Frequently Asked Questions

We hope these FAQs will be helpful to you – and please feel free to contact us with your own!

What is the essence of the CCM program?

In a small group format, the CCM program builds skills that will transform your relationships, beginning with those closest to you. Our goal is to help participants make “Love your neighbor as yourself” a cornerstone of those relationships.

How is your program different from other Mussar programs?

CCM’s program has a dual focus on self and other, while other Mussar programs tend to have a greater focus on oneself. Also, we work on the premise that to truly change attitudes and behaviors requires daily practice.

What’s the best level for me?

Our students all begin at the same level of instruction; the only distinction is that we place rabbis and cantors into a class of their own, but they, too, are beginners when they start.

Do I have to be Jewish to participate?

You do not have to be Jewish to enroll in our program; many non-Jews have successfully completed our four-year track.

Do I have to believe in God?

You do not. CCM’s approach encourages each student to form her or his own spiritual vocabulary.

Do I have to practice traditional Judaism?

You do not, though we encourage the performance of Jewish practices known as mitzvot (literally, commandments), which serve as wake-up calls in your Mussar practice.

Do I have to know Hebrew?

You do not. We teach students a small vocabulary of Hebrew words related to Mussar and it is certainly helpful to be open to learning these terms.

What are middot?

Middot are qualities of character that students study and practice.

What is a madrich/a?

The madrich/a is your teacher, who will guide you through the phases and steps of our program.

What is a va'ad?

A va’ad is a council of peer learners; it is a traditional name for a Mussar class.

Is the va'ad group therapy?

We are not a therapeutic program. We hope that our students have done what we call “pre-Mussar work,” which enables them to build a strong enough ego to take another person’s burden into consideration. Our work together in a va’ad follows strict protocols that create a safe container for participants to share vulnerability with one another. The feedback that fellow participants give is about themselves and the impact on themselves of the situation presented. If you would like more clarification, please speak to the madrich/a, with whom you are planning to study.

 

Are the groups confidential?

At the beginning of each semester, a strict agreement is made about confidentiality in the va’ad. To talk to a fellow student about something they shared in va’ad, you must ask and receive that person’s permission to discuss it.

Are CCM groups LGBTQ+ friendly?

For sure….We are not concerned with whom you love – but how well you love them.

How much time is required each week?

We estimate that you will invest 4-5 hours per week, including class time.

When do courses start? How long are they?

Most courses are 13 weeks, the equivalent of a college semester. They tend to run from September to December and February to May. Students re-enroll at the beginning of each semester.

How much do the courses cost?

The fee for a 13-week semester is currently set at $325.

Do you have a sliding scale or scholarship program?

If you would like to participate in a class, but finances are a barrier, CCM can offer you a payment plan. Partial scholarships will also be available on a limited basis. Please contact treasurer@contemporarymussar.org to discuss a payment plan or apply for a scholarship.

 

What is your payment and refund policy?
All fees must be paid in full before the first class, preferably through PayPal, unless a payment plan has been arranged in advance. (Contact treasurer@contemporarymussar.org to arrange for a payment plan.) An 80% refund will be issued if you withdraw before the 3rd class; no refunds will be issued after that time.
How can I find out more about CCM's programs?

We welcome your questions — feel free to contact us at any time!

To stay current on CCM’s offerings, please sign up for occasional email updates in the footer below.

Rabbi Salanter, founder of the Mussar movement, used to supervise the baking of matzot in his town to make sure that all the laws were faithfully observed. But one year, he was ill, and some of his students volunteered to supervise. They asked him what they should watch for.

He replied, “See that the women who bake the matzot are well paid.” He also told them to be extremely careful not to upset the woman who kneaded the dough and not to rush her, for she was a widow and needed their compassion.