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CAI leadership        

Rabbi Alan Silverstein, PhD 

Rabbi Alan Silverstein, PhD has been the religious leader of Congregation Agudath Israel in Caldwell, New Jersey since 1979. From 1993 to 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

Rabbi Ari Lucas - Associate Rabbi

Rabbi Ari Lucas joined Congregation Agudath Israel as its associate rabbi in 2018. He is passionate about deep Jewish learning and practice and is enthusiastic about building jewish community one relationship at a time.

Born in Ventnor, NJ and raised in Roslyn, NY, Rabbi Ari Lucas received his rabbinic ordination in 2012 from the Jewish Theological Seminary in addition to earning as M.A. in Talmud and Rabbinics. Rabbi Lucas graduated magna cum laude from Brown University, receiving a B.A. 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 New York and then for Senator Chuck Schumer (NY) in Washington, DC.

Rabbi Lucas and his wife, Talya, currently 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

Cantor Caplan grew up in Iowa City, Iowa. 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 one hundred 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. Cantor Caplan served for several years on the staff of Camp Ramah as well as the staff of the North American Jewish Choral Festival, and has been, since 1994, 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

Arriving in Caldwell in 1990, Susan is 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, Susan 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


Meryl Natter, our Director of Synagogue Administration, started with the congregation in 2011. She is responsible for the full spectrum of CAI’s management. In this position she is able to fulfill her passion to serve the Jewish community while utilizing her administrative and management skills. 

She is a native of Long Island, NY, and has always been involved in synagogue life. Meryl was a professional singer and dancer for years. She transitioned into administration and sales while working in the garment, restaurant and magazine industries. While raising her children she served as the preschool music teacher at a synagogue in Montclair and as a teacher of Music Together, the internationally acclaimed early childhood music and movement program. Meryl and her two wonderful sons reside in Montclair. The family is active in their synagogue in Bloomfield. 

She is a member of NAASE (North American Association of Synagogue Executives) and NATA (National Association of Temple Administrators).

Contact Meryl Natter. 973-226-3600 ext. 115


Geula Zamist, our Early Childhood Center Director joined CAI in August 2012. She has a BA from Baruch College and a Masters degree in Early Childhood Education from Teachers College at Columbia University.  Before coming to Agudath Israel, 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 Zamist973-226-3600 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


February 17,2020 /  22 Shevat 5780