Jewish Life

Center for Jewish Life

Silver MezuzahCenter for Jewish Life at JCC MetroWest

The Center for Jewish Life provides educational opportunities for people interested in exploring Jewish sources and learning about ways to enhance their spiritual, intellectual & communal Jewish lives.

Adults of all ages and backgrounds come together to explore Judaism’s rich heritage.

For more information, contact Rhonda Lillianthal

The Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning

Find out about the Melton classes in the MetroWest Community, click here.

For more information about the Florence Melton Mini School, click here.


Jewish Learning

Find out about the Jewish Learning opportunities at JCC MetroWest, click here.

Jewish Learning

The Center for Jewish Learning

We offer numerous classes in many areas of Jewish studies including: Bible, Jewish History, Philosophy & Theology, Hebrew & Yiddish, as well as lectures on fascinating and enlightening topics.

If you are ...

  • Just beginning your exploration of Judaism
  • Looking to fill in gaps in your Jewish education
  • Seeking to enrich your knowledge of the Bible & other Jewish texts, Jewish literature and/or Music
  • Ready to Learn

... then this is the place for you!


Ages 18+

March 6–May 15
Thursdays 8:10–9:10pm
Member/Guest: $150

March 4–May 20
Tuesdays 12:30–1:30pm
Member/Guest: $150

March 6–May 15
Thursdays 7:00–8:00pm
Member/Guest: $150

February 12–May 7
Wednesdays 10:25–11:25pm
Member/Guest: $150

February 12–May 7
Wednesdays 9:20–10:20pm
Member/Guest: $150

February 5–May 14
Wednesdays 6:00–7:15pm
Member/Guest: $240

February 5–May 14
Wednesdays 7:15–8:30pm
Member/Guest: $240

January 28–April 29
Tuesdays 6:30–7:45pm
Member/Guest: $240

October 17, 2013–June 19, 2014
Thursdays 12:30–2:00pm
Member/Guest: $162 (or $25 per class)

For complete program descriptions, please view our Winter-Spring Program Guide.

 Click here to download the Registration Form.

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The Florence Melton School

The Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning

Do Jews believe in an afterlife?

Does the creation story in the Bible conflict with Darwinism?

Do the biblical texts written thousands of years ago relate to my life today?

Do Jews believe in fate?

If the answers to these questions intrigue you, or if you have other questions about Judaism, consider attending JCC MetroWest’s Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning.

The Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning is a two-year adult learning experience taught by experienced adult educators with classes meeting once a week for 30 weeks during the school year.

About the Melton School of
Adult Jewish Learning

The Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning is an innovative adult Jewish learning program that provides the opportunity to achieve basic Jewish literacy in just two years. Students of varying backgrounds form a community of learners who explore Jewish texts and begin to understand how Judaism developed and what Judaism means to them. The pluralistic approach fosters an atmosphere of warmth, respect, and mutual understanding.

For Melton Class tuition and locations, please click herto view  a copy of the 2013-2014 Melton Brochure in PDF file format. 


What Makes the School Unique?

• Commitment to Learning: Students enroll in  a sequential two-year course developed specifically for adult learners. The school infuses students with a desire to make Jewish learning a way of life which often continues beyond the first two years into graduate courses.

• Sophisticated Curriculum: Four text-based courses make up the sequential two-year curriculum written by a team of experts at the Hebrew University's Melton Centre for Jewish Education.

• Quality Teaching and Learning: To preserve the high standards which are the hallmark of the school, all faculty members must participate in ongoing professional enrichment programs.


For more information about the Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning, please click here

Or contact Rhonda Lillianthal at 973-530-3519

The Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning Presents:

A special curriculum designed for parents of young children.

Foundations of Jewish Family Living is a new curriculum for parents that provides a thought-provoking encounter with the core values of Judaism. The curriculum brings to life the master stories from our tradition and the profound messages they convey.   This rich learning experience for adults will provide an opportunity for you to bring the Jewish conversation home to share with your young child. At a time in your family's life when you child is beginning his or her own Jewish education, Foundations of Jewish Family Living provides you with the learning, the language, and the confidence to be a teacher to your own children.

This 10-session course will be held at the following locations: 

Congregation Adath Shalom, Morris Plains

Congregation Agudath Israel, West Caldwell

Temple B'nai Abraham, Livingston

Temple B'nai Jeshurun, Short Hills

Golda Och Academy, Wilf Lower School, West Orange



For more information contact Rhonda Lillianthal at 973-530-3519 rlillianthal@jccmetrowest

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Health & Healing Center

Begin your Journey - Spirituality, Health, Education

MetroWest Health & Healing LogoThe mission of the Metro West Jewish Health and Healing Center is to provide the MetroWest community with resources and programs, designed from a Jewish perspective, to enhance physical, emotional, and spiritual well being and to offer spiritual healing for those experiencing life challenges.

For more information, contact Rhonda Lillianthal, CJ, 973-530-3519

Pastoral Counseling

Rabbis who are pastoral counsels are trained to counsel individuals who have questions about spiritual issues, Judaism and God. If you do not presently have a Rabbi to turn to with your spiritual questions we are happy to provide you with the names of Rabbis in your area to reach out to.













Spiritual Support Groups

The MetroWest Health & Healing Center in cooperation with Jewish Family Services offers Spiritual Support Groups for bereavement, cancer survivors, Jewish adoptive parents and Jewish family issues.





For more information, contact Rhonda Lillianthal, CJ, 973-530-3519,


Tuv Ha'aretz

Overflowing food basketTuv Ha'aretz is back! Join the JCC's CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) Program

Accepting Members NOW!

Tuv Ha'Aretz: Good for/From the Land

Enjoy weekly deliveries of healthy, local and mostly organic produce at competitive prices while supporting local farmers and eating healthfully!

Join us as we build our community and expand our knowledge of what it means for food to be kosher - not only "fit" for us, but "fit" for the land as well. 

Food will be delivered to the JCC once a week for a total of 12 weeks,
from July 10 through September 23.

Vegetable & Fruit Share: $365 * Early Bird Special! $350 prior to May 23
Eggs - $4.50/week
* Cheese - $5.00/week

Click on the link below for the Tuv Ha'Aretz 2014 Membership Form!

What is Tuv Ha'Aretz?

Program Features:

  • Members buy shares in the harvest of a local farm
  • Weekly deliveries of healthy produce at competitive prices
  • Support local farmers and build community
  • Expand understanding of food “fit” for us and “fit” for the earth

Why Should I Join?

Tuv Ha'Aretz...

  • Is a convenient, delicious, and fun experience
  • Puts purchasing power behind local farmers
  • Educates the community about sustainable agriculture
  • Inspires deeper, broader thinking about food choices
  • Includes cooking demos, farm trips, and a weekly newsletter with food/cooking tips


Click here to join!


In addition to local, organic produce, Tuv Ha'aretz offers members access to educational and social events.

If you would like to get involved in planning an event, teaching/speaking, writing for the newsletter, joining the core group, or to register for Tuv Ha'aretz, contact Daena Silverman at 973-530-3536 (




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Kol Dodi

Kol Dodi: The MetroWest Community Chorale

Kol Dodi MetroWest logoIf you love to harmonize with other people, come and join Kol Dodi, the MetroWest Community Chorale!

Kol Dodi's mission is to sing and perform high quality Jewish choral music. We are proudly entering our 18th year, serving as music ambassadors to the community at large. Weekly rehearsals are held at JCC MetroWest on Thursdays from 7:50pm to 9:45pm.

About Kol Dodi

Kol Dodi is an ensemble of approximately 50 voices that performs a full spectrum of the music of many and varied Jewish traditions. Formed in 1991, it is led by Cantors Erica Lippitz and Joel Caplan, both prominent leaders in the MetroWest Jewish community.

Cantor Lippitz, one of the first women to be invested as Cantor by the Jewish Theological Seminary, has been with Oheb Shalom Congregation in South Orange, NJ since 1987. She has performed and taught Jewish music nationally, and recorded several CD's as part of the singing group Beged Kefet.

Cantor Caplan has been with Congregation Agudath Israel in Caldwell, NJ since 1982. He also leads the HaZamir Teen Choir of North Jersey, part of the widely acclaimed HaZamir International Jewish High School Choir. He has conducted the NJ Cantors Concert Ensemble and has taught at the Jewish Theological Seminary's cantorial school since 1994.

To learn more, visit:

“Kol Dodi gives us a chance to explore different aspects of Jewish music,” said Cantor Caplan. “The spectrum is very broad. We sing in English, Hebrew and Yiddish, although no prior knowledge of Hebrew or Yiddish is necessary. We might sing a liturgical piece from the seventeenth century, followed by a contemporary Israeli composition.”

Adds Cantor Lippitz, “We perform music composed by colleagues and friends, as well as pieces by well known composers. Last year, for example, we performed Leonard Bernstein’s ‘Chichester Psalms.’ It was an exhilarating challenge.”

For more information, please contact either of Kol Dodi's co-conductors:

Cantor Erica Lippitz
973-762-7067 ext. 20

Cantor Joel Caplan
973-226-3600 ext. 16

J Connection Montclair

and Surrounding Areas

Are you ...

New to the Montclair, Bloomfield, Verona, Cedar Grove, Glen Ridge area?

Expecting a baby?

Newly married?


Do you ...

Have young children?

Want to meet other young Jewish couples/families?

Want to be involved in Jewish activities?

Want to know what the Jeweish community in your area has to offer?

Have any ideas of activities that you would like to see for young Jewish famlies in your area?

If So ... I Can Help!

I have recently begun a pilot program in the Montclair area to help connect young Jewish couples/famlies to each other and to the Jewish community in which you live. I would love to hear from you!

Emmy Atlas

Jewish Family Concierge


The Jewish Family Concierge is a collaboration between JCC MetroWest, Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ and The Partnership.

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Why do We Celebrate?

Rosh Hashannah 

Rosh Hashannah marks the beginning of the Jewish year. It is a time when we reflect on the year past and look forward on the year to come. Rosh Hashannah is the celebration of God's creation of the world. We celebrate the creation of the world by hearing the shofar blown in holiday services and reaffirming our connection to God through prayer. On Rosh Hashanah we say, "May you be inscribed in the book of life." We pray for health, prosperity and peace for the coming year.


After the solemnity of the high holidays, Sukkot is a time of great rejoicing. Sukkot is one of the three pilgrimage festivals, when Jews traveled to the Temple in Jerusalem to offer sacrifices. It is also a time to celebrate the harvest which was gathered at this time of year in ancient Israel. In honor of the workers who used to live in the fields as they were bringing in the harvest we build a temporary shack, a sukkah, which we decorate with vines fruits and vegetables. During the seven days of sukkot it is customary to eat and sleep under the stars in your sukkah.

Simchat Torah

Simchat Torah literally means, the celebration of the Torah. The five books of the Torah are read on a yearly cycle. On Simchat Torah we complete the yearly cycle and celebrate our accomplishment. On this night the Torah's are taken out of the ark in the synagogue and danced around the sanctuary. Everyone from adults to children take part in the festivities.

Tu B'shvat

Although it is still winter in America, in Israel by the time it is Tu B'shvat, most of the winter rains have ended and the first buds are appearing on the almond trees. Tu B'shvat celebrates our relationship to nature and the environment, highlighting trees in particular. The most popular customs are to eat fresh fruits, dried fruits, or nuts associated with the land of Israel and to sponsor the planting of a new tree in the land of Israel through donations to the Jewish National Fund. Here in New Jersey, we can find our own spiritual connection by planting seeds indoors to transfer outdoors when our winter weather finishes. Watching seedlings sprout and nurturing them through these final weeks of winter can fill us with hope and pleasant anticipation at the prospect of spring and the new growth which awaits us.


Passover recalls our liberation from slavery in Egypt and the beginnings of our life as a free people. We tell the story of this exodus by gathering together for a ritualized meal called the Seder. Gathered around the table with family and friends, we read aloud the story as it is retold in the Passover Haggadah, and with the help of special foods, rituals, prayers and psalms, we try to internalize the feelings of being enslaved and then of being freed. We clean our homes to remove all traces of leavening, or Chametz, as a way of preparing for the holiday. And for eight days we eat only unleavened bread, Matzah, for that is what our ancestors ate as they hurriedly left Egypt. The goal of all of these observances is to awaken our sense of compassion for those whose lives are not yet free and to move us in our own generation to work to fight oppression in all its forms.

Yom Kippur

The ten days between Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur are known as the Yamim Norayim, the Days of Awe. This is a time of great introspection. We are to look at our selves and our actions. We must ask forgiveness from those people we may have hurt over the past year. On Yom Kippur itself we fast in order to atone for our transgressions and we pray for forgiveness from God. "On Rosh Hashannah it is written, and on Yom Kippur it is sealed." On Rosh Hashannh God writes our names in the book of life and on Yom Kippur that book is completed.

Shemini Atzeret

When people are celebrating it is hard to end the celebration, for this reason shemini atzeret, literally meanings "the eighth day which concludes the festival" was added on to the conclusion of Sukkot. Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah celebrated on the same day in Israel, but on two different days in the diaspora are the conclusion of the high holiday season.


This holiday celebrates Judah Maccabee's successful revolt against the Syrians, a victory of religious freedom won by Jews more than 2,000 years ago. It is the victory of pluralism over tyranny that is waged in countries all over the world in every age. A legend from the Talmud teaches that when the Jews were ready to rededicate the Temple in Jerusalem and light the eternal flames of the Menorah, one day's supply of oil miraculously lasted for eight days. In commemoration of that miracle, we light a Hannukah menorah for eight nights, eat foods cooked in oil, and appreciate the small miracles that have sustained the Jewish people throughout our history.


The holiday of Purim is based on the biblical Book of Esther in which Haman, the evil advisor to the King of Persia tries to exterminate the Jewish people. Mordechai, the Jew, learns of his intentions, and pleads with his relative, the Queen to act to save her people from destruction. Queen Esther gathers her courage and reveals her Jewish identity to the king. She informs him of Haman's plot and rescues the Jews. Powerful Haman is defeated. Modest Esther is exalted. And what at first was hidden, in the end is revealed.

Purim is a topsy-turvy holiday of costumes and masks, of feasting and revelry. We gather in the synagogue in the evening and the morning to hear the reading of the Book of Esther, but instead of listening respectfully, we boo and hiss and use noisemakers to drown out the name of the villain. We hold carnivals and costume parties. We also share our good fortune by sending portions of food to friends in the community, a custom called Mishlo'ach Manot, and by donating money to the needy, Matanot L'evyonim. On Purim we celebrate our survival as a people in a light-hearted way and at the same time, reach out to others in friendship and in kindness.


Shavuot marks the beginning of the harvest in ancient Israel. The first fruits were harvested and brought to the Temple as a sacrifice to God. During the Rabbinic period, the holiday attained the significance as the time when God gave the Torah to the Israelites on Mount Sinai. Today Shavuot is celebrated by spending the entire night studying Torah, known as Tikun. It is also customary to only eat dairy during the holiday.

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L'Shana Tova

The summer season seems to have passed in the blink of an eye. The "days of awe" - Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur - the high holy days in Jewish tradition-ask us to consider our deeds and transgressions of the past year.

The spotlight on introspection that these holy days demand is often viewed with great anxiety. It is quite difficult to look at oneself and come face-to-face with our shortcomings. If we're honest with ourselves we know that the genesis of our trepidation is the sadness and sometimes hopelessness we may feel as we are consciously confronted with our previous actions and/or challenged by the tasks of change.

Yet, a slight adjustment in perspective may offer a more optimistic approach. Identifying and meeting our behaviors "head-on" is neither the end nor the goal of "teshuvah" (the act of "repentance" that is the central theme of these holy days). The objective is not to languish in the notion that one is a "bad person" due to previous wrongdoing. Instead, on Yom Kippur, we endeavor to transcend the reality of our daily lives and actions and transport ourselves to a "new place"-spiritually, mentally and psychologically. From this new vantage point we can see ourselves and the world around us with a refreshed and uplifted perspective as to the possibilities that lay ahead . . . and we can chart a different course for the  coming year.

Don't let this opportunity to be strengthened and encouraged pass by!

Please accept our most sincere best wishes for a very healthy, safe, peaceful and sweet New Year.

L'Shana Tovah U'Metuka v'Ketiva v'Chatima Tova!

(The English translation of this Hebrew phrase wishes you a "sweet" New Year and hopes that you are "inscribed" and "sealed" for a good year. The process of the Jewish High Holidays starts with Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, when we ask God to "inscribe" us in the book for a good year and culminates at Yom Kippur [Day of Atonement] when we repent for our misdeeds of the past year and ask that God "seal" us in the book for a good year)


Joyce Goldstein                Lawrence Gotfried                    Alan Feldman
Board Co-Chair                Board Co-Chair                        Chief Executive Officer

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    Adler Aphasia Center
  • Leon & Toby Cooperman JCC

    Ross Family Campus

    760 Northfield Avenue

    West Orange