Changing the World from the Inside Out: A Jewish Path to Personal and Collective Change



Course Description

In collaboration with the Inside Out Wisdom and Action (IOWA) Project, BWC will hold a mussar class this Summer that seeks to explore the integration of Jewish spirituality into our justice works to support them in becoming more sustainable, powerful, and transformative.

Mussar is an ancient Jewish practice of spiritual and ethical reflection, development, and meditation. It is an ethical system that shaped the lives of fore mothers such as Gl├╝ckel of Hameln (author of one of the earliest Yiddish memoirs we know of, from the 1600s), draws on teachings from Rabbi Saadiah Gaon and Rabbi Bahya Ibn Pakudah from modern day Iraq and Spain, and became an educational movement in 19th century Lithuania.

Rabbi Israel Salanter of Lithuania once said:

When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world. But I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my country. When I found I couldn’t change my country, I began to focus on my town. However, I discovered that I couldn’t change the town, and so as I grew older, I tried to change my family. Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, but I’ve come to recognize that if long ago I had started with myself, then I could have made an impact on my family. And, my family and I could have made an impact on our town. And that, in turn, could have changed the country and we could all indeed have changed the world.

What's the relationship between individual and systemic change? How can you stay grounded for the long haul that both kinds of change require? What kind of change work are you called to do in this world? How can you show up as your best self while doing the work?

Over the course of four sessions, we will explore these questions and more. Through personal and small group reflection, text study and practice, we will explore the topics of motivation, choice, gratitude and rest. Together, we will integrate personal practice with our work for communal and social change.

Instructor Bio: Rabbi Alex Weissman

Ordained in 2017 at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, Alex has served in various capacities with communities and organizations like JOIN for Justice, Avodah, Brandeis Reconstructionist Organization, Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, Temple Shalom of Newton, Wissahickon Hospice, Hebrew SeniorLife, T'ruah, and Philadelphians Organized to Witness Empower and Rebuild. Prior to rabbinical school, Alex served as the Social Justice Coordinator at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah and worked as a researcher, educator, and counselor in various LGBTQ public health organizations working on issues of HIV/AIDS, substance use, and partner abuse.

He is a lover of Talmud, mussar, theology, and community organizing. In his spare time, he enjoys cooking, reading, trapeze, and keeping up with his three brothers in Philadelphia, Boston, and Be'er Sheva. Alex lives in Providence with his husband Adam.

Course Dates (all sessions are 7-9pm):

Session 1: 6/25

Session 2: 7/2

Session 3: 7/10

Session 4: 8/6

Course Location: Member home in Jamaica Plain (will be sent address upon registering)

Registration Cost: $60 - $120 (includes all 4 sessions)

To facilitate active discussion and because of space constraints, this course is limited to 15 participants and is only open to BWC members. June is BWC's membership month - your membership helps to sustsain our secular activist community and classes like this! Membership is sliding scale starting at $36 for the year - click here to join or renew. Not sure about your membership status? Email Michelle.



For anyone who cannot make the Summer dates, we will offer the same class again in the Fall.