Instruction, resources & community for those seeking greater awareness, wisdom, and transformation through the Jewish spiritual path of Mussar.

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Jeffrey Agron
Director of Operations

Jeffrey Agron is the Director of Operations for The Mussar Institute. He has been studying and practicing Mussar since he first met Alan Morinis 15 years ago. He was an original member of the Board of Directors of TMI. Jeff is a trained Mussar facilitator, having graduated from TMI’s Manchim program, and having completed all of TMI’s courses. He is a graduate of Northwestern University and the University of Miami Law School. In 2001, Jeff was certified as a Jewish meditation teacher from Chochmat HaLev in Berkeley, Calif., and in 2003 as a Jewish Spiritual Director from the Yedidya Center for Spiritual Direction.

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Rivka Felsher

Dr. Rivka Felsher has joined The Mussar Institute as the Congregational Programs Administrator after 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 has a doctorate in Educational Leadership and is an avid potter. Rivka will be providing support for congregational programs. She resides in Southeast Florida with her husband and two children. Rivka looks forward to embarking on her personal and professional Mussar journey with TMI.

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Rabbi Avi Fertig
Director of Mussar

Rabbi Avi Fertig is the author of Bridging the Gap (Feldheim 2007), a comprehensive guide to important Mussar concepts and Mussar lessons from the Talmud as well as the classical works of the modern Mussar movement. The book is based on talks given by Rabbi Reuvain Leuchter, a foremost student of Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe. Rabbi Fertig was born in the United States and for the past 16 years has resided in Israel. He studied at the Ner Yisrael Yeshiva in Baltimore and has also learned and taught at Yeshiva Neve Zion and the Mir Yeshiva of Jerusalem. He is currently a rebbe and teacher at Yeshivat Reishit, in Beit Shemesh, Israel and Associate Dean of the Mussar Institute, where he has been guiding courses and programs since 2010.

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Miriam Goodman

Miriam Goodman is the Course Coordinator for The Mussar Institute.  Miriam is a certified Spiritual Director trained through the Yedidya Center for Jewish Spiritual Direction. She has been studying and practicing Mussar since 2008, when it was first brought to her synagogue in Thousand Oaks, CA.  Miriam is a trained Mussar facilitator, having graduated from TMI’s Manchim program in 2009, and after completion, has led many TMI courses, including Manchim, where she  trained new TMI leaders. As the Course Coordinator for TMI, Miriam oversees TMI’s programs, including Season of Mussar, Path of The Soul, Mussar in Action, and Chaburah.  Miriam is currently training new leaders in TMI’s Yesod program.

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Steven Kraus
Executive Director

Steve comes to TMI with more than 20 years of professional experience in the Jewish community, including 12 years leading change in Jewish education at JESNA (Jewish Education Service of North America). Earlier in his career, Steve served as Director of Education at two synagogues, one in Miami and the other in Elkins Park, Pa. Most recently, Steve served as Executive Director of the Alliance for Continuing Rabbinic Education (ACRE), a multi-denominational coalition of rabbis.
Steve has an M.A. in Jewish History and Education from the Jewish Theological Seminary and a B.A. in Jewish Studies from the University of Toronto. Steve resides in Melrose Park, Pa., is happily married to wife Bonni, and has four children and five grandchildren.

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Alan Morinis
Founder of The Mussar Institute

Alan Morinis is the founder and Dean of The Mussar Institute and an active interpreter of the teachings and practices of the Mussar tradition, about which he regularly gives lectures and workshops. Born and raised in a culturally Jewish but non-observant home, he studied anthropology at Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship. For the past twenty years, the nearly-lost Jewish spiritual discipline of Mussar has been his passion, a journey recorded in the book Climbing Jacob’s Ladder (Broadway 2002). His guide to Mussar practice, entitled Everyday Holiness: The Jewish Spiritual Path of Mussar, was published in May 2007. His newest book on Mussar, With Heart in Mind, was published in August 2014.

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Ruth Schapira
Director of Leadership and Training

Ruth has held positions in Jewish and nonprofit organizations ranging from academic institutions and government agencies to synagogues, volunteer organizations and camps. She has been a teacher, consultant, counselor, writer, business owner and artist. In addition, she is a blogger and writes posts about Judaism, leadership and outreach strategies. Ruth has a Master’s Degree in Counseling from New York University and undergraduate degrees in Fine Arts and Psychology from American University. She is currently a student in the doctoral program for Jewish Education at Gratz College. Ruth serves on the Philadelphia Board of Hadassah as the Vice-President of Strategic Planning, and on the Advisory Council of InterfaithFamily/Philadelphia. Ruth and her husband, Jerry, reside in Bucks County, Pa., and their two married children (along with three grandchildren) live in New York City.