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In This Issue

Welcome – Jeff Agron
Through A Mussar Lens – By Alan Morinis
Everyday Holiness: The Course – By Shirah Bell
Upcoming Events and Announcements


This month, as we enter spring, I am reflecting on the growth and flowering of The Mussar Institute 2.0 (as I called it in an article last year) from the seeds that were planted at our annual meeting of the Board last June, and the ground that was laid several years ago at our first meeting in San Francisco. Our annual Mussar Kallah, in New York last November, was our most successful gathering ever. We not only presented a wonderful weekend of learning, but we also did so with financial wisdom; consequently, and largely as a result of the generosity of those who responded to our Kallah fundraising appeal, we have been able to start a small endowment fund for future Kallot.

We also restructured our board, making each board member responsible for specific operations of the Institute. This structure has been successful in bringing about new programs, improving existing programs and streamlining the operations of the Institute, putting us in better shape to weather the economic crisis.

Our next board meeting will be in Seattle in May, in conjunction with a local Kallah organized by Shirah Bell. At that meeting, we will say thank you to Carol Robinson for her successful tenure as co-president and board member, and we will welcome a new co-president and vice-president. We also expect to elect new board members at that time.

The following is an update on a few of the exciting, recent developments, thanks to our board members and other wonderful volunteers:

Path of the Soul  - Board member Modya Silver is co-leading this course with Alan.

Mussar in Action – We are rewriting all of the lessons and the va'ad assignments, so that we offer fresher and deeper materials to our students.

Manchim (Mussar group leader training) -  Our 16 students are either leading a local group or putting groups together.  It took many people a lot of work to put this together and the result is a very rich and sound program. We want to start a second cohort of leadership training this spring.

A Season of Mussar - the first level of the program was thoroughly updated in the fall, thanks to much work from Roann Altman and Alan.  We are moving on to update the second level. Since November 2008, we have had A Season of Mussar groups in Dallas, Denver, Phoenix and Seattle as well as Toms River, N.J., New Hope, Pa., Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids, Mich., Clear Lake, Tex., and Encinitas, Thousand Oaks and Marin County, Calif. Our total number of students is about 200 and more groups are forming.

Teen Curriculum – We have received initial funding to begin developing this curriculum.  Thanks to Board member Dr. Sam Axelrad for his persistence in this area.

Jeff Agron

Through A Mussar Lens

By Alan Morinis

One of my favorite Talmudic stories tells of Rabbi Akiva arriving one evening in a town with a donkey, a rooster and a lamp. Why Rabbi Akiva is traveling with such unusual baggage, we are not told. We do learn, though, that when he goes to the inn to seek lodging, he is told that the inn is full. There is nowhere for him to sleep, and so he wanders back beyond the city limits to bed down in a field for the night.

Already we can see that life is not going in his favor, but it only gets worse. That night, a lion eats his donkey, a cat snatches his rooster, and the wind blows out the lamp. Truly, it seems that his luck has gone from bad to worse.

Read entire article.

Everyday Holiness: The Course

By Shirah Bell, Director of Everyday Holiness Program

You may be tired of hearing about Bernie Madoff, the stock market decline, and the terrible suffering that has resulted. Many of us are staring at our brokerage or bank statements wondering, “How did this happen to me?” That is a very interesting question, but I would like to turn it from the passive to the active voice and ask, “How did I participate in this happening?”  What middah or middot might the current situation reveal to be off balance in me?

Read entire article.


The Mussar Institute depends on the generosity of supporters. Please consider making a donation to honor someone or to remember a loved one.

Sybil McCullen
Yvette Pomeranz

Donations gratefully accepted here.

events and announcements


March 20-22
Ann Arbor, MI
More info: www.jewishannarbor.org and click on the Mussar Weekend link.


April 26

A new session of Manchim: training for Mussar group leaders begins.
Contact Sam Finnerman for details and applications - sam@hudsoncommercial.com

April 23

Nine Lessons on Eight Chapters

A video-conference course over 9 weeks with Rabbi Yaakov Feldman, who recently issued a new translation of Rambam's Eight Chapters.
For information, contact Annie Klein at annie.klein7@gmail.com.


Boston (men only) – Contact Sue Millelbeck at susanm@tisrael.org.

Lexington, MA – Contact Lisa Goodman at LTCGoodman@gmail.com.

New York – Contact Mara Gross at mara3430@aol.com.

Queens, NY – Contact Eileen Korby at eileenfrances@earthlink.net.


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