At Central Synagogue

What is Melton?

Named for Florence Melton, its founder, Melton is an internationally renowned, formal program for adult Jewish study. It offers a well-rounded and sophisticated approach, and provides a comprehensive exploration of Jewish thought, practice, ethics and history utilizing a cross-denominational curriculum. It is designed for all levels of Jewish knowledge and practice – there is no Hebrew knowledge required, nor are there tests, grades or homework. In its 30 plus years, the Melton program has graduated more than 30,000 students from its classes in “mini schools” all over the world. Hailed as “the best of the best adult Jewish education,” Central Synagogue created its Melton Mini School in 2012 and has graduated more than 125 of our own Central students. Detailed descriptions of the classes we offer can be found below.

Who can attend Melton?

Melton is open to anyone in the Jewish community (members or non-members of Central) who wants to study on a regular basis and acquire a comprehensive foundation of Jewish literacy. It is appropriate for all levels of students (no Hebrew knowledge is required) and there are no prerequisites for Year 1. For members of Central Synagogue, the classes may also be applied toward becoming an Adult B’nei Mitzvah. The next Adult B’nei Mitzvah program will begin in 2017.

Who teaches Melton?

Our faculty consists of Central Synagogue clergy and other specially trained, New York- based clergy and educators.

How often does Melton meet?

The core curriculum is taught once a week for two hours, thirty weeks a year, for two years. New students entering the program will have a choice of studying on either Tuesday mornings or Tuesdays evenings. Year 1 students will be taking Rhythms of Jewish Living and Purposes of Jewish Living. Year 2 students will be taking Crossroads of Jewish History and Ethics of Jewish Living. Class descriptions can be found below.

What if I can’t commit to two years?

Fair enough. Come for one year. We think you’ll be hooked.

What happens at the end of the two years?

Students will “graduate” Melton and be honored at a special Graduation Ceremony where they will receive certificates. For those Central members who were working toward becoming an Adult B’nei Mitzvah, they will be called to the Torah in unique ceremony and recognized in the community.

Can I keep studying after I graduate?

Of course! Central Synagogue offers Melton Scholars Courses. These ten-week courses are only open to those who have completed the first two years of Melton (either at Central or another Melton site). The fall Scholars Courses will run from September-December, 2016 and the spring sessions will run from February-April, 2017. See below for more detailed information about our Scholars classes.

Are there any other perks?

Yes! Not only will Melton provide you with an outstanding Jewish education, participating in it is also a wonderful way to meet new people and become part of your own small community. We find that our Melton students develop long-lasting friendships amongst themselves and strong bonds with their instructors. We also host a large, festive Shabbat dinner for Melton students and their families and offer a Melton-only trip to Israel. Stay tuned for more details about the trip.

What exactly am I going to learn at Melton?

Year One (open to anyone)

  1. The Purposes of Jewish Living: Why do Jews believe as they do? What are the big questions of life and how do Jewish thinkers answer these questions? This course explores both ancient and modern responses to many of the major issues of Jewish thought and theology.
  2. The Rhythms of Jewish Living: What’s the point of living Jewishly? What ideas, beliefs, and practices are involved? This course examines a wide variety of Jewish sources to discover the deeper meanings underlying Jewish holidays, life-cycle observances, and Jewish practice.

Year Two

Open only to those students who have completed Year 1 at Central or another Melton site.

  1. Crossroads of Jewish History: How do the turning points in Jewish history influence our lives today? This course seeks to reclaim the richness of Jewish history and explore the role that Jews played, not just as passive victims, but also as active shapers of our shared identity and destiny.
  2. The Ethics of Jewish Living: How do Jewish teachings shed light on contemporary issues such as the environment, inter-personal relationships, end-of life decisions, and stem-cell research? This course explores the wisdom of ancient and modern rabbis, scholars and thinkers, offering multiple Jewish approaches to conducting our lives in the communal and private spheres.

Scholars Courses

Students may enroll in any or all of these courses, as they will run on distinct dates and times. Please note that the prerequisites differ from course to course.

Shemot I

(to be followed by Shemot II in the spring of 2017)
This course brings us the Egyptian narrative of our people from “Pharaoh’s Paranoia” and “Moshe’s CV,” to the dramatic story of our rescue and survival in the wilderness during “Into the Sea” and “Manna from Heaven.” Leadership, bravery, faith, and doubt define some of the critical moments in these texts and offer us a rich backdrop for challenging our own assumptions. This class is open only to those who have completed Melton Years 1 & 2 at Central Synagogue or another Melton site.

From Sinai to Seinfeld – The History of Jewish Humor

A treasure of irresistible jokes from the Israelite relationship with God to the growing divide between cultural and religious Judaism in the early 21st century. Treating Jewish jokes as text, the course invites students to analyze and interpret the evolving concerns, styles, rhythms, preoccupations, and values of the Jewish people that lie buried deep in words that make us laugh as Jews, and that bond us as a people. This class is open to everyone – there are no prerequisites.

Bereshit I – From Adam to Abraham: The First 20 Generations
This class is full.

These stories take us from the universal tales of the creation of the world, the flood and the Tower of Babel to the foundational tales of Abraham & Sarah and the beginnings of the Jewish people. The themes of family and faith, honor and dishonor, and passion and power provide us a rich explanation of our people and ourselves.

When do the classes meet?

For the Year 1 classes, students must enroll in either the morning or the evening option and may not alternate between classes.

Year 1

Tuesday mornings, September 13, 2016-May 23, 2017
9:30-10:30am: Rhythms of Jewish Living taught by Rabbi David Kalb
10:30-10:45am: Break for snacks and socializing
10:45-11:45am: Purposes of Jewish Living taught by Rabbi Ari Lorge

Year 2

Prerequisite: completion of Year 1 of Melton, at Central or another Melton site.
Tuesday mornings, September 13, 2016-May 23, 2017
9:30-10:30am: Crossroads of Jewish History taught by Rabbi Nicole Auerbach
10:30-10:45am: Break for snacks and socializing
10:45-11:45am: Ethics of Jewish Living taught by Rabbi David Kalb

Fall 2016 Scholars Courses – each runs 10 weeks

Shemot I

(to be followed by Shemot II in the spring of 2017)
Mondays, 10:45am-12:15pm, September 12-December 10, 2016
This class will run concurrently in two sections, one taught by Rabbi David Kalb, the other by Joe Septimus.

From Sinai to Seinfeld

Wednesdays, 6:30-8:00pm, September 14-November 30, 2016
Taught by Rabbi David Kalb.

Bereshit I – This class is full.

Thursdays, 5:30-7:00pm, September 15-December 1, 2016
Taught by Rabbi Peter Rubinstein

What does it cost?


Year 1: $600
Year 2: $600
Scholars Courses: $300 (for each 10-week course)


Year 1: $750
Year 2: $750
Scholars Courses: $350 (for each 10-week course)


How does registration work?

For all Melton courses, payment is due in full by credit card at the time of registration. Registration is accepted on a first-come, first served basis and members receive priority registration. Classes run contingent upon a minimum registration of 15 students per class. Our withdrawal policies are as follows…

Years 1 & 2:
Withdrawal prior to August 22, 2016 – Full refund
Withdrawal between August 22, 2016 and September 28, 2016 – Full refund less $85
Withdrawal after September 28, 2016 – No refund

Scholars classes:
Withdrawal prior to August 22, 2016 – Full refund
Withdrawal between August 22, 2016 and September 22, 2016 – Full refund less $75
Withdrawal after September 22, 2016 – No refund

How do I register?

Register for Year 1
Register for Year 2
Register for the Fall Scholar’s Course

General registration will be open by April 2016. Contact Sam Sterling if you have any questions.

Our People

Samantha Sterling

Samantha Sterling

Manager of Adult Education & Melton Director