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Melton CEO Judy Mars Kupchan presented the 2018 Florence Melton Award to the Florence Melton School of B'nai Torah Congregation in Boca Raton, FL. She presented the award on the opening day of the 23rd Annual International Directors Conference, held Jan. 15-20, 2018, in Jerusalem.

Penina Bredoff, Director of Melton at B’nai Torah Congregation, accepted the award on behalf of the congregation, which honors one Melton school from the worldwide network that models best practices and exemplifies the high standards of the Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning. The award was established in 2009 to memorialize founder Florence Melton, z"l, and to provide a cash award to one Melton School whose accomplishments are stellar.

This year the award is especially significant, as B’nai Torah Congregation was Florence Melton’s congregation, and Rabbi David Steinhardt was a teacher and close friend of the late founder. It was Rabbi Steinhardt who took on the challenge of reviving the school when it was closed in the community. Melton’s new home at B’nai Torah Congregation has given new life to the school and new learning opportunities to hundreds of adult learners in the Boca Raton area.

The whole Melton organization congratulates Bredoff and on her accomplishments, and Melton CEO Kupchan said, “Penina’s passionate commitment to her congregation and to the Florence Melton School is inspiring. She is a role model to all our directors and B’nai Torah is a model for all our congregational schools of the role Melton can play in such a dynamic learning congregation.”

In addition to the cash prize, the Florence Melton Award also includes an opportunity for a learning event in the community, sponsored by the Gordon Zacks Chair of Learning and Leadership.

Rabbi Steinhardt said, “The beauty of the Melton program is that it provides our texts which inform our history, life, values and identity. They are packaged in such a way that the learner who is just entering the world of Jewish study can understand them and be comfortable with them. So often traditional learning models are so threatening to adults who have little or no background and so they may feel inadequate. In a Melton class, everyone can access the texts and every voice is encouraged and meaningful.”

B’nai Torah Congregation has sponsored Melton’s high-quality adult learning for the past four years, and provides classes from the Melton Scholars Curriculum for graduates as well. As a pluralistic, non-denominational program of study, B’nai Torah Congregation is proud that 35 students will graduate from Melton this May, representing congregants from many different congregations as well as the unaffiliated throughout the community. In the past four years, 46 Melton classes have been offered and more than 250 students have attended classes each year throughout the community at B’nai Torah Congregation, Congregation B’nai Israel and The Adolph & Rose Levis Jewish Community Center.

The annual International Directors Conference brings directors from around the world to enhance professional development, share best practices, and grow Jewishly. This year’s conference focused on “Social Justice in Zion” and featured workshops and networking designed to support the growth and sustainability of Melton schools, presentations by rabbis and scholars, and first-hand encounters with social justice efforts and leaders in Israel.

During the directors conference, awards of excellence also were presented. Recipients were: 

  • Rhonda Lillianthal, Director, Metrowest, West Orange / JCC of MetroWest New Jersey – Dedication & Leadership
  • Viv Anstey, Director, and Lauren Snitcher, Assistant Director, Cape Town, South Africa – Dedication & Leadership
  • Deborah Slosberg, Director, Congregation Adath Jeshurun in Louisville, KY – Vision & Support of the Melton Travel Seminars
  • Rabbi Karen Strok, Director, Stephen Wise Temple – Vision & Support of the Melton Travel Seminars

Rabbi Steven Gartner, Director of the Melton School at the Soloway Jewish Community Center in Ottawa, Ontario, was unable to attend but was honored for Dedication & Leadership.

See more photos from the International Directors Conference on Flickr

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