“The rabbi who led prayers was outstanding…felt extremely inspired in regard to praying and appreciating the meanings of the prayers and the music.”

— Lay Retreat participant Winter 2012

Mindfulness & Tikkun Middot Project for Jewish Organizations

In 2014-15, the Institute is piloting an innovative community-based national program, funded by a major grant from the John Templeton Foundation, to promote character development through the integration of mindfulness and tikkun middot practice. The Tikkun Middot Project (TMP) supports the ongoing character development of staff and members in 27 Jewish communities led by Institute-trained leaders, through mindfulness practice and tikkun middot, the cultivation of moral traits (such as patience, compassion, trust, and mindful speech).

In addition to working on their own character development, community leaders are strategically infusing middot practice throughout as many facets of their community’s culture as possible. For example, these l are integrating awareness of the middot into worship, adult and children’s education, committee and board meetings, social justice work, and cultural programming.

The project hypothesizes that cultivating community-wide attention to moral traits can transform communities, and aims to have participants report increased:

  • awareness of situations in which they typically react negatively
  • ability to respond to such situations with greater wisdom and compassion
  • experience of their community as modeling positive moral character

According to Craig Joseph, Ph.D., Director of the Templeton Foundation’s Character Development Funding Area, “this innovative program, which integrates the classical Jewish tradition of mussar  with mindfulness practice, exemplifies the John Templeton Foundation’s mission to promote the cultivation of good character and to encourage learning from diverse traditions’ wisdom about virtues and character.”

The TMP is directed by Rabbi Marc Margolius, the Institute’s Director of Hevraya (alumni) Programming. The project utilizes a pilot curriculum authored by Boston-based Rabbi David Jaffe, as well as a parent-child curriculum designed by the late Miki Young, a Philadelphia-based spiritual teacher and educator. Dr. Tobin Belzer of the University of Southern California is evaluating the project; upon its completion at the end of 2015, the Institute will disseminate the results of the project and the curriculum for wider use.

These 27 Jewish communities are participating in the project and were selected through an RFP process:

Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life and the NYU Center for Spiritual Life, New York, New York
Congregation Bet Haverim, Reconstructionist, Atlanta, Georgia
Congregation Beth Israel, Reform, Charlottesville, Virgina
Congregation B’nai Israel, Conservative, Northampton, Massachusetts
Congregation B’nai Jacob, Conservative, Phoenixville, Pennsylvania
Congregation B’nai Keshet, Reconstructionist, Montclair, New Jersey
Chochmat Halev, Renewal, Berkeley, California
Jewish Community Center (JCC) of San Francisco, California
Jewish Theological Seminary, Conservative, New York, New York
Kehillah High School, Palo Alto, California
Temple Tikvah, Reform, New Hyde Park, New York
Tucson Hebrew Academy, K-eighth grade, Tucson, Arizona


Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple, Reform, Beachwood, Ohio

Chicagoland Jewish High School, Chicago, Illinois
Congregation Beth El of the Sudbury River Valley, Reform, Sudbury, Massachusetts
Congregation Beth Evergreen, Reconstructionist, Evergreen, Colorado
Congregation Har HaShem, Reform, Boulder, Colorado
Congregation Sha’ar Zahav, Reform, San Francisco, California
Congregation Shaare Emeth, Reform, St. Louis, Missouri
Jewish Family Services of San Diego, California
Malibu Jewish Center and Synagogue, Reconstructionist, Malibu, California
Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, Wyncote, Pennsylvania
Temple Beth Sholom, Reform, Topeka, Kansas
Temple B’nai Jeshurun, Reform, Short Hills, New Jersey
Temple Ohabei Shalom, Reform, Brookline, Massachusetts
Temple Sholom, Reform, Chicago, Illinois
The New Shul, Independent, Scottsdale, Arizona
Westchester Jewish Community Services, White Plains, New York

The Project’s 10 Middot

Hitlamdut – Openness to Learning
Behira Points – Choice Points
Anavah – Humility
Savlanut and Ka’as – Patience
Hesed – Lovingkindness
Kavod – Respect
Shtika & Shmirat HaLashon – Silence & Thoughtful Speech
Bitachon – Trust in God
Emunah – Trustworthiness
Seder – Order

For more information about the Mindfulness & Tikkun Middot Project, please email Marc@jewishspirituality.org