Our Vaad
By Sonia Voynow

Aristotle has said that the whole is much more than the sum of its parts. And when I think about our wonderful va’ad, I am struck by the truth of that statement.

Our six va’ad members brought with them a remarkable array of gifts, including the courage to ask questions that brought the text alive, Torah study that yielded wonderful d’vars, exquisite singing that opened and closed each session, and a qi gong practice that refreshed us during long Zoom sessions. But of all the gifts our group members brought, the most important one was the ability to be honest, and even vulnerable, with one another.

The group became a place where each member not only felt seen and appreciated, but drew inspiration from one another. When we had to switch from in-person to Zoom, I was concerned that we would lose a sense of connection. But even when we appeared in our little video squares, you could still feel the unflagging support the members had for one another.

I feel privileged to have accompanied this remarkable group on this part of their Mussar journey.

Andrea Leerman spent most of her professional life teaching, developing, and managing educational programs for youth and adults, and facilitating personal growth workshops.  More recently, she’s been devoting her time to deepening connections with family & dear friends, pursuing interests in lifelong learning, travel, poetry & film and visiting CT as often as possible to soak up the joy of being Jude & Joey’s “Mom mom.” Andrea is a student at heart; she seeks out meaningful experiences and tries to laugh as much as possible. 

“I’ve been blessed to study Mussar with an extraordinary teacher, Sonia Voynow, and a group of fellow-seekers. Humility and patience are the two middot that have been most significant for me at this point in my life.  And both are works in progress.”

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.

Ruth Stolz’s Mussar journey has been one of profound gratitude for her beloved Va’ad and cherished Madrichah Sonia Voynow, as well as for the gifts of Jewish tradition, past and present. Ruth recalled how Sonia created a safe, sacred space for all to grow as individuals and as a Va’ad. She feels blessed by all the kindness and compassion, the patience and understanding, the insight and wisdom of the Va’ad and their Guide.


“Special thanks go to my chevruta partner Jake Kriger for his open heart and shining spirit. I’m so grateful to Rabbi Ira Stone and Dr. Beulah Trey for lighting the path for us. One of the foundational middot for me is Chesed – lovingkindness.”

Also treasured members of this Va’ad:

Jessica Lennick (not shown)


Jake Kriger (shown here with Madrichah Sonia Voynow)



Moon Smith (shown here with Madrichah Sonia Voynow)