Opening New Vistas
Melton Mini-School graduates dared to learn and share with each other.
n a season of graduations, this one was a bit differ-
ent. On May 28, 104 adults graduated from the two-
year Florence Melton Adult Mini-School. It was
quite an accomplishment for them and for our com-
"It's hard for adults to learn — to put their dignity aside,
to say they don't know something," Rivy Poupko Kletenik,
director of Jewish education services for the Jewish
Federation of Greater Seattle, told the
crowd packed into Handleman Hall at the
Jewish Community Center in West
Bloomfield. "But you learn to share a ques-
tion, bare yourself. To study together is to
take risks. These are best friends sitting in
Graduates nodded their heads in agree-
ment. Meeting other people hungry for
Jewish knowledge and then learning from
each other has been a hallmark of the pro-
gram initiated by Florence Zacks Melton of
Philadelphia in 1986.
She envisioned a "school for adult learn-
one that would challenge their intellect
while introducing them to the complexity,
the depth and the beauty of our shared
Jewish heritage, opening new pathways to a spiritual jour-
Fueled by her vision, 62 mini-schools now operate in the
U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and Israel.
Detroit's mini-school receives support from the Jewish
Federation of Metropolitan Detroit and the JCC.
The curriculum for the two-year course is standardized
and developed at the Hebrew University Melton Centre for
Jewish Education. It is meant to appeal to all streams of
Judaism and many levels of learners — those with basic
Hebrew school knowledge to those who may have attended
Students meet once a week for 30 weeks. In the first year,
they study "Rhythms of Jewish Living" (rituals and life-
cycle observances) and "Purposes of Jewish Living" (theo-
logical concepts from the Bible, Talmud and other texts). In
the second year, students focus on "Ethics of Jewish Living"
and "Dramas of Jewish Living Throughout the Ages."
There are no tests and little homework. The only require-
ment is a commitment to learn.
Melton draws all sorts of Jews to its classes, which are
offered during the day and in the evening to accommodate
busy schedules. Husband-and-wife teams, mothers and
daughters, even parents and adult children are drawn to the
program. Many students are Sunday school teachers or b'nai
mitzvah tutors. A few are yeshiva graduates, and some are
Jews by choice. They come from all streams and bring their
experiences to the table.
"Melton is my gift to myself," said graduate Bertha
Davidson of Livonia, a longtime religious school teacher.
"People kid me and say, 'How can you learn any more?' I
listen and talk, talk, talk."
Graduate Jeremy Kahn of Royal Oak says he brings what
he learns home to his wife, Beth.
"I love to come home and discuss with Beth," he said.
"Almost every lesson, I come home with something valu-
Instructor Dr. Mitch Parker with first yearstudents Sherri
Stern, Sheila Shiffer, Paula Korelitz and Elliot Lewkow.
Bringing Melton home for practical application is a great
benefit for students and a goal of the program, said Aviva
Panush, Melton director and associate director for profes-
sional development for Federation's Alliance for Jewish
'As adult learners, you are models for our children," she
told the graduates. "You model that Jewish education is not
a pediatric exercise."
Students get hooked on Melton. Panush says more than
50 percent of this year's graduates have registered for grad-
uate classes. And more than 75 percent of first-year students
have signed up for next year, with more to come.
One of the draws are the teachers, students say. This
year's instructors were Rabbi Aaron Berman, Tzvi Schostak,
Dr. Mitch Parker, Aviva Silverman, Rabbi Charles Popky
and Michael Weiss. All faculty required are to take enrich-
ment classes to hone their already-extensive knowledge.
This year, Dr. Parker joined the Chicago-based North
American Melton staff as director of the parenting educa-
tion program, a pilot project geared to families with young
children. Along with this half-time position, he also works
with children with learning and developmental disabilities
at the Keller Clinic in Birmingham. He's coordinated the
special needs program at Hillel Day School and, for 11
years, has run a special needs program at Camp Ramah in
Before Detroit, Dr. Parker taught Melton courses in
Buffalo. He's also participated in two Melton teachers' con-
ferences in Jerusalem.
"I really love teaching Melton; each class is unique and
has its own flavor," he said. "It excites me. I enjoy the give
and take and the surprise questions."
That give and take is the thrill of Melton. Ask any gradu-
ate or any first-year student like me. There's also joy in the
depth of learning that takes you beyond the basics and
makes you think about your own Jewish practices, that
makes you thirsty for more.
And it can be yours. ❑
For more information about Melton classes, call
Marion Bronstein at (248) 642-4260, ext. 372.
JARC salutes these businesses for
generous donations of goods and
services, allowing us to devote
more resources to those we serve.
A & A Driving School
Action Video & Imaging, Inc.
Advance Packaging Technologies
Automatic Apartment Laundries
Jo Bruce Corporate Training Assoc.
Joe Cornell Entertainment
Detroit Popcorn Company
Faces in the Air, Ltd.
FASTSIGNS of Farmington Hills
Barry W. Feldman, M.D.
Golden Valley Dairy
Grace & Wild Studios, Inc.
Great Lakes Landscape Design
Harry's Garden Centers, Inc.
Hersch's Lawn Spray
House of Blinds and Drapery
Michael Jonas Photography
Kleiman, Carney and Greenbaum, PC
Lapides Publicity Group
Lighting Supply Company
Linwood Pipe and Supply Company
Lynn and Mall Optical
Management Diversified, Inc.
Martel & Company
Cheryl Melamed Photography
Metropolitan Heating and Cooling
Gary D. Miller
Mold Testing Solutions
New Horizons Computer Learning
Pest Arrest, Inc.
Production Tool Supply Company
Resource Data Systems Corporation
Rock Homes, Inc.
The Sports Gallery
Star Trax Event Productions
Tracey and Associates
Unique Restaurant Corporation
Walker Printery, Inc.
Zalenko & Associates, PC
Zack and Miller, CPA, PC
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