Who We Are
We are a community of learners and seekers who strive to reach our full potential as individuals and in our communities.
We draw on and share the teachings of Mussar, a practical and inspiring Jewish spiritual tradition, to foster a life of greater meaning and enhanced relationships.
We open the pathway of Mussar to Jews of all denominations and affiliations, and to others who wish to explore these Jewish spiritual practices.
WHAT WE OFFER
Authentic Va'ad Experiences, to study and practice Mussar with a committed group of students across a variety of courses and groups.
Independent Learning: your pace; your time
Training for Mussar Facilitators in the unique style of Mussar instruction.
Local Courses for Facilitators to use in congregations, at Jewish Community Centers, Federations, and more.
A Thriving Community of like-minded people who joyfully enhance and transform their experience of daily life through Mussar.
Opportunities for Rabbis to connect and deepen their personal study.
The Elul Program of intense study for Chaverim.
The Omer Program to count the Omer as a community - a free, daily email to all those on our mailing list.
In the Summer of 2020, we surveyed our community about the ways Mussar study and practice impact their lives. We heard from 345 respondents. Here are the results.
We strive to support meaningful, lasting, spiritual life change for our members and our broader Mussar community worldwide which has grown to more than 7,000.
Serving our community is the center of our vision and we have grown our membership to nearly 400.
Numbers tell only part of the story. The quality of our courses and programs is paramount.
The Chaverim Community Grows to nearly 4000%
Mailing List Signups Exceed 7,0000%
Mussar Students In All Programs Compared to Annual Goal0%
History of TMI
Alan Morinis begins intensive study in the Jewish spiritual tradition of Mussar with Rabbi Yechiel Yitzchok Perr and Rebbetzin Shoshana Perr.
Alan Morinis' first book on Mussar, Climbing Jacob's Ladder, is published.
- Alan begins to book tour and offer lectures as well as va'ad-based Mussar programming in local congregations in Canada and the United States.
- The first annual Kallah is held in New York City at the JCC in Manhattan.
In response to requests for education and training in Mussar across North America, the Mussar Institute Society - USA is chartered in Oregon as a religious nonprofit corporation.
2005Mussar Institute Society is registered as a charity in Canada. In the ensuing years, it becomes the world’s leading global provider of contemporary Mussar resources and instruction.
Alan's second book, Everyday Holiness, is published.
Formalized Mussar facilitation training (Manchim) is launched to help standardize va'ad-based courses and expand its offerings.
Alan's third book, Every Day, Holy Day, is published.
- Alan's fourth book, With Heart in Mind, is published.
- Mussar Institute Society revokes its Canadian charity registration to streamline its expanding operations from the U.S.
- The Women's Va'ad is launched, an advanced course written and delivered by Rebbetzin Dina Schoonmaker and Rabbi Avi Fertig with input from Rabbi Judith Edelstein based on traditional, classic Mussar concepts for a female audience.
- Congregational program curricula are launched with specialized Mussar facilitation training (Yesod) offered to clergy and lay leaders in dozens of synagogues across several denominations.
2017The John Templeton Foundation awards a 3-year grant to scale up a Teen Mussar Curriculum for implementation and evaluation in religious schools, day schools, and camps through 2020.
- The Mussar Institute Society - U.S.A. officially changes its name to The Mussar Institute (TMI) to emphasize its global reach.
- TMI begins the Chaverim Initiative, its sustaining membership program, to respond to the need for connection and more intermediate and advanced-level instruction in the growing global Mussar community. The Chaverim Initiative is open to all.
- TMI invests in technology upgrades including learning management and classroom meeting systems, new communications software, a new CRM database, and a website redesign.
2020The Teen Program begins 5-year expansion plan with new administrative and instructional leadership funded from multiple sources.
- TMI is poised with its new technology to shift all course and program delivery online as the world enters into the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout this very challenging period, TMI offers free public programming to help the community.
- Virtual Kallah 2021 becomes TMI's first completely online, multiple-day, Mussar conference with over 200 participants in attendance.
- Tapestry: Mussar Through a Woman's Lens is launched in response to a desire in the community. This is a course by and for women with an open door to men.
- TMI upgrades to a new online learning environment and introduces Makor to the community in the fall of 2022.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
The Mussar Institute is a non-profit organization governed by a volunteer Board of Directors.
Alan is widely considered to be a leader in the resurgence of contemporary Mussar. Born into a culturally Jewish, non-observant home, he studied anthropology at Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship. He teaches, writes curriculum, and speaks frequently. His books include Climbing Jacob’s Ladder, Everyday Holiness, and With Heart in Mind. LEARN MORE
Dianne brings a wealth of experience in customer service and management gained in the luxury giftware industry. She is a certified yoga instructor with more than 500 hours of teaching experience. She teaches and has taught yoga, including Mussar Yoga, at a variety of locations including the Mayerson JCC, Wise Temple, and other congregations. She discovered Mussar after being enlightened by one of her students about Edith Brotman’s book, Mussar Yoga, and through the book she found TMI. She lives with her husband in Cincinnati, OH. They have two grown children and a beloved granddaughter.
Teen Program Associate
Sarah graduated from the School of Education and the school of Jewish Nonprofit Management at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. She comes to TMI from Kehillah Jewish High School where she loved working with student leaders and organizing and leading the annual class trips as their Director of Experiential Education. She is excited to bring her organizational systems skills and passion for empowering students to TMI. She currently lives in France with her husband and two cats.
Director of Teen Program
In addition to her position as Teen Program Director, Leslie-Anne also serves on the Board of Directors. She brings experience in the areas of leadership, team effectiveness, and fundraising. Leslie has served as a consultant for Combined Jewish Philanthropies’ Leadership Development Institute, is a Vice-Chair of the URJ Communities Leadership Team (NE), and has held senior positions at several not-for-profit organizations, including Boston Baroque, WNET-NY, UCS, and Common Ground Stage and Film Company. She is the proud mother of three, ages (17, 20, and 23), and is a past president pf her synagogue community.
Director of Operations
Rivka brings to TMI nearly two decades in private and public higher education administration and instruction, private congregational school leadership and instruction, educational consulting, and freelance editing and writing. She holds a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and is an avid potter. She resides in Southeast Florida with her husband and two children.
Director of Mussar
Avi Fertig studied at the Yeshiva of Ner Yisrael, in Baltimore, before moving to Israel in 1997. While studying at the Mir Yeshivah of Jerusalem, he forged a close relationship with Rabbi Reuvain Leuchter, a foremost student of Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe, a recognized master of Mussar. Since that time, he has been studying, writing, and teaching Mussar to thousands of students. He is the author of two books on Torah and Mussar. He lives in Beit Shemesh with his wife and six children.
Facilitator Training Consultant
Rabbi Jen Gubitz discovered Mussar in 2014 and has been a devoted practitioner and facilitator in Synagogue communities ever since. With over 15 years of experience in Jewish professional life, Jen is a graduate of Indiana University and was ordained in 2012 by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (NY) where she was a Tisch Rabbinical Fellow. She is the founder of Modern JewISH Couples. Her writing appears in the Boston Globe, Lilith Magazine, and OnBeing. She lives in Boston with her husband, Matan, and their rescue dog, Joey.
Director of Chaverim and Outreach
Eric is a graduate of SUNY-Albany and was ordained at the Hebrew Union College Jewish Institute of Religion in New York. Eric has served congregations in New York City; Jackson, MS; Teaneck, NJ; Newton, MA; and is currently the rabbi of Sha'arei Shalom in Ashland, MA. Eric facilitates Mussar groups throughout the Greater Boston area and in Western Massachusetts. He and his wife, Laura Kizner Gurvis are blessed with four children and three young grandsons.
Communications and Digital Associate
Alex Keller writes and manages a variety of communications projects and digital assets for TMI. Following a year at the Art Academy of Cincinnati, he graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a degree in Journalism and English. Recently, he managed a staff of 30 at Cincinnati's premier destination and event venue, Taft's Ale House after traveling the Southern U.S. as a member of a successful sales team. Alex is grateful to the Mussar Institute for providing the courses and Kallah. On the recommendation of R. Ja'acov Haber, he continues to list three good things each day in his journal.
Director of Communications
Debra brings many years of public relations experience to her work. She has been an agency Senior Counselor at Dan Pinger Public Relations, Director of Communications and Development for the Nashville Film Festival, and the Executive Director of the VIA Institute on Character, an organization that studies the science of character strengths. Debra converted to Judaism in 2012 at The Temple Congregation Ohabai Shalom in Nashville. Her daughter and three granddaughters have since converted as well. She lives near her wonderful children and three granddaughters on the St. Lawrence Seaway in New York.
Assistant Director of Programming
Helaine Sheias, Ph.D., made Aliyah to Israel in her teens, served in the IDF, and settled in Israel for more than two decades. She is the co-author of the TMI Tapestry Courses and a graduate of the Yesod and Manchim Facilitator Training programs. She has facilitated many TMI courses where she guides participants to the sacred place of inner balance. This process facilitates circles of transformation and change by modeling spiritual awakening, and self-reflexive learning, or hitlamdut. Facilitating Mussar courses brings Helaine deep joy and a continuous sense of awe and wonder.
Co-Chair Facilitator Development Council
Evie Weinstein has spent most of her professional life in Jewish Education and Jewish Communal work. Her career started in Jewish camping as the Assistant Director of Camp Lakeland and directing the Children and Youth Departments at the JCC of Greater Buffalo.
Evie became the Executive Director of the Bureau of Jewish Education of Buffalo and the Principal of the High School of Jewish Studies. It is there she was introduced to Mussar and Alan Morinis through Lead with Jewish Values, a Mussar Institute course for professional staff. Evie was trained as a Mussar Facilitator in Manchim and thus her relationship with The Mussar Institute began.
Evie has facilitated many TMI courses, has consulted and worked with Alan on the Challenges and Choices TMI course for teens, and is now on the Facilitator Task Force. She has attended many TMI Kallot.
Director of Manchim Facilitator Training
Nancy Weiss, LCSW, is a depth psychotherapist, spiritual director, and Mussar facilitator dedicated to helping others discover unique pathways to their soul’s expression. She facilitates local and online Mussar groups and is a member of TMI’s Facilitator Development Council. As Coordinator of Manchim, the Facilitator Training Program for The Mussar Institute, she was privileged to work closely with Alan to create the current Manchim curriculum. Nancy collaborated with two Mussar practitioners to create a deck of 90 Mussar cards titled, “Lights of Mussar™ Cards for Creating a Balanced Life.” A collage artist, poet, and SoulCollage® facilitator, Nancy guides people in bringing an expressive voice to the Mussar traits and spiritual principles. Her collage art appears in Midrashic Mirrors, which illustrates the richness of creating art to reflect the essence of each Torah portion.
Co-Chair Facilitator Development Council and Director of Yesod
Rabbi Winokur, Co-Chair of the Facilitator Development Council and Director of Yesod, is a native of New York. He received his B.A. from SUNY at Buffalo, and his M.A. and Ordination from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, Ohio. He is Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Kehillat Chaim, a Reform congregation in Roswell, Georgia, which he founded in 1982. Rabbi Winokur is a Facilitator/Trainer for Prepare-Enrich, an organization that administers premarital/marital needs assessments, a certified Spiritual Director, and a Trainer-Facilitator for The Mussar Institute.