Rabbi Dr. David S. Bauman
Author David S. Bauman holds a doctorate in Hebrew Letters from Spertus Institute of Jewish Learning and Leadership, a MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from The University of the Cumberlands, and a MA in Educational Administration from New York University, as well as Orthodox rabbinic ordination from Rabbis Zalman Nechemia Goldberg and professor David Weiss – Halivni in Israel. He is the Head of Judaic Studies and Community Engagement at Akiba-Schechter Jewish Day School in Chicago, IL, and the rabbi of Lake Shore Drive Synagogue, a Modern Orthodox Synagogue on Chicago’s Gold Cost.
This book aims to fill that frequent gap, but not through moralizing and abstractions; it is a workbook based on real-life scenarios encountered by adolescents and teenagers around your students’ ages. It is designed to stimulate a young person’s evolving sense of right and wrong through active engagement, developing moral/ethical “muscle memory” through decision-making training. These exercises give them a chance to identify and cultivate virtues – character traits they would like to embody – which they can press into active service whenever the opportunity arises in life. This volume aims to guide and train teenagers to look at life through the lens of Musar and equip them with tools for the future.
“In what can only be described as more of a conversation than a book, Rabbi Bauman engages readers of all ages with real, relatable, and nuanced moral queries. On every page I felt the tension of navigating conflicting midot and values. Rabbi Bauman combines ancient Jewish wisdom and modern philosophy, with artful storytelling. This book can and will serve as a guide for all readers on how to live a fuller, more conscious, and more conscientious, life.”
“Rabbi Bauman presents a rich framework and multiple scenarios that are well suited to help teens integrate the ethical principles of Mussar into their lives. These concepts and this material deserve a prominent place in the education of teens and all Jewish youth.”
“Bauman keenly understands that, just like with yoga or learning to play an instrument, when a person takes on the study of mussar, they must devote themselves to a mussar practice. Only if they consistently train their muscles – whether those muscles be physical or metaphysical, emotional or social – will their “muscle memory” kick in and will they become capable of doing yoga or playing an instrument or behaving the way one should without a huge amount of forethought. Bauman envisions a Jewish educational system that not only intellectually teaches the texts of our people, but makes sure to take the texts to the next level, that of unabashed practice and ma’aseh. And his mussar workbook is uniquely poised to help tweens and teens work through some of the most important issues of their age bracket – those of identity, in the sense of deciding what type of people they are/want to become. Bauman displays an expert knowledge of the wide array of mussar texts from throughout Jewish history, and speaks in a voice that clearly knows how to talk to kids so they will listen and listen so kids will talk. Even more so, he writes in the non-infantilizing fashion that today’s teens deserve, believing that they can understand the import of the journey on which he is inviting them, and that they will grow exponentially from his trust in them that they can successfully take up the challenge of learning to make the right decisions, the Jewish way. Day schools, supplementary schools, and camps would all do well to adopt Bauman’s curriculum.”