The Trans-Tasman Hub, a Melton learning region that includes Australia, New Zealand, and Asia, connects the curious across huge distances through the light of Jewish learning.
Rabbi Noam Hayman, Director of the Trans-Tasman Hub, moved to Israel from Sydney, Australia last year. Noam seeks out excellent teachers, educators who understand the art of adult education, to deliver Melton learning throughout the region. One such educator, Tracey Sareff, has a deep love and passion for her Melton teaching.
"Tracey's class had the most enthusiastic cohort imaginable," Rabbi Noam said. "It was such a pleasure to see her learners engaged, asking questions, and connecting with each other. Tracey tries really hard to make sure that everyone is comfortable and feels a sense of belonging."
As a beloved educator for the Trans-Tasman region, Tracey prioritizes inclusivity. Her cohorts include learners of all identities and backgrounds; young and old, Jewish, Christian, secular, and everything in between. The open nature of courses in the Melton School are a big reason for its diverse learning community, according to Tracey.
"To actually have the freedom to delve into other denominations of Judaism, find the value in them, and discover commonalities with other people who share their Jewish faith but might do it differently—it's just so wonderful to see that respect fostered," Tracey said.
Hub-Director Rabbi Noam Hayman and Melton Educator Tracey Sareff bring the hub to life with a commitment to their work. Both hailing from Australia by way of South Africa, both seek ways to elevate the quality of education and sense of comradery across the Trans-Tasman Hub.
The Trans-Tasman community is tight-knit, and each learner has a special story. Rabbi Noam recalled the touching story of a learner from "Members of the Tribe," a course on Jewish identity taught by Rabbi Fred Morgan, of Melbourne this past year.
"This learner was really special," Rabbi Noam said. "Having undergone the conversion process about 30 years prior, the topic of Jewish identity was deeply personal to him. It was wonderful having someone with that background in the class—he brought so much value and perspective to the rest of the learners."
Rabbi Noam and Tracey have noticed one common characteristic shared by many learners in the Trans-Tasman hub: a burning desire to connect to Jewish traditions. In fact, the learners often offer key reminders as to the great value and deeper meanings that can be associated with Jewish living.
"Being able to sit down with the community to discuss differing ideas in Judaism is an incredible privilege," Tracey said. "You can't help but reflect on this newfound authenticity and relevancy in your own personal connection to Judaism, all thanks to the learning materials and the people you're surrounded by."
While the Jewish communities in the region are more sparsely distributed than those of Israel and North America, the learners bring just as much passion and love of learning to the virtual classroom.
At the end of the day, the Trans-Tasman Hub is a fully online community open to learners from any corner of the world. Their classes are ripe for cultural exchange, with learners from continent to continent tuning in for quality, community-based education. With eyes set on growth within Australia and New Zealand, and the strong possibility of new courses for learners in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia next year, the future looks bright for the Trans-Tasman hub.
When asked what his favorite part of being International Online Learning Hub Coordinator for the Trans-Tasman region, Rabbi Noam had a clear, future-focused answer: "The sky's the limit."