It will be a long time before the enormity of the year 2020 can be fully absorbed and integrated into our psyches, but from the vantage point of just a few days into the new calendar year, we can reflect on the highlights (yes there were some!) of the year, at least for the Center for Contemporary Mussar.
This will be an Annual Reports of sorts, a State of CCM as we enter 2021, letting you know what we’ve accomplished and how we are poised for even greater growth and depth in the New Year.
In 2020, CCM:
- Offered 37 classes in which over 200 students were registered
- Introduced a new curriculum structure that includes a Seeds introductory 5-week class; 3 semesters of Foundations focusing on Kibbush and the Cheshbon ha-Nefesh middot, and 3 semesters of Transformations focusing on Tikkun and the Tomer Devorah middot. The entire curriculum will take 3 years, with an optional Zikkui haRabbim/Madrich Training class.
- Welcomed 43 new students to our introductory Seeds classes
- Launched classes with two new madrichim – Elana Eisner and Karen Kripke – bringing the number of active, certified CCM madrichim to 18
- Formed a graduate community of 25+ students which met weekly as a va’ad and is active in developing programming for the coming year
- Presented a 6-part Elul series entitled “Preparing Our Souls for the High Holy Days” featuring CCM’s Rabbinic Advisory Council which was attended by 285 people
- Held an open program following the tumultuous 2020 election entitled “Practicing Mussar Through Our Political Transition” which was attended by 118 people
- Partnered with New CAJE to offer 5 Mussar workshops to their conference attendees on Tisha B’Av for a total of 278 attendees
- Collaborated with Menschwork to offer a special Seeds class and Foundations program for 11 men taught by Herb Levine
- Launched a new class open to the community on the kabbalistic text Nefesh haHayyim, taught by Rabbi Ira Stone
- Continued a va’ad for madrichim to study the later chapters of Tomer Devorah and hone their va’ad facilitation skills
- Offered a new class entitled “Our Collective Trauma: Antiracism through Mussar Lens” taught by Nancy Axelrod
- Welcomed two new board members – Adie Goldberg and Myra Peskowitz – whose terms started in January 2020, and our newest board addition, Dr. Philip Shore, who was elected in December to begin serving in January 2021
- Completed a new workbook currently being beta tested by our current students and madrichim
- Inaugurated a new monthly newsletter with in-depth profiles of CCM’s madrichim, messages from our leadership and clergy, announcements of upcoming events and classes, and student submissions; our “open” rate has increased over 60% from May to December 2020
All of this was made possible by the tireless work of the CCM Board, Madrichim, Rosh Yeshiva (Rabbi Ira Stone), Machgiach Ruchani/Director of Curriculum (Dr. Beulah Trey) and Mashgiach L’shlichut/Director of Outreach and Madrich Development (Sonia Voynow). Particular thanks go to our Administrative Director, Isha Strasser, who hit the ground running in March 2020 creating new registration systems, marketing and data gathering tools, online learning capabilities and support to students and madrichim. We truly could not have achieved all we have without her strategic thinking, bighearted Mussardik approach and superb organizational skills.
While we celebrate all of CCM’s accomplishments of the past year, our enthusiasm is dampened by recalling the untimely and tragic death of our founding president, Linda Kriger. Linda embodied Mussar, reminding us during every meeting, class and phone call to seek out the good. We miss her terribly and were honored that so many people donated to CCM in Linda’s memory and came together for a community graduation for her students.
We look forward to 2021 with great anticipation, to growing both the breadth and reach of our program, offering opportunities for more people to experience the transformative potential of Mussar.
Wishing you a New Year of good health, peace and growth,
Below is a map showing the geographic breadth of our program: