This month, we are excited to spotlight one of our newest Melton partners Temple Beth Shalom in New Albany, Ohio. TBS is a "joyful, personal, and accessible" Reform congregation, committed to offering opportunities for its members to "explore and express Judaism". For us, at Melton, our Ohio connections are particularly meaningful because Florence Melton z"l spent most of her adult life as part of the Columbus community.
Read more about Temple Beth Shalom in our interview with its Melton Director, Lesley Thompson:
When did Melton begin at Temple Beth Shalom and how has it grown since it started?
Most recently, the temple wanted to restart its adult education program. So, we rediscovered Melton and rolled out the first program in October. We worked really hard on our recruiting throughout the High Holy Days and were excited when we were able to fill a class. One thing is for sure, there is no one who did not know that we were offering Melton at our temple. In addition to the High Holy Days, there was a big article in the Columbus Jewish News about it, as well as posts in various Facebook and Jewish Facebook groups.
Please describe the role that Melton plays in your congregation? What about outside your congregation?
In the aftermath of Covid, Melton helped us fill the void that people were missing when they were not able to be here in person. But interestingly, throughout the pandemic, our congregants connected more with the temple through their participation online. They were able to find more Jewishness in their lives, so when we started Melton, it was a natural next step for them to take.
We opened our program up to the outside community and we had one or two participants who were not congregants. We'll see what happens for the spring session, but it is good exposure for the temple regardless.
How do you feel Temple Beth Shalom lives the mission of Melton?
I think we live the mission of Melton by conveying the message to the community that there is more to Jewish learning than coming to services. Our rabbi also commented that he loved how engaged the congregants were and that he felt people could let their guards down and open up more. I think that's an important part of the Melton experience.
What is the impact of Melton learning on your congregation as a whole and on the lives of the congregants?
We had great feedback from participants who completed our survey. They were able to say what a positive experience they had, and more importantly, they spread positive word of mouth, which will (and has) lead to more people registering.
What is something that surprised you most about offering Melton to your community?
I was most surprised that there were so many people interested in it. I expected it to take a while to get off the ground, but our numbers were so great, which was very encouraging and exciting!
If you were to envision TBS's Melton School 3-5 years from now, what would it look like? What are your aspirations for Melton?
For me personally, it would be to build on the momentum we have now to offer sessions all year-round. I would also like to find other leaders to teach classes, beyond our two rabbis, to have a variety of perspectives and teaching styles represented.
Describe Temple Beth Shalom's Melton in three words.
Engaging, Unique, Informative
Is there anything else you would like to add about Temple Beth Shalom's Melton School?
TBS partnered with Melton to empower adult learning. There are no tests, no homework and no grades. Rather, the well-designed curriculum empowers adult learners in a thought-provoking and inspiring course of study. Even the most learned members of the Jewish community can learn from this uniquely written curriculum. The potential impacts of this program are many, including, expanding involvement and interest in Jewish learning, connecting ethics in everyday life, encountering God and spirituality, transmitting meaning to others, and increasing connections to the greater Jewish community.
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