Madrichim

madrich מדריך (madreekh) noun male / madrichah מדריכה (madreekhah) noun female /madrichim מדריכים (madreekheem) plural: Guide; teacher; trainer; educator; group leader; va’ad facilitator

All CCM classes are taught by trained, certified madrichim, who have gone through our four-year program, followed by a year of Teacher Training. All madrichim receive continued supervision from our most experienced staff members.

Meet our madrichim —

Nancy Axelrod has been a Mussar student since 2009, and a teacher since 2013, in CCM’s South Jersey va’ad. She embraces Abraham Joshua Heschel’s precept of “praying with your feet,” devoting her life to economic justice, racial reconciliation, sustainable communities and non-violence, as an advocate, community organizer and program developer. She holds a BA from the University of Pennsylvania and an MPA from George Washington University and founded the nonprofit Jewish Camden Partnership. Nancy is grateful to CCM for providing a warm community of spiritual practitioners who support each other in transforming their personal relationships and the world.
Rabbi Rachel Rudis Bovitz is the Executive Director of the Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning. Rabbi Bovitz previously was the Director of Millennial Engagement at The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) and an adjunct professor of Jewish Studies at American Jewish University. Rabbi Bovitz began her rabbinic career as Associate Rabbi of Temple Aliyah in Woodland Hills, CA, and was the founding director of the Conejo/West Valley Melton School. Learning, teaching and living Mussar has enriched her life beyond measure.

Rabbi Joshua Boettiger is Jewish Chaplain and Visiting Assistant Professor of Humanities at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. He is the Associate Rosh Yeshiva at CCM and for the last decade, directed the Mussar program at Temple Emek Shalom in Ashland, Oregon. Joshua also teaches Jewish Meditation and co-leads silent retreats. He is a graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.

Rabbah Gila Caine, of Edmonton, AB, fell in love with Mesillat Yesharim four years ago, and dived into a serious introduction to Mussar over a two-year period studying at CCM’s Clergy class. Born and raised in Jerusalem, she is a graduate of the Hebrew University (with a Master’s in Contemporary Judaism) as well as an alumna of HUC-JIR’s Israeli rabbinic program where she was ordained in 2011. Apart from Torah and Am-Yisrael, she is passionate about our stewardship of earth (which she understands as a critical Mussar issue in our  society) and has made this the focus of her rabbinic work. Rabbah Caine has served congregations and unaffiliated Jews in Israel and now in Canada, where she currently lives with her family and is rabbah of Temple Beth Ora Synagogue. She plans to offer a Seeds of Mussar course over the month of Elul, as we prepare ourselves for the world’s birthday.

Rabbi Richard Camras has been senior rabbi at Shomrei Torah Synagogue in West Hills, CA, since 1999 and previously served as Associate Rabbi of Chizuk Amuno Congregation in Baltimore, MD, for seven years. He founded the Conejo/West Valley branch of the Florence Melton Adult Mini-School in 2007 and serves as President of the Pacific Southwest Regional Rabbinical Assembly. Rabbi Camras served for three years as the Chair of the West Valley Rabbinic Task Force at the Valley Alliance Federation and also oversees the West Valley/Conejo Valley Introduction to Judaism class sponsored by the American Jewish University.
Scott Crespy has enjoyed being on and assisting others on the Mussar journey of ethical and spiritual growth since 2010. Scott appreciates the continuity of spiritual wisdom from ancient to present in the Center for Contemporary Mussar (CCM) approach. He enjoys blending insights from his background in psychology with understandings from Mussar philosophy to help facilitate character development and spiritual fulfillment. He believes that a Mussar program strengthens an individual’s ability to deal with life’s uncertainties, enhance relationships, and bring more joy into life’s every day moments. Scott earned a doctorate in Counseling Psychology in 2001 from Lehigh University.

Carol Daniels has studied and practiced Mussar since 2006. She began teaching Mussar in 2011. Her life work has been devoted in helping people understand and express themselves through the use of art, movement, yoga, meditation and breathwork. Carol is particularly interested in the integration of these modalities into a daily Mussar practice. She has extended her Mussar learning into the development of Wise Aging programs with Sara Freeman at Kol Tzedek and Rabbi Shelly Bar Nathan at Or Zarua synagogues in the Philadelphian area. Carol was a founding member of the Center for Contemporary Mussar and served as its first secretary. She is now a member at large on its board. 

Elana Eisner has been with CCM for almost a decade. She is a certified Madrichah, psychotherapist and Jungian Psychoanalyst in private practice; she also teaches Analytic Candidates at the C.G. Jung Institute of Los Angeles. Elana is married with five grown children and six wonderful grandchildren.

Adie Goldberg is a mother of 3, grandmother, daughter, sister, friend, social worker, teacher, world traveler, volunteer and Jew. A lifelong learner, she completed her PhD in her sixties. The deep dive into Mussar at Temple Emek Shalom has turned out to be the most transformative learning of her adult life. Mussar has offered her a Jewish language to understand all her relationships and a framework that guides her in the simplest of encounters.

Martha Hare, DMin (Jewish Spirituality), PhD (anthropology), has been a long-time student of Mussar including completion of training as a Madricha (Leader) at the Center for Contemporary Mussar (CCM).   She has been a member of the Adat Shalom Reconstructionist community in Bethesda MD for over 25 years, and is also involved with Tifereth Israel, a Conservative congregation in Washington DC. As a Spiritual Director, and a Registered Yoga Teacher, Martha’s current focus is on healing our relationship with divinity through embodiment as a springboard for activism.  This focus builds on a career in nursing, research and research administration in areas such as pediatrics, oncology, HIV/AIDS, health disparities and palliative care. A constant throughout the phases of Martha’s career is her concern with building community as well as meditation and spiritual study as an individual and in group settings.

Hazzan Naomi Hirsch graduated from CCM’s 4 year curriculum and subsequently completed CCM’s Madrich training program. Studying and practicing Mussar positively impacts her life everyday. Known as a passionate, energetic teacher, Hazzan Hirsch also serves the Jewish community of Greater Philadelphia as a chaplain, choral conductor, lifecycle officiant and performer. She makes her home in Germantown.
Marty Jacobs has been studying Mussar since 2010 with Mindy Shapiro, Beulah Trey, and Rabbi Ira Stone. He has been a Mussar madrich since 2015. A 1958 graduate of Essex County (NJ) Hebrew High School, he has been studying Torah and Biblical Hebrew for over 60 years. Marty is a retired Polymer Chemist who served as a consultant for twelve years, after directing the Research & Development Departments for two major corporations.

Helene Kates has been with CCM for seven years. She is a certified Madrichah, ordained Maggidah-Omenet (spiritual guide/educator through sacred story) and Shlichat Tzibbur (prayer leader). As half of the Jewish music duo The Baal Shem Tones, she and her husband Michael tour, play concerts and provide Jewish educational programs for all ages. Helene has tutored hundreds of B’nai Mitzvah students and guided their families during their journey. One of her greatest joys is working with individuals and families to explore and strengthen their intrinsic bond to Torah through the transformational power of story and song.

Sandi Kirschner is a life-long learner. She began her Mussar journey after many years of teaching wellness programs to corporate clients.  A graduate of the Florence Melton Institute for Jewish Studies she also holds a Masters degree in PsychoEducational Processes and Group Dynamics. Sandi has been studying Mussar for the past decade. Teaching Mussar is a natural progression in her Spiritual journey. Sandi is an active volunteer in her local Jewish Community, and a long time member of Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania.  Her goals include practicing Mussar to become the best version of herself while teaching others to do the same through this beautiful practice.


Karen Kripke has been with CCM since 2014 and became a certified madrichah in 2018. A lawyer and grant writer with conflict resolution training, Karen has taught on both the high school and college levels. For over 30 years, Karen has been teaching in Philadelphia-area religious schools, most recently at Har Zion Temple. She and her husband Ned are blessed with two sons, a daughter-in-law, and two grandchildren.
Rabbi Daria Jacobs-Velde is the co-rabbi at Oseh Shalom, a Reconstructionist congregation in Laurel, MD. She was ordained by the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 2009, and during her time there was introduced to the practice of Mussar. Since 2006 she has been engaged in this traditional, powerful practice, as taught through CCM. She has taught Mussar in various settings, and continues to be inspired and humbled by the powerful results.

Mindy Muchnick Oppenheimer lives in Wynnewood with her husband David, and is the proud mother of Natalie, Jenna and Rachel. Mindy completed her undergraduate degree in Economics at the University of Pennsylvania and her MBA at UCLA. After working on Wall Street and in private enterprise, she now consults on marketing commercial real estate. Additionally, coinciding with Mussar studies and an “empty nest,” Mindy began training for interfaith Spiritual Care to tap into her love of Chesed work in all of its forms. She currently works with Main Line Health Systems as a hospital chaplain.

Cathy Schechter learned to practice and teach Mussar through four years of training at
CCM. She honed her skill as a deep listener through her long career as a qualitative
researcher and writer. Her passion for Jewish thought, practice and literature led her to a
14-year chavruta with the late Rabbi Judith Abrams z”l, who led her to Hebrew College,
where she earned her Masters in Jewish Studies with a focus on rabbinic literature. She is
an alumnus of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem and has continued her
studies at the Academy of Jewish Religion/NY. Cathy teaches individuals and groups from
her home in Austin, Texas, where she has been a longtime active member of Austin’s
Jewish community and Congregation Agudas Achim

Heidi Schneider is a CCM-certified Madrichah, who was introduced to CCM when
Rabbi Ira Stone conducted a Shabbaton at her congregation in Minnesota. Heidi
and her husband Joel Mintzer are members of Tifereth Israel. In the past year,
Heidi taught Mussar classes to adults and teens with Rabbi Harold Kravitz at Adath
Jeshurun Congregation. Heidi is also the chair of the Masorti Foundation for
Conservative Judaism in Israel and served as president of Adath Jeshurun. She is
a volunteer speaker in Minnesota public and private schools on behalf of the
Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas. She keeps
the passuk for the middah of Bitachon on a post-it note on her desk to remind her
that worry is an opportunity to seek out the other and reconnect in serenity

Sonia Voynow is a psychotherapist in private practice, and the founder of Surviving and Thriving, an organization that draws on Mussar teachings to help parents and grandparents of children with autism. Raised in a Conservative Jewish family, and a member of Germantown Jewish Centre in Philadelphia, Sonia has found that Mussar has not only enlivened her religious and spiritual practice, it has also provided valuable guidance in many other aspects of her life. She has studied Mussar since 2005 with Rabbi Ira Stone. Sonia has her BA from the University of Pennsylvania and her Masters in Social Work from Temple University.

In Memoriam

Linda Kriger studied and practiced Mussar since 2007 and was the founding Chair of CCM. She is a graduate of Connecticut College and the Columbia University School of Journalism. She was a reporter for the Providence Journal (RI) and a medical writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Subsequently, she was a producer with a theater company that produced plays by women about women. She published Gut Feelings: Social and Emotional Struggles with Crohn’s & Colitis, for which she interviewed more than a hundred patients, family members and significant others to discover how people live with the shame and isolation of a disease that can be so difficult to talk about.

Miki Young was a founding member of CCM, which was then called The Mussar Leadership program. She brought a unique background of business acumen and spirituality, having both a Masters in Marketing Communication (Temple University, 1973) and a Masters in Jewish Studies (Gratz College, 2003). As a Mussar student, Miki was committed to both her own practice and to encouraging others to commit. She spoke frequently on ethics, spirituality in the workplace, and social responsibility.