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CAI Leadership

Rabbi Ari Lucas joined Congregation Agudath Israel 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 poltics - first for Congressman Steve Israel (NY-02) in NY, and then for Senator Chuck Schumer (NY) in Washington, DC. Rabbi Lucas and his wife, Talya, live in West Caldwell, NJ with their three children, Gideon, Shalev, and Reya. 
Contact Rabbi Lucas    Rabbi Lucas: Sermons, Messages and News

Cantor Joel Caplan grew up in Iowa City, IA. In addition to his daily responsibilities at CAI, he conducts the Kol Dodi Community Jewish Choir (along with Cantor Erica Lippitz), as well as the Tov M’od Children’s Choir, the HaZamir NJ Teen Choir, and has served as conductor of 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 Cantorial Training Program in New York City. He and his wife, Nancy, are the proud parents of Ilan, Simona and Tamar. Contact Cantor 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 Education Director, Susan Werk   Werks Words of Wisdom

Rabbi Emeritus Alan Silverstein, PhD has been the religious leader of Congregation Agudath Israel in Caldwell, NJ 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.  
Contact Rabbi Alan Silverstein   Read Rabbi Silverstein's Times of Israel blog

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. 
Geula is proud of all of her children and their many accomplishments and is most honored to carry the title Savta, (grandmother). She looks forward to getting to know all of the ECC children and providing them with a wonderful education. Contact Geula Zamist 973-226-3600 ext. 121

Debbie Lurie is our Membership Coordinator 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. 
     Debbie and her husband David are the proud parents of Sam and Michael. Together, the Lurie family all have found a second home at CAI. Want more information about Congregation Agudath Israel? 
Contact Debbie Lurie. 973-226-3600 ext. 118

October 18,2021 /  12 Cheshvan 5782