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March 1, 2012 By:
Adult Ed Gets Revived in New Home
A little over a year after Gratz College stopped running a Florence Melton Adult Mini-School amid declining enrollment, the internationally acclaimed program is slated to return under the direction of Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy.
The Melton program uses curricula developed by professors at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem to provide a pluralistic, text-based approach to adult Jewish education. Since the first pilot sites opened in 1986, there is now a network of 62 mini-schools in the United States, Canada, England and Australia.
In Philadelphia, 566 students completed the core two-year curriculum over the dozen years that Gratz ran the program at its Elkins Park campus and other sites around the region. But the number of first-year students declined dramatically from an average of more than 50 to 15, prompting college officials to close it down in December 2010.
Despite those figures, Andrea Rock, a longtime English and Tanach teacher at Barrack who will direct the program, said she believed there would be enough demand to revive it at the Bryn Mawr facility.
In addition to marketing the program citywide as Gratz did, Rock said she'll be targeting the Main Line where her school has a strong presence, as well as Barrack parents and grandparents and Melton alumni. The university-level, sustained learning will be well-suited to the needs of many professionals living in the area, she said.
They'll start small and grow slowly, Rock continued, beginning in mid-March with just one graduate-level course: "Jewish Denominations: Addressing the Challenges of Modernity" taught by Emilie Passow.
Registration is now open for the $250 course, to be offered Tuesday nights or Wednesday mornings to the end of May.
In the fall, Rock said, she plans to hold the full core curriculum at $400 per year, as well as additional courses.
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