Interfaith Committee


West Essex Ministerial Association [WEMA]

Every month, CAI's Rabbi Alan Silverstein joins in fellowship for a lunch meeting and camaraderie with all of the local Christian clergy in our area of West Essex. Represented are the spiritual leaders of CAI, Notre Dame Roman Catholic Church [North Caldwell], First Presbyterian Church [Caldwell], St Al's Roman Catholic Church [Caldwell], St Peter's Episcopal Church [Essex Fells], United Methodist Church [Caldwell], Blessed Sacrament Roman Catholic Church [Roseland], United Methodist Church [Roseland], Roseland Presbyterian Church and West Caldwell Presbyterian Church. Rabbi Silverstein has served as Chair of WEMA and is currently co-chair along with Father Anthony Randazzo of Notre Dame Roman Catholic Parish.

WEMA's main annual public event is the community-wide Thanksgiving Inter-Religious Service, taking place at rotating locations within the Caldwells. CAI Cantor Joel Caplan assists with the evening's Multi-Faith Choir of Adults and brings CAI's Youth Choir to perform. CAI Educational Director Susan Werk coordinates programming for children. WEMA also coordinates support by CAI and local churches for the Caldwell Food Bank, and for the Area-Wide Foodbank in Hillside. WEMA brings the civic community together during times of celebration and of crisis, as occurred with the community-wide memorial service following the tragic events of 9/11. WEMA also has coordinated "Spiritual Book Discussions", Clergy Panel Discussions and Film Reviews. The newest project is to bring a major academic scholar-in-residence for an entire weekend of four public lectures. The initial scholar was Professor Amy Jill Levine of Vanderbilt Divinity School in 2012, with lectures at CAI, First Presbyterian Church [Caldwell] and Notre Dame Roman Catholic Church [North Caldwell]. In 2013, Professors Lawrence Schiffman, Yeshiva University, and James VanderKam, Notre Dame, lectured throughout the community.

WEMA also coordinates Jewish-Christian-Moslem Dialogue luncheons involving The Peace Island Institute (Turkish Moslem group). WEMA has enabled CAI along with the churches to work together in forming an Employment Network for the unemployed, during the economic dislocations that began in 2007. WEMA has worked with CAI and the churches in serving the needs of senior citizens through a joint project [with Jewish Family Service of the MetroWest United Jewish Communities and the State of New Jersey] titled "CALDWELL LIVE" in a civic effort to enable residents "to age in place."

April 24,2017 /  28 Nisan 5777