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Pilot program offers adult ed for busy Jewish parents
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Pilot program offers adult ed for busy Jewish parents

Melton Mini-School creates curriculum as an ‘entry point’

Staff Writer, New Jersey Jewish News

Florence Melton Adult Mini-School students gather for a recent class at Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in Short Hills; the new Melton curriculum will be geared toward families.
Florence Melton Adult Mini-School students gather for a recent class at Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in Short Hills; the new Melton curriculum will be geared toward families.

Parents of young families are the target population of a new curriculum being piloted by the Florence Melton Adult Mini-School in 25 communities around the country, including the MetroWest area.

Focusing on family living, the classes will discuss values related to the Jewish holidays and everyday life, including protecting the environment, welcoming the “other,” creating a Jewish home, and overcoming anger.

“We have a huge nursery school population, and we hear a lot of parents saying they don’t have time for Jewish learning,” said Rhonda Lillianthal, director of JCC MetroWest’s Center for Jewish Life, at the Cooperman JCC in West Orange. “People find time for things they value. If we offer something they feel they can apply directly to parenting,” she said, they may be able to find the time to enroll.

The new curriculum, known as Foundation of Jewish Family Living, demands much less of a commitment than the Melton Adult Mini-School core curriculum, an intense, two-year, 120-hour program of adult Jewish education offered locally and in 60 cities throughout the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia.

Those who sign up for the family track will take 20 classes over the course of one year, for a total of 30 hours of learning.

“It’s an entry point,” said Lillianthal.

Melton, a project of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, is headquartered in North America in Northbrook, Ill. The umbrella organization introduced FJFL in January to a small number of schools and is continuing the pilot this fall.

FJFL focuses on one core value each week, explored through stories from the Torah and Jewish tradition, along with texts and articles analyzing the issues with an eye toward contemporary life.

The first semester delves into the yearly holiday cycle, while the second semester looks at day-to-day values.

Locally, registration for both the Melton core curriculum and Foundation of Jewish Family Living began Aug. 14. The core curriculum begins in September, Foundations in November. The new classes will be offered at three different locations: Tuesday mornings at Congregation Agudath Israel of West Essex in Caldwell, Wednesday mornings at Temple B’nai Jeshurun in Short Hills, and Friday mornings at the Leon & Toby Cooperman JCC, Ross Family Campus, in West Orange.

For more information, contact Rhonda Lillianthal at 973-530-3519 or rlillianthal@jccmetrowest.org.

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