Melton & More Course Descriptions

Core Course Descriptions
Scholars Course Descriptions

Core Courses

Year One

Rhythms of Jewish Living
This course focuses on the holidays, rites of passage, and daily rituals of Jewish tradition, using a wide variety of Jewish sources to discover the deeper meaning behind Jewish practice.

Purposes of Jewish Living
This course addresses the "why" of Jewish belief and behavior and delves into the big questions of life from a Jewish perspective.

Year Two

Crossroads of Jewish History
This course defines periods in Jewish history and provides an understanding of how these crossroads have shaped Judaism and Jewish identity as we know it today.

Ethics of Jewish Living
This course provides an overview of how Jewish thinkers, ancient and contemporary, can shed light on the ethical issues of today.

Melton & More Scholars Courses 

American Jewish Culture
Thursdays, Trimester 1 I Rabbi Kenny Weiss
10:45 AM–11:45 AM I Merfish Teen Center
This course will explore American Jewish culture from Eastern European immigration through the present, examining popular materials and everyday practices that help illustrate how Jewish immigrants transformed themselves into American Jews.

Ayeka: 9 Steps to Becoming a More Loving, Patient, & Giving Person
Thursdays, Trimester 2 I Rabbi Samantha Safran
9:30 AM-10:30 AM
In these turbulent times, it is sometimes difficult for us to see the face of God in others. How can we use Jewish texts and tradition to better our spiritual selves? How can we behave with greater love, kindness, and patience? These sessions will provide the venue for reflecting on ourselves and our relationships through a Jewish lens

Becoming Americans: The Jewish Immigrant Experience in America
Thursdays, Trimester 2 I Dr. Joshua Furman
9:30 AM–10:30 AM I Merfish Teen Center
We will examine the forces that drove Jewish immigrants to American shores over the past three and a half centuries, discover the opportunities and challenges that America presented for new Jewish arrivals, and consider how this history informs our understanding of what it means to be and become Americans in the twenty-first century.

MELTON! Beyond Borders: The History of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, Part 2
Tuesdays, Trimester 1 I Rabbi Gideon Estes
9:30 AM–11:00 AM I Congregation Or Ami
This course provides a strong, text-based historical overview of the conflict from the late nineteenth century through today, and is a continuation from Part 1. Issues of religion, culture, history, politics, economics, identity and survival are reflected through primary sources designed to encourage discussion and debate.

Ethical Mystics
Rabbi Dr. Danny Horwitz
Tuesdays, Trimester 1 | 7:00 PM–8:00 PM | Evelyn Rubenstein JCC
What did the classical Jewish teachers have to say about ethics, and how did Kabbalistic teachers build upon that framework? Learn valuable moral insights from the mystical texts of Safed as well as the Hasidic masters.

MELTON! Exodus 1: From Slavery to Sinai
Thursdays, Trimester 2 I Rabbi Ranon Teller
10:45 AM–12:15 PM I Merfish Teen Center
This course brings us the Egyptian narrative of our people, the dramatic story of our rescue, and survival in the wilderness. Leadership, bravery, faith and doubt define some of the critical moments in these texts and offer us a rich backdrop for challenging some of our own assumptions.

MELTON! Exodus 2: Revelation and Revolution
Thursdays, Trimester 3 I Rabbi Samantha Safran
10:45 AM–12:15 PM I Merfish Teen Center
This course follows the development of the emerging Jewish nation from the awe-inspiring encounter at Mount Sinai through the building of the tabernacle in the wilderness. We will address some of the specific laws and regulations that were to become part of Jewish living as well as the meaning, purpose, and relevance to our lives today.

Famous Conservative Teshuvot
Tuesdays, Trimester 2 I Rabbi Jill Levy
7:00 PM - 8:00 PM | Evelyn Rubenstein JCC
We will study famous teshuvot (responsa) from the Conservative Movement along with relevant classic texts. Topics include musical instruments on Shabbat, eating kitniyot on Passover, and nursing in the synagogue. 

MELTON! Genesis 1: From Adam to Abraham
Tuesdays, Trimester 1 | Rabbi Samantha Safran
7:00 PM – 8:30 PM I Evelyn Rubenstein JCC
The stories in this course take us from the creation of the world, the flood, and the Tower of Babel to Abraham and Sarah and the beginnings of the Jewish people. The themes of faith, honor and dishonor, passion and power provide a rich exploration of these ancestral and universal tales.

MELTON! Genesis 2: The First Jewish Family
Tuesdays, Trimester 3 I Rabbi Gideon Estes | 9:30 AM–11:00 AM I Congregation Or Ami
This course follows the development of the first Jewish family. These stories of sibling rivalry, wrestling with an angel, palace seduction and reconciliation provide some of the most dramatic and iconic images that reverberate across the millennia.

Jewish Artists: From Chagall to Rothko
Dr. Bernice Heilbrunn Potvin
Tuesdays, Trimester 2 | 10:15 AM–11:15 AM | Evelyn Rubenstein JCC
Tuesdays, Trimester 2 | 7:00 PM–8:00 PM | Evelyn Rubenstein JCC
Thursdays, Trimester 3 | 10:45 AM–11:45 AM I Merfish Teen Center
In this course, we will explore European and American Jewish painters and paintings of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Some documented the lives of the common man, some nostalgically recorded the traditions of their ancestors, and others examined social issues. All of these men and women made great contributions to the art world.

MELTON! Jewish Mysticism & Kabbalah
Tuesdays, Trimester 2 I Rabbi Annie Belford
9:30 AM–11:00 AM I Temple Sinai
This course presents the rich history of Jewish mysticism, along with understandings of many of the texts that have been so central to that tradition, speaking to the deepest mysteries of human existence and to many of life’s eternal universal questions.

MELTON! Jews in America: Insiders and Outsiders, Parts 1 & 2
Mondays, Trimesters 1 & 2 I Ms. Nada Chandler
9:30 AM–10:30 AM I Congregation Emanu El
This course considers the challenges of Jewish acculturation to American life, and the sacrifices as well as the contributions that have been made over the past 200 years. Lessons will explore such topics as Anti-Semitism and the Holocaust, Zionism and the State of Israel, the Civil Rights Movement, and other issues that address American and Jewish culture and identity.

Jews of Poland
Tuesdays, Trimester 2 | Mr. Aaron Howard| 8:15 PM–9:15 PM | Evelyn Rubenstein JCC
Thursdays, Trimester 2 I Mr. Aaron Howard I 10:45 AM - 11:45 AM
By the middle of the 17th century, the Jewish community of Poland-Lithuania was the largest in the world. Here was the center of the Ashkenazi tradition: yeshiva education, Talmudic scholarship, Halakhic investigation, the Yiddish language. We’ll examine the relationship between Jews and Poles. We’ll look at the cultural legacy of Polish Jewry, and we’ll end up with the role Jews play in defining a post-Communist Poland.

A Journey Into the Siddur
Cantor Mark Levine
Tuesdays, Trimester 3 | 8:15 PM–9:15 PM | Evelyn Rubenstein JCC
The Siddur is a theological “tel”, a building of our peoples’ concerns and beliefs upon those of previous generations. It is an encounter with more than 3,000 years of Jewish living and thought, Jewish celebration and Jewish tragedy. Join me in unpacking the depth and brilliance of the Shabbat morning service via structure, history, and theology.

Kabbalah 101
Mondays, Trimester 3 I Rabbi Dr. Danny Horwitz
9:30 AM–10:30 AM I Congregation Emanu El
For some Jews, it is not enough to pray to or understand God; they want to experience God. Find out how Jewish mysticism developed, what it taught, and how it changed the course of Jewish life.

Lives of Sephardic Jews: After 1492
Tuesdays, Trimester 3 | Dr. Bernice Heilbrunn Potvin
10:15 AM–11: 15 AM | Evelyn Rubenstein JCC
This course will look at the descendants of Jewish women and men who fled Spain and Portugal, settled in distant lands and proudly maintained their identity and culture. From Amsterdam to Salonika, Cairo to Recife, London to Algiers, Sephardic Jews in Muslim and Christian lands have many stories to tell us.

Midrash Is The New Black
Thursdays, Trimester 3 | Rabbi Jill Levy
9:30 AM–10:30 AM | Merfish Teen Center
Comedy, drama and statements about the meaning of life all intersect in Midrash. Rabbi Jill will present her “top Midrashim of all time” during this class. It will be text based and contain facilitated discussion.

Misunderstanding the Bible
Thursdays, Trimester 1 | Rabbi David Segal
9:30 AM–10:30 AM | Merfish Teen Center
The Bible is the number one book that Americans like to pretend to have read. In this course, we'll tackle some common misconceptions about it, focusing on translation errors and some thorny interpretive problems. Our primary texts will be excerpts from the Hebrew Bible, as well as Joel Hoffman's book And God Said.

More Modern Jewish Authors
Thursdays, Trimester 1 | Ms. Nada Chandler
9:30 AM–10:30 AM I Merfish Teen Center
An examination of contemporary Jewish authors including Jonathan Safran Foer, Geraldine Brooks, Lauren Belfer, Judy Blume, and Aharon Appelfeld. Because we are the people of the books, the class provides an opportunity to keep abreast of the latest works.

Our Matriarchs & Patriarchs: Their Special Relationships, Parts 1 & 2
Tuesdays, Trimesters 1 & 2 | Ms. Mindeleah Pollak
9:00 AM–10:00 AM I Evelyn Rubenstein JCC
Forget "Brangelina" (they are no longer); who were the IT couples of yesteryear - back in the period of the Torah? Let us travel through time as we learn about the special relationships of our Matriarchs and Patriarchs and what made each couple so unique. We will see who really ran the show and wore the pants in the house.

Ruth: The Great-Grandmother of King David
Tuesdays, Trimester 3 I Ms. Mindeleah Pollak
9:00 AM–10:00 AM I Evelyn Rubenstein JCC
Join us as we study the great-grandmother of the Davidic dynasty—Ruth, who gives up her status as a Moabite princess and embarks on a discovery journey to the land of Judah. Following her mother-in-law to her new home, she finds her own special path of Judaism as she grows in faith and knowledge, and she teaches us what it truly means to be a sincere Jew.

Samuel the Prophet
Tuesdays, Trimester 3 I Ms. Gabi Gelman
7:00 PM–8:00 PM I Evelyn Rubenstein JCC
Delve into this exciting and dramatic story which includes the rise of Samuel the prophet, the appointment of Saul as the first King of Israel and the escalating conflict between King Saul and David, all highlighting Israel's transition to a central authority.

MELTON! The Star and the Crescent: The Long Relationship of Judaism and Islam
Tuesdays, Trimester 3 I Rabbi Steve Morgen | 7:00 PM–8:30 PM I Evelyn Rubenstein JCC
Thursdays, Trimester 1 I Rabbi Steve Gross | 10:45 AM–12:15 PM I Merfish Teen Center
Jews and Muslims have co-existed, at times peacefully, at times contentiously, for more than a millennium. What do they share in common? What are the sources of tension and conflict between Judaism and Islam? This course is open to both Jewish and Muslim participants.

Sustainable Eating: What Your Jewish Mother Never Told You
Tuesdays, Trimester 1 I Ms. Nancy Pryzant Picus | 10:15 AM–11:15 AM | Evelyn Rubenstein JCC
This course will explore food-related issues through the lens of Jewish values and Jewish texts. Topics will include kashrut, food justice, vegetarianism and veganism, sustainability, birkot hanehanim (blessings for food), and more.

Through a Jewish Lens: Jewish Photojournalists of the 20th Century
Tuesdays, Trimester 1 I Mr. Michael Duke
8:15 PM–9:15 PM I Evelyn Rubenstein JCC
It’s no coincidence that in the panoply of eminent photojournalists and social documentary photographers of the 20th century, many of the standouts were Jewish. Learn about the work of these greats and consider how each one used his or her talents to call public attention to issues of social justice and tikkun olam.

Thursdays, Trimester 3 I Dr. Mina Graur
9:30 AM–10:30 AM I Merfish Teen Center
The term "Yiddishkeit" refers to a rich and diverse cultural, linguistic, religious and literary world. In this course we will explore Yiddish literature, music, theater and cuisine, as well as the influence of Yiddish on English vocabulary. Basic Yiddish words, idioms and proverbs will be presented and explained throughout all lectures.