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In This Issue
Signs of spring are visible in the San Francisco Bay Area, where I live. The winter rains are stopping, temperatures are rising and plants are bursting with gorgeous blooms. Spring is a time of new growth, and so too the Mussar Institute is blossoming.
After four years on the board and two years as co-president, my term is coming to an end. When we established this board structure with co-presidents, we agreed that each year a co-president would rotate off and a new person would become co-president. The Mussar Institute is extremely fortunate that Modya Silver of Toronto has agreed to become the new co-president with Jeff Agron.
I am grateful to have had board service on my spiritual curriculum. There were many challenges, but I can see that the seeds that were planted years ago have come to fruition. Two major efforts of my term as co-president, fiscal stability and strategic planning, have led to a stronger organization focused on a vision to foster the learning and practice of Mussar within the Jewish community through education, action, community and relationship-building goals that were first articulated in the organization’s strategic plan.
Preparing For Passover
In only a few days, the cycle of the year will bring us once again to Passover. As we prepare to gather around our Seder tables, I want to share a Mussar teaching about Pesach specifically aimed at that table experience.
This teaching comes from Rabbi Yosef Leib Bloch, who was an influential Mussar leader of a couple generations ago. Rabbi Bloch’s father-in-law was Rabbi Eliezer Gordon (1841-1910), who was a student of Rabbi Yisrael Salanter, founder of the Mussar Movement in Lithuania in the 19th century. When Rabbi Gordon died in 1910, Rabbi Bloch (1849-1930) succeeded him as Rosh Yeshiva of the famed Telz Yeshiva (now located in Cleveland). Among Rabbi Bloch’s many contributions and innovations was his support for the education of girls.
By Shirah Bell, Director of Everyday Holiness Program
It’s not necessary to take a Mussar course. Life presents us with innumerable opportunities for working on our soul curriculum if we pay attention. This morning I walked into my office, ignored my ‘to-do’ list, and started to clear out the tax receipts for 2008 so I could make room for 2009…two months late. As the receipts disappeared into neatly organized files and I had space for filing the accumulating 2009 receipts, I felt my heart expand and a weight lift. I hadn’t realized that I had been carrying around the weight. After all, it was just some tax receipts. “Seder” popped into my head and I saw how I had lulled myself into thinking I had that middah handled.
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ALAN'S MARCH SPEAKING SCHEDULE
April 21, 7:30 p.m.
April 22, 7:30 p.m.
April 23, 7:30 pm,
Due to very enthusiastic response, the new session of Manchim: training for Mussar group leaders is over-subscribed. No additional applications are being accepted. Contact Sam Finnerman for details of future sessions: email@example.com
Grand Rapids, Mich.
A new session of Manchim: training for Mussar group leaders begins. Contact Sam Finnerman for details and applications: firstname.lastname@example.org
Nine Lessons on Eight Chapters, a nine-week video-conference course with Rabbi Yaakov Feldman, who recently issued a new translation of Rambam's Eight Chapters. Contact Annie Klein: email@example.com
MUSSAR IN THE NEWS
Washtenaw Jewish News