RI Jewish Alliance hosting character development course

Character development program to be held
at Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island, March-June, 2022

Providence’s Congregation Beth Sholom, Core Connects Rhode Island, the Jewish Community Day School of Rhode Island, Providence’s Temple Beth-El, and Providence’s Temple Emanu-El are collaborating to offer a 12-week in-person program: “Spiritual Accounting: Benjamin Franklin and Rabbi Mendel Lefin’s Course of Character Development.”

Taught by Providence’s Rabbi Eliahu Klein, a musar (practical Jewish ethics) instructor and the author of Meetings with Remarkable Souls: Legends of the Baal Shem Tov, this program is funded through a grant from the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island and free for all participants.

In this program, a small group of up to 15 Jewish adults from across the religious and communal spectra in the Greater Rhode Island area will embark together on the course of reflection and character improvement outlined by Benjamin Franklin in his 18th-century autobiography and later presented in a Jewish context by Rabbi Menahem Mendel Lefin in his 1808 musar work, Sefer Heshbon Ha-Nefesh (Book of Spiritual Accounting).

With in-depth textual study and close-knit, pluralistic community building, this program involves significant time commitment (12 in-person meetings, as well as reading and journaling at home) from participants, who it is hoped will return to their organizations, synagogues, and homes with a fresh Jewish religious and communal perspective that they can share with others.

12 in-person meetings will take place on Sunday mornings from 10:15-11:45 AM, beginning March 13 and concluding June 26, 2022. (There will be no meetings on April 17, May 8, May 29, or June 5 due to Jewish and secular holidays.) The meetings will be held in the board room of the Jewish Alliance, 401 Elmgrove Avenue, Providence, RI 02906.

For more information and to apply to this fully funded program, contact Shai Afsai at or visit

About the Author
Shai Afsai ( lives in Providence, Rhode Island. In addition to fiction and poetry, his recent writing has focused on the works of Thomas Paine, Zionist historiography, Jews and Freemasonry, Benjamin Franklin’s influence on Jewish thought and practice, religious traditions of the Beta Yisrael Jewish community from Ethiopia, Jewish observance and identity in Nigeria, aliyah to Israel from Rhode Island, Jewish pilgrimage to Ukraine, Jewish-Polish relations, Jews and Irish literature, and Judaism in Northern Ireland.
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