The fifth annual Maine Conference for Jewish Life will take place from Friday through Sunday, June 8-10, at Thomas College, on West River Road, and in downtown Waterville. A program of the Center for Small Town Jewish Life, the conference offers an opportunity to be part of the largest gathering in Maine devoted exclusively to Jewish learning, music, food, celebration and community, according to a news release from the organization. Registration will be held from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Friday and the session will take place from 5 to 8 p.m.

The conference will focus on food and food preparation, including a hands-on pickling workshop, a session about baking challah, Venetian Jewish pastry class with the chef and owner of Ital-iah in downtown Waterville (registration required), a kosher butchering demonstration, and more.

Some highlights include:

• Keynote speaker Joy Friedman, director of Organizing at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, will talk about how to individually and collectively fulfill the requirement to “Do Justice, Love Mercy and Walk Humbly with God”;

• Author Chris Myers Asch looks at Jewish involvement in racial justice movements in the U.S., from abolitionism to civil rights, from the Congress of Industrial Organizations to Black Lives Matter;

• Musicologist Zoë Lang revisits songs from the Society of Jewish Folk Music collected from the Pale of Settlement in the early 1900s;

• Rabbi Rachel Isaacs of Colby College asks, “How do we remain resilient and continue on our journeys in the face of sadness, tragedy, despair, or just boredom?”;

• Yotam Polizer of IsraAID presents on “Saving Lives and Building Bridges Between Enemies: IsraAID Response to the Syrian Refugee Crisis”;

• Rabbi Lisa Vinikoor of Bath explores What would Maimonides teach us about Jewish communal life if he could have come to Maine?;

Kids’ and teen programming will be offered. The conference includes meals, films, music and the option to choose from several Sabbath prayer services.

The Center for Small Town Jewish Life at Colby College showcases how academic and community institutions can work together to improve the cultural life of small towns while enriching the education of college students.

For the full schedule of events and to register, visit

For more information about the center and the conference, email [email protected], or call 859-4271.

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