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Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning begins in October

SPRINGFIELD – The Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning is an educational program for adults to study Judaism through Jewish texts, using a curriculum designed for adult learners. There are no grades, no homework, and no tests. There are no prerequisites – just a desire to gain a profound understanding of what it means to be Jewish. Students at all levels of knowledge and practice are encouraged to discuss and question in a welcoming, interactive environment.

This fall, Year One classes will be offered, which include Rhythms of Jewish Learning and Purposes of Jewish Living. The Rhythms class examines a wide variety of Jewish sources to discover the deeper meanings underlying Jewish holidays, lifecycle observances, and Jewish practice. The Purposes class explores sources, both ancient and modern, in pursuit of answers to many of the major issues of Jewish thought and theology. The classes will be held on Thursdays, and there is a choice of morning or evening classes. The morning classes will be held from 9-11a.m. at Heritage Academy, and the evening classes will take place from 7-9 p.m. at Jewish Geriatric Services. Classes start on Thursday, Oct. 1. Tuition is $460, plus a mandatory Melton registration fee of $75. Financial subsidies are available upon request.

In addition, the following three graduate classes will be offered. Please note that you do not need to have taken the Year One or Two classes to participate in these classes.


Israel Reading Group – In this “book club” format, we will read selected chapters in two important and relatively recent books: My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel by Ari Shavit, and The Prime Ministers: An Intimate Narrative of Israeli Leadership by Yehuda Avner. By engaging with these books, we will discuss current realities in Israeli society and share perspectives on the lives and decisions of several of the nation’s key leaders guiding the nation through many critical moments. This 11-week class, taught by Rabbi Devorah Jacobson, will be held on Monday evenings from 6:30 – 8 p.m. at Jewish Geriatric Services, beginning Oct. 12. Tuition is $225 plus a $50 mandatory book fee.


Why Do Good People Suffer: The Book of Job and Other Jewish Responses – We will do a close reading of selected chapters from one of the most provocative and enigmatic books of the Hebrew Bible, the Book of Job. We will also study other Jewish texts, including contemporary spiritual and literary sources, as we explore the age-old question of the existence of evil and suffering in the face of an all-knowing and all-powerful Creator. This 10-week class, taught by Rabbi Devorah Jacobson, will be held on Tuesday mornings from 9 – 10:30 a.m. at Jewish Geriatric Services, beginning Oct. 13. Tuition is $225 plus a $25 mandatory material fee.


Top 10 Haftarahs of the Year – This course is comprised of an in-depth textual study of the ten most fascinating haftarot that are read in synagogue on Shabbat during the year. These chapters that appear throughout the Prophets give us particular insights into the weekly Torah portions and yield social, historical, and religious lessons on their own right. Some highlights include the story of the dry bones, God’s rejection of our sacrifices on Yom Kippur, and the Jericho spies. No need to have any prior study in the Prophets to join this class. This 10-week class, taught by Dalia Davis, will be held on Monday mornings from 9:30 – 11 a.m. at Heritage Academy, beginning Oct. 12. Tuition is $225 plus a $25 mandatory material fee.

Partial funding for the Melton program is provided by the Jewish Endowment Foundation, a division of the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts. Class sizes are limited, and participants are encouraged to sign up as soon as possible.


For more information or to request a registration form, please contact Lisa in the Temple Beth El office at (413) 733-4149 or llaudato@tbespringfield.org.

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