Instruction, resources & community for those seeking greater awareness, wisdom, and transformation through the Jewish spiritual path of Mussar.




Photo of Rabbi Avi Fertig
Rabbi Avi Fertig
Director of Mussar

Rabbi Avi Fertig is the Director of Mussar for The Mussar Institute, where he has been guiding courses and programs since 2010. He is the author of Bridging the Gap (Feldheim 2007), a comprehensive guide to important Mussar concepts and lessons from the Talmud and the classical works of the modern Mussar movement, as well as numerous other publications on topics of Mussar. Rabbi Fertig studied at the Ner Israel Yeshiva in Baltimore and has also learned and taught at Yeshivat Neve Zion, Yeshivat Reishit Yerushalayim and the Mir Yeshiva of Jerusalem. Born in the United States, for the past 22 years he has resided in Israel and currently lives in Beit Shemesh with his wife and six children.

Photo of Rivka Felsher
Rivka Felsher
Director of Programming and Administration

Dr. Rivka Felsher serves as Director of Programs at The Mussar Institute after nearly two decades in private and public higher education administration and instruction, private congregational school leadership and instruction, educational consulting, and freelance editing and writing. She has a doctorate in Educational Leadership and is an avid potter. Rivka will be providing support for congregational programs. She resides in Southeast Florida with her husband and two children. Rivka looks forward to embarking on her personal and professional Mussar journey with TMI.

Photo of Rabbi Eric Gurvis
Rabbi Eric Gurvis
Director of Chaverim and Community Engagement

Rabbi Eric Gurvis is a graduate of SUNY-Albany, with a BA in Sociology and Judaic Studies, and was ordained at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York. Eric has served congregations in New York City; Jackson, Mississippi; Teaneck, New Jersey; Newton, Massachusetts; and is currently rabbi of Sha’arei Shalom in Ashland, MA.

In addition to his congregational work, Eric facilitates Mussar groups throughout the greater Boston area and Western Massachusetts. Eric is a Senior Rabbinic Fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem and has trained with The Mussar Institute as a Mussar Va’ad leader. Eric lives in the Greater Boston area with his wife, Laura Kizner Gurvis. Eric and Laura have four children and a 2 ½-year-old grandson in whom they take great delight.

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Debra Pinger
Director of Marketing

Debra Pinger is a Communications and Marketing professional who has held a variety of positions, including Executive Director of the VIA Institute on Character, a positive psychology organization that studies and teaches virtues and character strengths; and Executive Director of RISE Learning Institute, a non-profit organization that generated and distributed distance learning courses for early childhood teachers nation-wide. Recently she was the Communications and Development Director for the Nashville Film Festival. She is a joyous Jew by Choice of many years whose daughter and two granddaughters are also Jewish.

Photo of Joanna Stark
Joanna Stark

Joanna Stark helps coordinate courses and communications in the program area of TMI. With degrees in Public Communication and Sociology, she has an extensive background in marketing, business administration, client relations and sales. She is an active member of her local Jewish Community Center in Southeast Florida and enjoys traveling around the world with her husband and two children.