Melton prepares to graduate 10th class

by | May 24, 2012 | What’s Happening

Monday, June 4, 7pm

The Florence Melton Adult Mini-School at the Simon Family Jewish Community Center is preparing to graduate its 10th class. This year’s class of 13 has three physicians, creating lively and more complex discussions about issues Melton classes tackle, especially during the second year of study in the Ethics Curriculum.

Marty Snyder, MD; Roberto Luna, MD and Stanley Smith, MD are the three area physicians who are in this year’s graduating class. All three agree that their background as physicians led to in-depth discussion from the scientific viewpoint pertaining to Jewish ethics, organ donation and end of life issues.

Snyder, a Naval surgeon and captain, has traveled the globe during his career. Persuaded to become a student in the Melton Mini-School by his wife Judi (an avid supporter and graduate of the Mini-School), Snyder has no regrets. As a youth, his family affiliated with Judaism’s Conservative movement. Snyder realized he had forgotten some of what he learned as a child, and through Melton classes, reconnected with his religion and became inspired.

“The different ages and levels of religion represented by members of the class allowed us to come to grips with certain ethical questions and other issues that just one person might not have simple answers or solutions to offer,” says Snyder.

“Melton allowed us to look not only at the ancient interpretation of how to handle these issues, but also to get the more contemporary opinions of rabbis currently writing about them,” he says.

Especially in the second year, when the group became like “family,” issues often centered around ethics and Jewish history. “Having three doctors in the class definitely made for interesting discussions,” Snyder says.

Luna, a child and adolescent psychiatrist, is originally from Mexico City. Raised a Catholic, he converted to Judaism when he married his wife, Rachelle. When their daughter Nicole became a Reform Rabbi, Luna decided to take Melton classes to expand his knowledge of Jewish concepts both as a father and as a psychiatrist.

“By having three physicians in one class, we spent a lot of time discussing issues as they pertained to our own personal experiences,” Luna says. “I think the diversity among our medical backgrounds allowed for a diversity of thoughts which made for fascinating discussions.”

Smith, a nephrologist, grew up in an Orthodox household in Philadelphia. He decided to take the Melton class with his wife Helene, because other than attending Congregation Beth El, he wanted to learn more about the history behind “why we do what we do instead of just doing it.” Many of the whys were explained during the first year of Melton.

Smith says he especially enjoyed the second year because the discussions in class helped him with daily decisions he makes in his field. “I deal with issues of ventilators, dialysis and to what degree we make the decision to keep people alive if they are dependent on machines. The second year discussions, with everyone’s contribution and input, really made me think about how to resolve of these major issues.”

“In Pirke Avot, Ethics of the Fathers, it says ‘Who is wise? Someone who learns from every person.’ This was my experience from the group discussions we enjoyed during the Melton classes,” says Luna.

Snyder’s hectic schedule allows him little time for anything extra-curricular. “I was often tired at the end of day,” he says, “but never once did I regret coming to a Melton class.”

The community is invited to attend the Florence Melton Adult Mini-School 10th Graduation at the Simon Family JCC. For more informatioinformation, call Miriam Brunn Ruberg 321-2328.

by Leslie Shroyer