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Jewish Life & Learning

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The Center for Jewish Life and Learning promotes Jewish literacy, learning, exploration, and innovation through classes, workshops, lectures, and public forums. The Center’s diverse opportunities for learning and celebration are open to all and addresses adults at every level of Jewish education. 

Upcoming Classes

A Taste of Mussar
Four-week session with classes on 3/29, 4/5, 4/26, 5/3
12:30 at the Simon Family JCC
Cost for the series is $36.

Click here to register

Questions? Email MGoldberg@simonfamilyjcc.org.

Dr. Alan Morinis, founder and dean of The Mussar Institute, and guest scholar wowed the community during the recent Milton “Mickey” Kramer Scholar-in-Residence Fund’s 4th Annual Tidewater Together presented by the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater and the Tidewater Synagogue Leadership Council.  Morinis offered six unique conversations at six different locations throughout Tidewater in February, and guided the community in the exploration of the Jewish spiritual practice of Mussar.  Before Dr. Morinis left Tidewater, the community began asking for more.

The Simon Family JCC will offer A Taste of Mussar beginning March 29 at 12:30 pm, facilitated by Rabbi Gavriel Rudin.  This introductory four-week course developed by Dr. Alan Morinis will give attendees the opportunity to experience the tradition of learning and practicing Mussar that has engaged and helped people for centuries.

Mussar is a centuries-old Jewish body of teachings, a perspective, and a disciplined practice that provides distinctively Jewish answers to the sorts of questions any thinking person asks about life:

  • Why do I keep making the same mistakes over and over?
  • Why do I cause pain to myself and others?
  • What steps can I take to bring my life closer to my spiritual potential?
  • Are there lessons I can learn from the experiences of previous generations?

Mussar provides guidance in identifying one’s uniquely personal path of spiritual growth and offers practices to help bring about that growth.

Attendees will work on four themes that introduce the treasure-house of Mussar:

  • Mussar as a guidance system for the soul on its journey in this life, including the anatomy of the soul, one’s personal soul curriculum, and how to use that curriculum as the basis for personal growth
  • Humility: the foundation of all spiritual development
  • Trust: honoring the twin masters of effort and letting go
  • Discovering one’s unique spiritual curriculum


Attendees will receive three emails each week, each of which will include three core elements to guide learning and practice:

  • A short reading drawing on the teachings of Mussar Masters such as Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, Rabbi Bahya ibn Pakuda, and Rabbi Yisrael Salanter.
  • Mussar practice guided by Alan Morinis or Shirah Bell (usually in audio format).
  • Reflection questions to deepen the learning and provide guidance in applying the concepts to everyday life.

There are no prerequisites for this program, and no language other than English is required.

Cost for the series is $36.
To register visit the Simon Family JCC front desk, call 321-2338 or click here. 

Questions?  Email MGoldberg@simonfamilyjcc.org.