Melton Executive Director Rabbi Rachel Bovitz and International Director for Education and Innovation Rabbi Morey Schwartz presented the 2019 Florence Melton Award to the Conejo/West Valley Florence Melton School (in Southern California) on the opening day of the 24th Annual International Directors Conference, held Jan. 20-23, 2019, in Deerfield Beach, FL.

Pamela Rooks, the Conejo/West Valley Melton School Director, accepted the prestigious award. The award was established in 2009 to memorialize founder Florence Melton z"l and to provide a cash award to one Melton School that models the best practices and exemplifies the highest standards of the Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning. In addition to the cash prize, the Florence Melton Award also includes an opportunity for a learning event in the community, sponsored by the Gordon Zacks Chair of Learning and Leadership.

Executive Director, Rabbi Rachel Bovitz, praised Rooks and the school’s founder, Rabbi Richard Camras of Shomrei Torah Synagogue for the model and inspiration that the Conejo/West Valley Melton School provides to the entire Melton network worldwide. It was especially meaningful for the Rabbi Bovitz since she began with Melton as the founding director of this site in Los Angeles. 

Rabbi Camras initially experienced Melton while serving earlier in his rabbinic career at Chizuk Amuno Congregation in Baltimore, Maryland and was motivated to bring the same rich pluralistic adult learning to the Los Angeles community in 2007. Under the directorship of Pamela Rooks, the school continues to thrive in its 11th year. Pamela oversees a faculty of ten rabbis and Jewish educators. This year alone, there are eleven Melton classes running in eight locations across the San Fernando and Conejo Valleys.  

The annual International Directors Conference brings directors from around the world to enhance professional development, share best practices, and grow Jewishly. This year’s conference theme was “It All Begins with You: Recharging, Retooling and Reimagining Our Vital Work” and featured workshops and networking designed to support the growth and sustainability of our Melton schools and to encourage directors to see themselves as essential to Melton and the field of adult Jewish learning.   

During the conference, several other awards were presented to deserving directors in Melton’s network of schools.

  • Talya Gorsetman, Director, Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta, received an Award of Excellence for Sustained Growth and Innovation
  • Dr. Judy Karin, Director, Congregation B'nai Brith in Santa Barbara, California, received an Award of Excellence for Community Building
  • Debra Lerman, Director, Lorraine and Jack N. Friedman Commission for Jewish Education, a department of the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County, FL, received an Award of Excellence for her Dedication and Leadership

See more photos from the International Directors Conference on Flickr