Spotlight: Becky Herrup, Chair of Melton & More Adult Learning
Posted on 07/07/2020 @ 08:00 AM
Growing up in the “shtetl” of Miami Beach, Becky Herrup found it a perfect community for her to grow up within. Her family was deeply connected to Temple Emanu-El (Conservative Synagogue on Miami Beach then under the leadership of Rabbi Irving Lehrman) at the time, and to the entire Jewish community. Her parents instilled her with a commitment to Jewish ritual, holidays and traditions, which ensured that Judaism would become an integral part of her identity.
Becky’s first job after finishing nursing school also introduced her to her first dose of anti-Semitism -- a life-altering moment. Here she was, in a south Florida hospital, a short distance from Miami Beach and her Jewish upbringing, confronted by people whose opinion of Jews shocked her. It was then she realized the importance of living a life committed to Jewish activism, learning, engagement and Jewish communal service.
Luckily, Becky met a nice Jewish man—her husband Larry-- who was as deep rooted in Jewishness as she was. When they started their family, they were determined to pass their love of Judaism on to their children . Life has taught Becky to lead by example, modelling how to live Jewishly and how to pass on the traditions and rituals of our rich heritage.
As a result, Becky and her family have been and continue to be involved in their synagogue-- now Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center -- and support other Jewish organizations, including AIPAC, JAFCO and CAJE.
What about Jewish education or the CAJE Adult Learning Department motivated you to take this position of leadership?
When I grew up, Bat Mitzvah was a rarity; it wasn’t until I had second child that a close friend brought to my attention the opportunity to take an adult Bat Mitzvah class with Rabbi Irving Lehrman. It was my first formal adult Jewish learning experience . I got inspired! It was my first real exploration in to the “why’s” of Jewish life.
As my children continued to grow up, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs were expected and embraced. During my early years, a Jewish-minded summer camp was a part of my life so it was important to me that my children had a similar experience. For nine summers I was the camp nurse at my children’s “Jewish home away from home.” It was there that I discovered I needed to learn more. Frankly all the kids around me grew up in camp and knew a lot more than I did! I felt embarrassed. I wanted to learn more.
My author of choice was Naomi Ragen. Her books and stories sparked a fire in me and inspired me to sign up for Adult Education classes at Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center, which is where I found Melton & More.
Melton & More classes have become my “Me” time. It feeds my soul. My Judaism is alive because of the learning, discussion and exploration .
The more classes I took the more fascinated I became. The texts came alive. It became clear to me that our moral compass can be found in those sacred texts. The teachers make the ancient texts and wisdom relevant. What’s equally wonderful about my Melton & More experience is the friendships and relationships.
When asked to chair the committee, I accepted because of the programming as well as the fact that someone I admired asked. Like my first personal invitation from a friend to participate in an Adult Bat Mitzvah class sparked the beginning of my adult Jewish learning, this invitation inspired me to become even more engaged and committed to bringing the importance of Adult Jewish learning to my community . Since then, I have been blessed to serve as the chair of Adult Learning & Growth for the past two years.
What do you hope to achieve in your time as chair?
So far, my biggest achievement was hiring Rabbi Laila Haas as Director of Adult Learning & Growth with the goal for her to take us to the next level. The hiring process was a major commitment. I am so proud of our selection committee who approached the responsibility with passion, dedication and energy.
This coming year we are excited about implementing a new vision for the program and bringing more people into our adult learning community . We are envisioning in new ways, experimenting and thinking outside the box. It is an exciting time to be part of this special organization.
As Chair, I have the privilege of a seat on the CAJE board. I am continuously amazed at all CAJE does and its impact in our community . I feel honored to be involved in the conversation and always impressed at the caliber of CAJE’s professionals who make sure the needs of children, teens and adults are addressed educationally to ensure a vibrant Jewish future.
What’s 1 or 2 things would you like our readers to know about Jewish education or the Adult Learning department?
It is important for people to understand that Adult Learning is a place where you can feel comfortable and enriched . Our goal is to offer learning experiences to nourish the mind, body and soul in an environment that is pluralistic, engaging and interactive.
If you are looking to explore the “why’s,” to dig deep into Jewish texts, to understand more about Jewish history, culture and traditions, we invite you to participate with us . Once you’ve tried one class, I know you will be hooked! Classes are sure to give you insight into yourself. You will be amazed to discover what you are missing. Judaism is deeply rooted in who we are and who we strive to become.
Adult learning has given me the gift of knowing how we live our lives, positively, productively and lovingly, from the roots of our tradition. It is incredibly powerful!
I promise you-- taking a class and becoming part of our adult learning community will enrich your entire being. Before you say: “I’m not so sure,” I’m personally inviting you to join me.
For a full listing of our July course offerings,
please visit: cajeadultlearning.org