Holocaust memoirs basis of new Melton course

March 15, 2016 by Jillian Fine
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The Holocaust as Reflected in Memoirs and Diaries, a poignant 10-week Melton course built around memoirs and diaries found after the Shoah, launches at the Sydney Jewish Museum on Monday 21 March.

Maria Bonardelli

Maria Bonardelli

This course is an opportunity for previous Melton students to come back to their Melton learning as well as for anyone who wants to increase their knowledge and understanding of the Holocaust.  The 5.30pm -7pm time slot is an ideal opportunity to come to the museum directly after work.

Facilitated by dynamic Museum Educator Marie Bonardelli, the course will take participants on a journey into the world of Jewish individuals and communities as the events of the Shoah unfold around them. The exploration of first-person accounts is an opportunity for participants to gain deep insights into the lives of Jews in occupied Europe. The immediacy of the testimonies written by Jews in hiding, on the run, in ghettoes and death camps will enable participants to make meaning of both individual and collective experiences. After teaching the course last year, Museum Educator Marie Bonardelli reflected, ‘This course provides amazing insight into the personal and moral dimensions of the Holocaust.  Through the words of the diarists and memoirists we come to understand not only the unfolding events of the Shoah but also how these writers bore witness through their poetry, diaries, and letters.’

Bonardelli will teach the newest Melton course From Sinai to Seinfeld: The History of Jewish Humour at the museum in the second half of the year. She has the distinction of being the only non-Jewish Melton teacher internationally and her great sense of humour makes her an ideal teacher for this course. Growing up in a Jewish neighbourhood in Montreal, surrounded by Yiddish speakers, she not only gets Jewish humour but is able to quip as well as any Jewish comedian.

A wide range of Melton courses, appealing to a range of interests, are being taught as far afield as Allawah in the south to Cremorne.

At Cremorne Synagogue, Dr Shahar Burla is teaching Israeli Literature as a Window into Society. The course offers a glimpse into the Israeli psyche since the War of Independence and traces the major impacts of Israel’s conflicts and challenges on its people. After the first engaging session, participant and shul board member, Micheline Lane commented that, ‘Shahar, by challenging us to question the chosen extracts, and the diversity in the students’ backgrounds, should help to build a better understanding of present day Israel’. Through the lens of poetry, prose, short stories and Meir Shalev’s novel ‘The Blue Mountain’, participants are encountering an Israeli society that is diverse, self-critical, honest and proud.

Long-term Melton facilitator Dr Michael Abrahams-Sprod, is the newly appointed Roth Foundation Lecturer in Israel, Civilisation and Holocaust Studies in the Department of Hebrew, Biblical and Jewish Studies at the University of Sydney. Abrahams- Sprod is teaching Crossroads of Jewish History at Southern Sydney Synagogue in Allawah. This vibrant and active little-known community is holding its second Melton course. The synagogue’s new spiritual leader, Tzuriel Avila, brings a new dynamism to the congregation and is an active member of the Crossroads class.  The synagogue is a meeting point and hub for people all around the south, from as far afield as Gymea, Cronulla and Sylvania Waters. The synagogue has a regular minyan at Shabbat services, an active seniors group, cheder and social committee. Shabbat dinners, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, mystery tours, picnics at Bundeena, games and movie nights are part of the synagogue’s calendar.

Thanks to Madonna and other celebrities, Kabbalah is one of the best know facets of Judaism, yet one of the least understood. Dr Rabbi Orna Triguboff, who is teaching the popular Kabbalah and Mysticism at Emanuel Synagogue, will dispel some of the myths. The course exposes participants to the ways that the particular lens of the mystical and esoteric has been used throughout Jewish history to discover the relevant and deeper meaning of Judaism and human existence. Triguboff  will explore the ideas of the kabbalists, the milieu in which they wrote and taught and the techniques they used to achieve states of expanded consciousness. Topics include the circles of Jewish spiritual seekers of the 13th Century in Spain, the Golden Age of Kabbalah in the hilltop city of Tsfat in the 16th Century and the kabbalistic influence on the Hasidic movement.

Information: http://cce.sydney.edu.au/course/HRMD

jillian.fine@sydney.edu.au  0410 497 870


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