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CAI Leadership

Rabbi Ari Lucas, Senior Rabbi, joined the community as Associate Rabbi in 2018. He is passionate about deep Jewish learning and practice, and enthusiastic about building Jewish community one relationship at a time. Born in Ventnor, NJ and raised in Roslyn, NY, he received his rabbinic ordination in 2012 from the Jewish Theological Seminary, in addition to earning his MA in Talmud and Rabbinics. Rabbi Lucas graduated magna cum laude from Brown University, receiving a BA in International Relations. While at Brown, he served with distinction as Bruno the Bear, the university mascot. Ari is also an alumnus of Solomon Schechter High School of Long Island and Camp Ramah in the Poconos, where he was a camper for eight summers, a staff member for three, and spent an additional five summers on staff of Ramah Israel Seminar. After college, he worked in Congressional politics - first for Congressman Steve Israel (NY-02) in NY, and then for Senator Chuck Schumer (NY) in Washington, DC.
Read From the Desk of Rabbi Ari Lucas Blog

Contact Rabbi Ari Lucas

Cantor Joel Caplan, Cantor, grew up in Iowa City, IA, and has served as CAI’s cantor since 1982. In addition to his many daily responsibilities at CAI, he conducts four CAI choirs, and has led the Kol Dodi Community Jewish Choir (along with Cantor Erica Lippitz), the HaZamir NJ Teen Choir, and the New Jersey Cantors Concert Ensemble. He has created choral arrangements of more than 100 Jewish songs, and has toured Europe and America as part of the Zamir Chorale of Boston. Cantor Caplan was sent by Jewish groups to teach refuseniks in Moscow, and to Israel to raise morale during the Iraqi Scud attacks. He served for several years on the staff of Camp Ramah, the staff of the North American Jewish Choral Festival, and since 1994 has been an instructor at the Jewish Theological Seminary’s H.L. Miller Cantorial School in New York City.
Contact Cantor Joel Caplan

Susan Werk, MA, Education Director, arrived in Caldwell in 1990, a graduate of The State University of New York at Oneonta. Susan received her Master’s Degree in Jewish Education from the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS). Having held leadership roles in the Jewish Education Association’s Principals Forum, the Conservative movement’s Jewish Educational Assembly, and the Coalition for the Advancement of Jewish Education, she took a giant step forward when she received national recognition by winning the most prestigious Covenant Award in 2008, for excellence in Jewish education. In November 2015 she received an honorary Doctor of Pedagogy degree at an academic convocation at the Jewish Theological Seminary. Susan has been a board member of the Golda Och Academy and remains a member of the advisory board of Camp Ramah in the Berkshires. Other awards received are the JEA’s Hoffman Award for her creative God curriculum, the Leo Brody Jewish Communal Service Award for professional excellence given by the New Jersey Association of Jewish Communal Service, B’nai B’rith “Champion of youth” award and the Camp Ramah in the Berkshires’ Ramah Award. Susan is also a faculty member of The Academy of Jewish Religion.
Contact Susan Werk

Rabbi Paula Mack Drill is CAI's Rabbi-in-Residence.

Rabbi Alan Silverstein, PhD, Rabbi Emeritus, has been a religious leader of CAI since 1979. From 1993-1995, he served as president of the International Rabbinical Assembly of the Conservative Movement. From 2000-2005, he was president of the World Council of Conservative/Masorti Synagogues. He served as chair of the Foundation for Masorti Judaism in Israel from 2010-2014. He currently serves as the president of Mercaz Olami. He is the author of It All Begins With A Date: Jewish Concerns About Interdating; Preserving Jewishness In Your Family: Once Intermarriage Has Occurred; as well as Alternative to Assimilation: A Social History of the Reform Movement in American Judaism, 1840-1930.
Read Rabbi Silverstein's Times of Israel Blog
Contact Rabbi Alan Silverstein

Geula Zamist, Early Childhood Center Director, joined CAI in August 2012. She has a BA from Baruch College and a Master's degree in Early Childhood Education from Teachers College at Columbia University. Before coming to CAI, Geula worked as the ECC Director at the Westchester Jewish Center and the ECC Director at Ramaz. Geula is passionate about early childhood education and has been called on to consult for a number of different Jewish institutions around the world. She enjoys getting to know families and working with teachers. She looks forward to getting to know all of the ECC children and providing them with a wonderful education.
Contact Geula Zamist

Debbie Lurie is our Membership Director and a member of our congregation since 2002. Debbie and her family are involved in many areas of synagogue life. Debbie's professional experience in customer service and human resources is a most appreciated quality second only to her love of our community. She looks forward to speaking with you and introducing you to all that is Congregation Agudath Israel, and considers it a privilege and pleasure to establish a relationship with every prospective and new congregant. Tour our building with Debbie, get to know us better. She's got so much to tell you about our community including ways to get involved, study, and meet new friends.
Contact Debbie Lurie

Karen Secular, Development Consultant, joined our team in October 2023. Karen brings to CAI a deep love of Jewish community and passion for helping it thrive. Karen has extensive experience in not-for-profit fundraising. She has worked with Jewish day schools, synagogues, Jewish agencies, arts organizations, and in medical education. Most recently she managed the highly successful legacy program at the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater MetroWest NJ, of which CAI was one of the original partners, guiding organizations to secure almost $33 million in gifts for the future. You may have even heard Karen when she spoke from our bimah about the power of leaving a legacy gift to CAI!

Through the community-wide philanthropic initiative Karen empowered non-profit organizations to secure after-lifetime donations, strengthen their overall fundraising, and deepen relationships with their members and donors. She launched and managed all aspects of the program, including marketing, training, ongoing mentoring, financial reporting, donor stewardship, and developing strategic relationships. Karen is recognized as an expert in training, public speaking, and designing and leading successful events.

A serial volunteer, Karen has recently been involved with Homeless Solutions, Inc. in Morris County, Jewish Service for the Developmentally Disabled, Table of Hope in Morristown, Impact100 Garden State, Interfaith Food Pantry, Community FoodBank of NJ, and the National Council of Jewish Women.

Out of doors Karen grows organic vegetables in a small part of a large, beautiful community garden. She thinks of it as a giant experiment and is thrilled each year to see what emerges (and is edible). This season her favorites are tiny, sweet tomatoes and abundant Swiss Chard. Karen enjoys walks among trees, preferring ones that take her to beautiful vistas. The word from her dinner guests is they look forward to the great meals she prepares!

Karen earned a Master of Business Administration from Boston University Graduate School of Management with a Certificate in Healthcare Management, and an undergraduate degree from Cornell University.
Contact Karen Secular

July 14,2024 /  8 Tammuz 5784