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‘Conference of Learners’ focuses on ‘living, breathing’ Jewish texts

Israelis and residents of 14 states came to Chicago for the inaugural four-day program sponsored by the Melton School of Adult Learning.

Rabbi David Goldstein at the inaugural four-day “Conference of Learners,” sponsored by the Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning, in Chicago, May 2023. Credit: Courtesy.
Rabbi David Goldstein at the inaugural four-day “Conference of Learners,” sponsored by the Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning, in Chicago, May 2023. Credit: Courtesy.

Participants from Israel and 14 U.S. states came to Chicago last week for the inaugural “Conference of Learners” sponsored by the Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning, which bills itself as the “largest pluralistic adult Jewish education network in the world.”

The aim of the four-day event was to “shine a light on the importance of adult education and to develop stronger connections to the Jewish community and tradition,” according to an announcement. Session topics ranged from Jewish architecture to the “TikTok Talmudist” to using technology to “democratize” Jewish learning.

The conference, which also featured an architecture boat cruise down the Chicago River and a session with filmmaker Nancy Spielberg, “was an experience for members of our global community of learners to come together as a movement,” Rabbi Rachel Bovitz, Melton’s executive director, told JNS.

“Everyone who joined our conference will return to their local community re-engaged and inspired to prioritize adult Jewish education in important communal conversations,” she added. “Our conference focused on how Jewish texts, regardless of the year of their initial publishing, remain living, breathing and through our own interpretation, relevant to our daily lives.”

The Melton School, which has operated for nearly 40 years, reaches 50,000 learners worldwide in 200 communities, per a release.

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