The Maine Conference for Jewish Life is a pluralistic opportunity for superior Jewish learning and joyous celebration in central Maine. Living far from America’s major urban centers (and from one another), Jews in northern New England rarely gain access to the Jewish world’s finest scholars and cultural innovators, or the experience of being surrounded by a critical mass of other Jews. This conference brings Jews from across the region together in order to gain familiarity with the jewels of Jewish civilization, convene with other Jews from around the state, exchange best practices for crafting successful rural Jewish lives, experience the benefits and challenges of celebrating in a pluralistic environment, and revel in Torah learning.

In recognition of the constraints of our extraordinary times, the 2020 Maine Conference for Jewish Life went online. In accordance with the strictures of Shabbat, the conference consisted of statewide services on Friday June 12, and a day of learning on Sunday, June 14, capped off by an intimate concert with Nefesh Mountain. While we were of course heavy-hearted by the thought that we could not see one another in person just yet, we were excited and eager to bring an inspiring, exciting, and uplifting program of learning. We are looking forward to bringing you updates about our June 2021 conference this spring!

Many thanks to our 2020 sponsors: The Covenant Foundation, Colby College Office of the President, Colby College Department of Jewish Studies, and Jewish Federations of North America.

If you have questions about the conference please contact Director of Summer Programs Mel Weiss: maweiss@colby.edu.

Schedule: Sunday, June 14, 2020

10 am
Welcome: Rabbi Rachel Isaacs, director, Center for Small Town
Jewish Life

10:15 am
Sacred Music in Times of Healing and Transformation with Rabbi Or and Feliza Zohar, musicians and teachers from the Galilee, Israel

10 am
Maine Rabbis Panel: A Text on One Foot—What Text Gives Me Comfort Right Now?

12 noon
Creativity in Times of Challenge, with Rabbi Adina Allen of the Jewish Studio Project

12:45 pm
“Edek,” A Short Film Screening and Conversation with Barbara Merson, director of the Maine Jewish Film Festival. Made possible by the Maine Jewish Film Festival.

1:30 pm
A Moment of Meditation and Music with Cantor Sheila Nesis

2:15 pm
A Kosher Wilderness Experience with Brian Kresge 

3 pm 
Jewish Storytelling with Rebbitzen Lisa Mayer

3:30 pm
Closing Ceremony with Rabbi Erica Asch

4 pm
Concert with Doni Zasloff and Eric Lindberg of Nefesh Mountain!


Conference Schedule

Housing and Transportation

Housing Information:

When the conference returns to being an in-person event, dorm rooms at Thomas College will be available for the entire weekend. If you would prefer to stay off campus, please make a reservation at one of Waterville’s hotels or B&Bs.

The Best Western reserves a block of rooms for conference participants at a reduced rate. To book, make your reservation by phone and say that you are calling regarding the Maine Conference for Jewish Life.

Other Hotels Include:

Please Note: 

If coming by bus, Concord Coach does not run to Waterville over the summer. Only Greyhound provides direct service. However, Concord Coach does stop in Augusta year-round, and one can order a taxi from Augusta to Waterville.

Local Information

Colby is located on Mayflower Hill, overlooking the small city of Waterville, Maine, just 15 minutes north of Maine’s capital, Augusta. Waterville is home to 15,000 residents and boasts a downtown district that features a municipal auditorium (the Waterville Opera House), one of America’s great independent cinemas (three screens), and many locally owned businesses including restaurants, bakeries, retail stores, and a brewery. Visitors will also find a half-dozen hotels, two hospitals, a multiplex movie theater, and nationally recognized businesses—Starbucks, Home Depot, and many fast food chains—within city limits.


When is the conference?
2021 conference details to be announced later this spring

Who should I contact with questions?
Melanie Weiss: maweiss@colby.edu

How can I get updates on the conference?
Like us on Facebook!