Melton School Announces Graduation, Summer and Fall Courses

Melton School Announces Graduation, Summer and Fall Courses

By Cathy Schechter

Four Austin adult students graduated after two years of study in Shalom Austin’s Florence Melton School for Adult Jewish Learning. Brooke Hersh-Thompson, Randy Lisch, Sandi Schwartz Nieman and Steve Schaffer received certificates of achievement and many blessings from their teachers, including Rabbi Alan Freedman, Dana Baruch, Rabbi Daniel Millner and Rabbi Neil Blumofe.  Their studies included courses in Rhythms and Purposes of Jewish Life, Ethics and Crossroads of Jewish History.

Steve Schaffer said the course, “Filled in the gaps of my Jewish learning, and there were many.”

He added that the knowledge he gained deeply contextualized his family’s first trip to Israel, and gave him an added appreciation for the stubborn survival of the Jewish people through the centuries.

Brooke Hersh-Thompson explained that with all she has to do as a busy mother of two young children, “Learning nurtures my soul. It has helped me become a better teacher to my children as they grow.”

As a budding feminist in the late 1970s and early 80s, Sandy Schwartz Nieman gave up on Judaism because as a youth, she felt excluded in services.  However, her Melton learning has offered her a more mature, adult vision of how Judaism can work in her life. She announced her plans to become a bat mitzvah in 2019 and said, “If I had not been born Jewish, I would have chosen it anyway.”  

Recently retired foot and ankle surgeon Randy Lisch said his Melton experience has led him to decide he wants to become a rabbi. He will enter the next cohort of the Jewish Spiritual Leaders Institute in August 2018. In addition to his new direction as a Jewish spiritual leader, Lisch has also found his artistic muse. His graduation gifts to his teachers were beautiful pencil portraits of each. ■

Summer and Fall Melton Courses

Shalom Austin’s Melton Core courses will restart in October 2018, immediately following the High Holy Days. Newcomers are welcome. In addition to the Dell Jewish Community Campus location, Melton Core courses will extend to interested students in northern Travis County, as well as Williamson County -- including Round Rock, Georgetown and Sun City -- as well as Jews living in the Ft. Hood area. For more information, contact Cathy Schechter at cathy.schechter@shalomaustin.org or check out the Shalom Austin website to register.

Summer short courses, Maintaining Balance in the Modern World and You are what You Remember, will be offered in June and August. For the first time, Maintaining Balance will be offered online in August, using a Zoom room to enable those who work during the day or do not want to fight traffic to attend.

Those uncertain about attending classes but want to try one out can try several Tastes of Melton throughout the summer. June Tastes will be held June 3 at the B’nai Abraham synagogue building on the Dell Jewish Community Campus, led by Rabbi Daniel Millner, and June 13 at Congregation Agudas Achim, led by Rabbi Neil Blumofe. Both events will start at 7:30 p.m. and end at 9 p.m., and are free to the public. All are welcome. ■

For more information contact Cathy Schechter at cathy.schechter@shalomaustin.org.

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