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In This Issue
By Jeff Agron, Co-President
“All neshamas come from the same root, and that root connects us all, one to the other.”
Lately, I have been thinking about the ever-increasing web of interconnectedness between members of our The Mussar Institute community. Owing largely, but not exclusively, to the use of electronic communications, like email, Skype and video conferencing, the members of TMI are forming communities both local and long distance.
I went back to prison last month. I had visited the Mussar group at the California Women’s Prison a year ago, and now I had the opportunity to visit again, thanks to an invitation from Shayna Lester, prison chaplain, Mussar student and neshama extraordinaire.
The first time I went behind bars, I really had no idea what to expect. I had never set foot in a prison (thank God!), and in my anxiety about what my interaction with the inmates would be like, my mind reverted to stereotypes. These were women in prison, after all, and that brought up television and movie images of tattoos and exotic body-piercings. But I also knew that the people I would meet identified as Jewish, and in all my travels, I hadn’t come across that tribe of tough Jews who went in heavily for tattoos and body-piercing.
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ASK AND YOU MAY RECEIVE: A NEW FEATURE
Need a chevruta partner? Do you have a Mussar book for sale or one you are seeking? Whatever your need or want in the area of Mussar, beginning this month, The Mussar Institute's newsletter, Yashar, will add a new feature—"Want Ads." You can advertise your need or request by sending it to firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll be sure to include your ad in the next issue of Yashar, as long as we get your ad by our deadline. The deadline is the 10th of each month.
COMING IN FEBRUARY—THREE NEW PROGRAMS FROM THE MUSSAR INSTITUTE
Middah A Month
Mussar thoughts, teachings, exercises and inspiration will be delivered to you, a new middah [soul-trait] in a monthly package. You'll receive carefully selected excerpts from Mussar texts -- to study on your own or with a partner -- stories to inspire children, exercises to help cultivate that trait, and a surprising and changing range of materials to deepen and enrich your engagement with Mussar and your own soul, one middah at a time.
If you live in New York or Los Angeles, you will soon be able to join a small group of people for the most enriched and challenging Mussar program we have ever developed. Over a two-year period, a maximum of 40 people will participate in a stimulating and challenging engagement with contemporary thinkers and leaders who will focus on Mussar subjects, though not necessarily only from a Mussar perspective. Among the subjects: a study of Jewish ethics with Rabbi Joseph Telushkin; and learning with a senior Mussar teacher (perhaps Rabbi Yechiel Yitzchok Perr, or Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein) who will explore Mussar methodologies of transformation with an expert in neuropsychology.
NETWORK – Mussar Group Leader Support
The Mussar Institute has trained more than 50 people to lead Mussar groups, and another 16 people are about to embark on the Manchim group leader training program. As this growing cadre of group leaders continues to form groups and lead people in the exploration of their inner lives and growth, the leaders themselves have needs. This new program will provide enrichment in Mussar learning as well as intensive supervision and support to people leading Mussar groups, especially our Manchim graduates. The first learning program will be a 10-part series of webinars with Rabbi Yaakov Feldman exploring highlights and issues in the Mussar classic, "The Duties of the Heart."
For more information on any of these programs, watch your in-box or email Info@Mussarinstitute.org