Asking questions and a lifelong pursuit of knowledge is part of the fabric of Jewish life; here we call this 'Jewish Innovation.'







Konikoff Center for Learning


The Konikoff Center for Learning (KCL) is Tidewater’s hub for experiential Jewish education and engagement of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater and Simon Family JCC. These are high-impact learning experiences that include programs, classes, workshops, and symposiums that span generations and interests. KCL engages, educates, equips, and inspires individuals to deepen their Jewish knowledge and connection.


Upcoming KCL Events


About the Course


Open the Jewish bible and explore the timeless stories of our ancestors and how they relate to 21st-century Jewish life. Discover the values embedded in these stories and in our holidays and traditions, and leverage these lessons to bring the conversation home to your family and friends with confidence and enthusiasm.


This eye-opening journey will give you the tools to impart the beliefs, richness, and beauty of our tradition to your loved ones, from one generation to the next.


All Classes are at 10:30am, at Ohef Sholom on Sunday mornings.


January 29: Stories and Values

Feb 26: Creating Jewish Space

March 26: Living Beyond the Day-to-Day

April 23: Birth of a Nation


Free & Open to all parents in the community. Registration Required.









About the Event


Every smart young couple starts their marriage with the same dreams, goals and ideals. They’re one hundred percent sure that they will live in married bliss forever.


Until they aren’t.


Until the bickering, fighting and loneliness become second nature and they are left wondering where they went wrong. Unfortunately, making a happy marriage is not intuitive, and most couples make the same fatal errors when trying to build their home. They’re not aware that these minor infractions are ruining the most precious relationship of their life.


Make sure that your marriage doesn’t succumb to the same mistakes that Rabbi Shafier has seen so many others make. Unfold and unwind the pieces of your partnership so that you can understand your relationship from the inside out.


This event includes a dessert reception and a FREE copy of The Ten Dumb Mistakes that Very Smart Couples Make.  (Limited quantities available. Free copies of the book will be provided in the order of registrations.)


Presented as a partnership between the Ann Zukerman Memorial Scholar in Residence Program of B'nai Israel Congregation and the Konikoff Center for Learning of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater.


About the Speaker

Rabbi Bentzion Shafier is the founder of, author of the books Stop Surviving and Start Living, Finding and Keeping Your Soulmate, The Torah Lifestyle and Two Minutes to Bitachon.


He is also the man behind the Shmuz itself, a forty-five minute weekly lecture that has been loved around the globe for over ten years. He is responsible for delivering cutting-edge Torah content through live webinars, videos, articles and more.


His book The Ten Dumb Mistakes that Very Smart Couples Make provides a new level of understanding of what makes a marriage work. During this program, he will coach you on the practical techniques you need to bring a new level of intimacy and love into your marriage and to avoid these ten fundamental errors and build the most satisfying relationship imaginable.




MONDAY, MARCH 6 @ 12:00 PM


About the Course


Jewish Roots of Modern American Star-chitects


FREE for JCC members with code MemberJAE at checkout $5 for JCC Guests. Includes lunch.


This presentation highlights the background and work of nine (9) Jewish architects who have designed well-known buildings within the United States and around the world. They include Richard Neutra, Victor Gruen, Louis Kahn, Max Abramovitz, Eero Saarinen, Frank Gehry, Denise Scott Brown, Moshe Safdie, and Daniel Libeskind.


About the Instructor


Rick Rivin is a native of Portsmouth, Virginia. He attended Harvard College and the Harvard Graduate School of Design, where he obtained a Master’s Degree in Architecture. As the Vice President of LIFE, INC., a project and construction management firm in Chesapeake, VA, Rivin provided expert opinions regarding building envelope performance problems and the investigation and remediation of dysfunctional buildings. He also served on the Construction Panel of the American Arbitration Association, and worked to mediate and arbitrate many construction-related disputes. He has served as an Adjunct Instructor in Construction Specifications Writing and Construction Management at Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA and Tidewater Community College in Virginia Beach, VA.


After a 40+ year professional career, he remains a member Emeritus of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), and has been elevated to Fellowship in the Constructions Specifications Institute (CSI). 


He recently joined the staff of the Jewish Art Education Corporation (JAE) as a program presenter. Formerly, he served as president of the Portsmouth Kiwanis Club, of Temple Sinai, and of the Jewish Museum and Cultural Center. He is now a member of Ohef Sholom Temple in Norfolk, VA, where he has served on its Board of Directors.


Fascinated by the many Jewish architects who have practiced in the United States, he has researched the lives of nine of them who have achieved celebrity status during the last century. This presentation explores the work and backgrounds of Jews who have been recognized, both nationally and internationally, for their substantial impact on the entire architectural profession.



WEDNESDAY, MAY 8 @ 12:00


About the Course


Art of Israel

The Art of Israel surveys the history of the land through art objects. It begins with the building of King Solomon’s Temple, and continues with the Jewish catacombs, the synagogue mosaics, and the establishment of the modern State of Israel. This program follows the sweep of Israeli history while focusing on the visual arts and artists of recent centuries. 

FREE for JCC members with code MemberJAE at checkout $5 for JCC Guests. Includes lunch.


Information coming soon


About the Instructor


Information Coming Soon



The Florence Melton School of Jewish Learning in Tidewater engages adult learners in a life-enhancing study of Jewish texts and ideas that nurtures and deepens Jewish community. Through classes (both in-person and online) and travel seminars, Melton learners find Jewish texts and ideas accessible and relevant to their lives. They become part of a worldwide movement of committed learners who are empowered to enrich Jewish life.

Melton is the largest pluralistic adult Jewish education network in the world, with 50 Melton communities throughout the United States, Canada, Australia and South Africa. More than 50,000 learners have experienced Melton’s professionally developed curriculum and lively interactive classes.

Inventor and activist Florence Zacks Melton z”l (1911-2007) envisioned and endowed The Florence Melton Institute in 1986 as a project of the Melton Centre at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She sought to bring to life a comprehensive and sophisticated program of Jewish learning for adults. To this day, Melton attributes its values of accessibility, open-mindedness, integrity, community, and innovation to her enduring vision.


Upcoming Courses



Jews in America, Insiders and Outsiders


10 Week Course, January 18-March 29


Wednesdays, 6:45-8:30 PM


Melton's version of a Jewish-American “Stuff You Missed in History Class”! In 10 engaging sessions, learners will discuss seminal developments in American life, such as the Jewish contributions to American culture, American literature, and the Civil Rights Movement, through the lens of Jews straddling their status as both insiders and outsiders.


The course will also examine antisemitism and the Holocaust, and the changing place of Zionism in the shaping of Jewish American identity. Sharing tales from immigrants, their children, and grandchildren, learners will debate the meaning of this ongoing saga.


More Information & Registration


About the Instructor


Dr. Amy K. Milligan

Dr. Amy K. Milligan is the Batten Endowed Associate Professor of Jewish Studies and Women’s Studies at Old Dominion University, where she is also the director of the Institute for Jewish Studies and Interfaith Understanding. She specializes in the study of small American Jewish communities, especially in the South.





Free Taste December 19

Exploring a Forgotten World: A Social History of Medieval Jewry


10 Week Course: January 19-March 30


Online or In-Person Attendance


Thursdays, 12:00-1:30 PM



Enjoy a front-row seat to the drama, gossip, legal transactions, and other daily intrigues of Jewish life—in the Middle Ages. This 10-session course brings to life an exotic era in Jewish history, revealing the inner thoughts of real-life characters through the Cairo Genizah, a collection of 400,000 worn-out scraps, text fragments, and documents buried for centuries.


Interpreting textual evidence yields new insights into the daily interactions and behaviors of Jewish men, women and families living along the Mediterranean more than 1,000 years ago – and at root, how similar they are to our own family dynamics, business ventures and communal concerns today. Join us for a historical journey of intrigue and adventure!


More Information & Registration


About the Instructor


Michael Panitz

Michael Panitz is a rabbi and an academician . He has served as rabbi of Temple Israel of Norfolk since 1992. He has also taught Jewish Studies, Religious Studies, History, and Hebrew language courses at area colleges and universities since 1996. Two foci of Rabbi Michael’s work are raising the level of engagement with the intellectual riches of the Jewish tradition and facilitating inter-religious understanding.


Rabbi Michael and Sheila have been married for forty four years, and are devoted to their three children and four grandchildren.


Experience a FREE TASTE of this course!


December 19 at 12:00 pm. Online or In Person Register here.




Previous Courses

  • The Holocaust as Reflected in Diaries and Memoirs, October 2022

  • Biblical Women: Emerging from the Margins through Midrash • January 2022

  • Jewish Mysticism: Tracing the History of Kabbalah • January 2022




Contact Sierra Lautman, Director of Jewish Innovation,at or (757) 965-6107.