Location:Cape Town, South Africa
Name of implementing organization:The Florence Melton Adult Mini-School
The Midrasha Adult Education Institute, incorporating the Florence Melton Adult Mini-School, aims to promote adult Jewish learning which is inclusive, comprehensive, and dynamic. Its caters to those people who identify as Jewish, who have different points of entry and aim to achieve different outcomes, wanting to learn and grow on their Jewish journey.
The Melton Program, the first program of the Midrasha Adult Education Institute, has been welcomed by Cape Town Jewry and already is considered to be a leader in Adult Jewish Education. This year we have moved to Herzlia High School refurbished classrooms, where on Wednesday nights 2 Year Two groups and one Year One group learn simultaneously. A Year One morning group meets in the board room at the Jewish Aged Home. The faculty each teach their lesson twice. Students are led in discussion, while the emphasis is on group participation and learning; students who prepare in advance get more out of the lessons; the course content is sequential and covers 30 weeks each year.
Setting up 4 classes during 2007 has been an important step for Cape Town Jewry, entrenching this inclusive and comprehensive model of adult Jewish learning, the first of its kind on the continent! It has also paved the way for interest in Johannesburg, and moves are afoot to explore the process to bring Melton to Johannesburg.
Due to the success of the Melton Program, the Midrasha Adult Education Institute, which serves as the umbrella incorporating Melton, is now exploring avenues for funding in order to embark on additional programs. Year Two students are about to graduate, and seek continuing learning opportunities. We believe that there is local capacity to set up a range of modules spanning topics and areas of Jewish learning from Biblical to contemporary, and that additional courses could be imported. In addition, there is demand for a child-centered adult Jewish learning curriculum which will empower parents to have more meaningful input to family Jewish learning. This would be done in collaboration with the Herzlia Schools.
We also are investigating the Melton Israel Seminar for Melton graduates for 2008, the first adult Jewish learning Israel Seminar to be offered to the South African Jewish community.
This initiative has opened opportunities for a new model of adult Jewish learning in South Africa. It provides a comprehensive and inclusive model of adult Jewish learning which has attracted almost 100 committed students. The Melton program has attracted couples, mothers and daughters, community leaders, professionals and grassroots support across ages, ranging from 25+ - 80+. The groups are of a high caliber, diverse, eager, committed to learning, and very engaging.
In addition to a strong student profile, the faculty has proven exceptionally capable, and there are particular favorites who have been important draw cards for the program. The faculty are extremely dedicated and spend many hours in preparation for lessons.
Some of the successful outcomes of the program have been reflected in students’ eagerness to ensure a graduate program in 2008; there is a waiting list for the Melton Israel Seminar for 2008; some students have become more committed and are now religious, while others have moved their children from government schools to Herzlia Jewish Day School. Others participated in Limmud SA in August, while some have taken up other opportunities to attend a range of Jewish learning across community structures.
Fundraising remains a challenging task , as the Midrasha Adult Education Institute is a stand alone operation which derives no support from the organized community. Currently it is not possible to provide scholarship support for students who cannot afford full fees.