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Site Spotlight: Cape Town, South Africa

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Viv Anstey, Melton Cape Town Director, together with Lauren Snitcher (Marketing & Recruitment) have built the site into a respected, beloved resource for the community and beyond, collaborating with key partners Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban, Israel, Canada, and the UK to bring Melton learning to all curious seekers. Currently, learners' ages range from 17-92 and engage in a variety of courses.

Most recently, Cape Town offered the Melton course "Holocaust as Reflected in Diaries & Memoirs" in a national collaboration with the Durban Holocaust and Genocide Centre. Including general learners as well as Holocaust Guides, Board Members of the Centres, and professionals, the course was a profound and transformative experience. Together, online learners marked the end of the course by lighting candles in memory of the six million and read entries honoring the dead from the personal diaries they'd kept throughout the course.

Can you tell us more about the Holocaust course collaboration? What was the feedback like?

See what our learners had to say here!

What are the Top 5 unique aspects of Melton Cape Town?

1.We work with youth movements to bring in new learners. Beyond Borders has been a very popular course for this audience. Right now, we're on lesson 12 of 20, and our class includes high school learners, some currently on programs in Israel, many who stay on for 30-45 minutes after class is over to discuss their experiences and Israel affairs of the day. It's been tremendously eye-opening for our teens and young adults in Cape Town.

2.Together with Melton scholar in residence Zohar Raviv, Vice President of Taglit-Birthright, we encouraged teachers from local Jewish day schools to take Melton courses so they can either deepen their knowledge or, if they are not Jewish or have little Jewish education, understand the context of their workplace environment. The school sponsors them because it's always valuable and powerful. This kind of investment and development for educators is unique.

3.Another unique feature, at least for us in South Africa, is that we recruit teachers from Orthodox, progressive, and secular backgrounds. We recruit teachers based on their skillset, and the art of matching the right faculty to the right material. It's exciting for me to see the amount of talent we have in our own community, while also widening our faculty reach by teaching for Melton international online.

4.I'm proud to have been a part of motivating Melton to develop a social justice curriculum, "Social Justice: The Heart of Judaism in Theory and Practice." We ensured that this course content went global and has included South African text and context, including South Africa's history apartheid. We learn about the struggle heroes of that era and the constitutional issues with seminal texts involved. We hope to partner with a social entrepreneurship organization to immerse students into the responsibilities of advocacy and rights. .

5.We "adopted" a small group of Jewish learners from a nearby retirement village! The group takes classes from Purposes of Jewish Living, History of the Cairo Geniza, and Sinai to Seinfeld to the new Living Wisdom courses. These octogenarians are Melton stalwarts who have adapted to online learning.

What's your favorite part of being a Melton Director?

I love strengthening and building our community through the lens of knowledge. It's a huge achievement that Melton has existed in Cape Town for 16 years now – and continues to attract new learners. I think there's a wonderful ripple effect through individuals, families, and schools.

Do you have any special stories about your learners?

We had a lovely synergy in our previous Beyond Borders cohort – a mother and her teenage son took the course together. She has just been elected chairperson of the South African Zionist Federation & her son won the Bnei Akiva Israel Quiz unit at summer camp, as well as headed the school's Zionism portfolio. They both had a lot to contribute and were able to bond in their quest for knowledge. 

To learn more about Melton Cape Town, please visit www.meltoncapetown.org.

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