The great champion of Jewish education, Florence Z. Melton, passed away last week at the age of 95.
She was best known for her work with adult education through the Florence Melton Adult Mini-School, a pioneering program that has impacted on close to 30,000 adults. Based around an intense two-year curriculum and taught by outstanding educators, the Melton Mini-Schools paved the way for other serious adult learning programs (such as Me'ah). The Melton Mini-Schools comprise the largest pluralistic adult Jewish education network in the world, with over 60 sites located throughout the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia. More recently, they adapted the curriculum for the "Parent Education Program," whose goal is to show how concepts learned in class are relevant and applicable to the students' lives as Jewish parents.
Alongside her work in adult education, she also was, in the words of Rabbi Steven M. Brown (Dean of the Davidson School of Jewish Education), "a fierce advocate for the synagogue school. She saw it as one of the most important vehicles for Jewish education even in the face of a growing day school movement."
Ms. Melton was not only an entrepreneur, an inventor, and a philanthropist, but also a yoga teacher. In 1994, at the age of 82, she became Bat Mitzvah at Congregation Tifereth Israel in Columbus, Ohio. That same year, she wrote:
I’ve reached the age of eighty-two
And still look for a great tomorrow
But – don’t forget the here and now
For tomorrow is only borrowed.
May her memory be a blessing, and an inspiration, for us all.