.lastname@example.org
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.