WHO ARE WE?
Welcome to Twin Cities Mussar, a community of Jewish congregations, organizations and facilitators in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota. Together, we work to provide excellence in Mussar programming and facilitator development. Below is a list of facilitators who help keep Mussar vibrant in the Twin Cities.
Julie Dean is the founder of Twin Cities Mussar and supports the growing citywide Mussar initiatives of Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota. She has been a professional, group facilitator for 30 years and has an MS in Educational Leadership. Julie provides advanced facilitator training and mentorship, leads Mussar groups and workshops and helps form new organizational partnerships all focused on Mussar learning and practice. She is providing advanced facilitator training for The Mussar Institute, was a keynote speaker for their 2022 Mussar Kallah, and is a member of the faculty for the 2023 Mussar Kallah.
Julie is inspired by how people experience positive transformation in their lives and relationships by applying insightful Jewish wisdom to the moments of their daily lives. She credits her own Mussar practice with helping her live a life with greater alignment between her behaviors, attitudes and values, resulting in more joy and connection. Julie has lived in St. Louis Park with her sons and husband since 2012 and enjoys engaging with nature, music and community.
Cantor Audrey Abrams
Cantor Abrams describes Mussar/Tikkun Middot as “walk in the world Judaism” and finds “Mussar moments” everywhere she looks. She has been a facilitator for over seven years and credits this practice for helping her navigate her life with a more open mind and open heart. She is filled with gratitude for being introduced to this practice not just for herself, but also when she hears others talk about how life changing Mussar is for them.
Cantor Audrey Abrams, emerita of Beth El Synagogue, has a B.M. in Music Therapy from Michigan State University and an M.A. in Music Education and Therapy from the University of Minnesota. Her cantorial certification was awarded in 2001 from the American Conference of Cantors. She served Beth El Synagogue for over 30 years; and in retirement is continuing to offer some contemplative opportunities using chant, art, and meditation as alternative doorways into Judaism. Cantor Abrams enjoys walks around the Minneapolis lakes, making art and taking art classes, movies, traveling and the TWINS! Cantor Abrams has two adult daughters, Rachel and Sal, and lives with her husband, David, and their very old cat, Neco.
Rabbi Esther Adler
Rabbi Adler has served as a rabbi at Mount Zion since 2000. She also serves part-time as Associate Chaplain at Hamline University. Rabbi Adler graduated magna cum laude from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1980 with a B.A. in Music. She was ordained as rabbi from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, New York in 1987. She has earned a Masters degree from Yale University in Rabbinic Literature and has knowledge of Hebrew, Aramaic, German, French, and Greek. She received her Doctor of Divinity degree from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 2012.
In the Twin Cities, before coming to Mount Zion, she served as rabbi at the Sholom Homes, interim rabbi at Beth El Synagogue, and interim director of Jewish Life at Minneapolis Jewish Day School. She lives in Saint Paul with her husband Rob Lebowitz. They have five grown children.
Rabbi Tobias Divack Moss
Rabbi Tobias Divack Moss is drawn to Mussar practice and facilitating because it helps him feel a connection between daily living and Jewish wisdom, and links him to a community of mussar-niks who are doing the same.
Many of his passions are expressed through his rabbinate; so you just may see him playing guitar, mandolin, and fiddle, speaking Hebrew, Yiddish, and Spanish, and creating social media content as Rabbi T. His roots are in NYC, but since moving to Minnesota in 2019, he has acquired a Subaru, a canoe, and a dog. In the local Mussar scene, he is best known for the group he facilitates for people in their 20s/30s. The group is open for both returning participants and newcomers.
Rabbi Jason Gary Klein
Jason has been a rabbi for 20 years, is a former president of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, and serves as the director of lifelong learning at Temple Israel Minneapolis. He appreciates the stance of hitlamdut, holy curiosity, that Mussar brings, as well as the importance of balance.
Jason has served in a variety of Jewish, queer and queer-Jewish leadership and teaching roles. He is a former president of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association. Jason is originally from New York City and grew up in New Jersey. He has lived in Minneapolis for the past four years, and enjoys cycling around the lakes. Jason is excited to co-facilitate the pilot of Queer Mussar this fall.
Rabbi Harold Kravitz
Rabbi Harold Kravitz holds the Max Newman Family Chair in Rabbinics at Adath Jeshurun Congregation, Minnetonka, MN. He has served the congregation since 1987 when he was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary. He is President of the Rabbinical Assembly, the more than 1600 member global professional association of the Conservative/Masorti Movement. He served on the RA's Va’ad Hakavod (Professional Ethics Committee) for 18 years and chaired it for six years. He serves on the Rabbinic Advisory Committee of the Center for Contemporary Mussar. He is Past Board Chair of MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger.
Margie began her study and practice of Mussar about 8 years ago. She has been actively engaged in learning and studying Mussar ever since. This past year, she challenged herself by participating in the year-long Mussar facilitator training and mentorship program and then lead her first va'ad. Margie reflects that the practice of Mussar has been and continues to be the starting point for bringing wholeness into the world in which she engages.
Margie grew up in St Paul, Minnesota and has lived in the Twin Cities for over 30 years to be close to family. She currently lives in Mendota Heights with her little Daschund, Zasu. She has had a number of careers including being a hair stylist and an early childhood educator. She is officially retired but still works part time at a local retail boutique.
Barry has lived in Minneapolis for over forty years and believes this to be both a blessing and a curse. He is blessed that his sons and granddaughter live in town; but feels cursed being a die hard Twins fan!
He has been teaching religious school at Shir Tikvah for 26 years and adores the kids. In 2017, he decided to enrich his inner life by joining a Mussar group.
This practice has changed his life. Through studying Jewish character traits and intentionally working on enhancing them, Barry has experienced becoming a better and more joyful person. He cites the Jewish ethic of sharing important teachings with others as a core reason for why he became a facilitator: to help guide others in their journeys with this beautiful Jewish tradition.
Barbara was intrigued by Mussar after reading Everyday Holiness by Alan Morinis, and participated in the first Mussar facilitator training with Julie Dean at Temple Israel in 2018. She has been facilitating at Temple since the fall of that year. She also participates in an Alei Shur class at The Mussar Institute (TMI), does occasional facilitation with TMI and facilitates an ongoing monthly TMI chaverim learning group. She recognizes and appreciates the profound impact that Mussar has had on her inner life and in her relationships. Barbara is originally from the Boston area.
Ofer began studying Mussar in 2019 to explore a new path of spiritual growth in Judaism. The impact on his life was immediate. He has found the practice of Mussar to be a profound personal awakening and a truly transformative and meaningful experience. He reflects that "the work I have done has made me a more mindful and thoughtful husband to my beloved wife, Susan, and a kinder, gentler dad to our amazing daughter Amy."
He is profoundly grateful to all who shared their wisdom with him. Ofer is very excited to help Rabbi Kravitz teach the intro to Mussar class at Adath Jeshuran this Fall and share what he has learned, as the group studies and finds new and unique personal connections with ancient text.
Ruth Hornstein is a Clinical Psychologist with over 30 years of experience working with children, adolescents, and adults with a variety of emotional and behavioral challenges. In recent years, Ruth has integrated her passion for helping people address these challenges with her facilitation of Mussar. Mussar has provided both a gateway into her personal spiritual journey while enabling her to share Judaism’s enduring wisdom through sharing middot (character traits) learning with others.
Ruth is beginning her 5th year of Mussar facilitation at Temple Israel and cherishes the opportunity to guide her va’ad in their personal growth in a positive, safe and nurturing environment. Ruth has lived in the Twin Cities for 30 years and enjoys travel, hiking and spending time with family, friends and her two furry companions.
Lisa is a retired Occupational Therapist with experience in Re-evaluation Counseling and community organizing. As an activist, she led campaigns to address police brutality and protest nuclear armaments. Lisa organized Women Take Back the Night marches and was part of Fan the Flames Feminist Bookstore Collective where she specialized in women's music.
Lisa credits her involvement in Mussar with helping her become more emotionally and spiritually aware. She finds that this allows her to show up with greater intention and compassion for herself and others. Facilitating Mussar groups inspires Lisa to dive deeper into the study and exploration of Mussar text, while weaving women's and queer voices into the narratives. She was born in Minneapolis and returned 25 years ago to raise her 4 children. She now has 7 grandchildren!
Julie Jacobs has a professional background as a psychotherapist and served as an emergency room social worker at Regions Hospital in St. Paul, MN. She began her learning and practice of Mussar seven years ago and has been integrating it into her life ever since.
Julie says that “The study and practice of Mussar, has changed my way of being in the world!” Several key Mussar perspectives guide her everyday life: practicing gratitude, honoring others, and knowing that each person she comes into contact with is a teacher. Julie has been a devoted member of Shir Tikvah for 26 years and finds great joy in living close to her four kids and seven grandchildren. Julie facilitates Mussar groups in order to help people experience the joyful impact of Mussar in their lives.
Hope is an experienced Mussar facilitator and has over 30 years of teaching experience including: high school history and social studies, English and Swedish for immigrants with the Swedish Civil Service Adult Education Institute in Stockhom, and being an adjunct faculty at St. Catherine and St. Thomas Universities. She holds two Master's degrees: one in American History from Northwestern University and one in City & Regional Planning (MCRP), with a concentration in social policy, from Rutgers University.
For Hope, Mussar brings meaning, inspiration, joy, and spiritual grounding into all aspects of her life. Her Mussar teaching is dedicated to the Jewish covenantal obligation to care for the Other—at the individual, community, and societal levels. The goal is to promote a more equitable, peaceful, and sustainable society based on Jewish ethical values, sacred teachings, and practices. She created Edina Neighbors for Affordable Housing and has led this effort for the past five years, in partnership with Jewish Community Action (JCA) and the Suburban Hennepin Housing Coalition.
For 30 years, Laurel Riedel guided women and families through the miracle and mystery of birth as a nurse midwife at Hennepin Medical Center. Being deeply invested in the transitions into and out of life she now helps people write thoughtful Health Care Directives and more importantly to befriend the conversations about the end of life long before we get there.
Over the past five years Laurel has deepened her own Mussar practice and now facilitates Mussar groups. She values creating a safe space to nurture and explore Mussar soul traits. Laurel shares, "Each morning I wake up to my personal Mussar Focus Phrases: 'Joy as an act of resistance' and 'Trust in God but row the boat to shore'. She says that Mussar helps her reach towards her best life, for her own holy soul and for Tikkun Olam. As a facilitator, Laurel invites participants to join her in the personal and communal discovery of our best selves.
Heidi Schneider is a Center for Contemporary Mussar (CCM) certified Madrichah, (facilitator) who was introduced to CCM when Rabbi Ira Stone conducted a Shabbaton at her congregation, Adath Jeshuran, in Minnesota. 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 congregational 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 a reminder 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.
Andrea's passions include being a mother of two adolescent children, a wife, and a lover of horses and music. Professionally, she has nearly 30 years of experience with teaching, facilitating and training educators.
Studying and practicing Mussar has helped Andrea realize the power of her choices in how she interacts and lives her life. She reflects that Mussar "truly has been a positive, grounding experience." As a facilitator, Andrea combines her passion for learning and practice while also sharing her love of Mussar with others. She has lived in the Minneapolis area for the majority of her life and wouldn’t have it any other way!
Liba Zweigbaum Herman
Liba has long been drawn to the transformative power of creative exploration. With a background in Experiential Art and Environmental Education, she first discovered Process Arts while living in Oregon years ago and was deeply captivated by its dynamic and restorative qualities. She later began studying with The Center for Creative Exploration in San Francisco, CA, inspiring her to open Studio INSIDE OUT: An Art Center for Creating and Connecting in St. Louis Park, MN.
Liba is an avid Mussar student and is a recent graduate in the Cultivating a Wise Heart: Mussar Facilitator Training and Mentorship Cohort with Julie Dean. She has worked locally with Courageous HeARTS, Free Arts MN, Minnetonka Center for the Arts, Old Arizona Youth Programs, St. Louis Park Community Education, Sunny Hollow Montessori, Hineni: Center of Jewish Contemplative Studies, Beth El Synagogue, Rimon: MN Jewish Arts Council.
This year Liba will be offering complemntary MussART sessions once a month for the entire Twin Cities Mussar community.
Cultivating a Wise Heart: Mussar Facilitator Training and Mentorship
Julie Dean created this course to guide Mussar facilitators in further developing their craft and small group leadership skills. This course engages the participants in exploring Facilitation as a Mussar Practice and utilizing the language of middot to deepen their work as facilitators. Please contact us for more information!