This year has been full of highs and lows, as the challenges and tragedies of the pandemic have been mixed with beautiful growth in Jewish learning. Louisville Melton has had its most diverse age range of learners this year – from college students to individuals in their 80s. We also have many Jews by choice, who heard about us when they started conversion classes with Rabbi Bob Slosberg of Adath Jeshurun. Others are more available to join online classes, so Melton's growth in this area has been very positive.
It's heartwarming to see the growth – and it made graduation incredibly moving this year as each learner shared how much Melton means to them.
One learner, Yahlamed Israel, an African American recent Jew-by-choice who has been studying Judaism for the last 15 years, shared that she was skeptical about Melton since she had taken many classes with other organizations before, but her doubts soon vanished: "Melton stands alone, when it comes to the experience, as a whole. I was very happy, not to just be in class…but to be in class with some who would become family."
Many graduates echoed that point – their fellow learners became their friends. Susan Keller thanked everyone for "Your patience, sharing your opinions, asking great questions and giving good interpretations of the material we studied."
For Meltonian Bethe Bryant, also a recent Jew-by choice, Zooming into classes during COVID was a lifesaver: "Melton has opened up a world of learning experiences with instructors and classmates coming together from all over the globe. Since the pandemic, I have taken 36 Melton classes of varying lengths, all spectacular! Melton is a life-long learning opportunity and one I plan on continuing."
Some of those classes are through Melton International and some are through us. The new series, Living Wisdom, has been attracting a lot of new learners. The series offers Melton excellence in a very accessible format -- we had three full classes of "Members of the Tribe" for example! For 100% of our learners, Louisville Melton is their first formal education since Sunday school when they were younger – or their first exposure to Judaism at all.
I'm so glad our learners are finding people to connect to – not only myself but all our teachers. Each one is a truly special human being. We recently welcomed two members of our staff who are Catholic, because we want to support diversity not just in our group of learners, but in their teachers as well. These two individuals – Dr. Walter Olson Jr. and Dr. Melanie-Prejean Sullivan – add so much perspective to certain courses. Walter is a neurologist and medical school professor, assisted with the Jewish Medical Ethics course, and taught our Cairo Genizah class. Melanie was Director of Campus Ministry at Bellarmine University and is currently a research associate and teacher at the Margaret Beaufort Institute of Theology in Cambridge, England. She teaches comparative Jewish and Christian sacred texts for Louisville Melton.
It's one of the privileges and honors of my life to direct the Louisville Melton site. I hope we continue to go from strength to strength for many years to come.
To sign up for classes with Louisville Melton, please visit: www.adathjeshurun.com/melton.