A Unique Approach to Jewish Affiliation


Chai Center is thrilled to have wonderful clergy who support us, teach us, and inspire us.  

They are available to our families for officiation at all life cycle events, including B’Nai Mitzvah, baby namings, weddings and funerals. 


Rabbi Joshua Goldstein is Rabbi Emeritus at Temple Sha'arey Shalom in Springfield where he served as spiritual leader for 30 years. He also served as a rabbinic leader at Sha-arey Ha-Yam in Manahawkin. 

Rabbi Goldstein has been active in a number of local and national organizations, including the Rabbinic Cabinet of the Association of Reform Zionists of America (ARZA), the Rabbinic Advisory Committee of Camp Harlam, and the Board of Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). He is a Past President of the Springfield Clergy Association.

He received his undergraduate degree from Temple University, and his rabbinical degree from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. In 2000, he was awarded the Honorary Doctor of Divinity Degree.


Rabbi Goldstein is a warm person with a great sense of humor. His passions run from a love for Israel and books to Tar Heel basketball and a fascination for Africa. He loves teaching all ages, sharing his love for our Jewish heritage and our Jewish homeland. He is married to Sally Reiter Goldstein and has two sons and two granddaughters. 


Rabbi Lois Ruderman has been a part of the Chai Center community since its founding and is thrilled to now be a member of its clergy. 

She most recently served as the rabbi of Temple Micah in Lawrenceville, NJ. 


Rabbi Ruderman received rabbinic ordination from The Academy for Jewish Religion in New York, along with a Masters degree in Jewish Studies from the Academy. Her Masters thesis reflects her commitment to congregational responses to teen and young adult mental health issues. She describes this commitment with the Hebrew words pikuach nefesh - taking every step we can to save a life.

Rabbi Ruderman offers Judaic art workshops and Torah study through Art to the broader community at JCC's, day camps and at many condo communities.  She is a member of the Association of Rabbis and Cantors. 

She calls herself a "singing rabbi" and is proud to serve K'lal Yisrael, the Jewish community, as 'Kol Bo' rabbi, cantor, and Torah reader. 

Rabbi Ruderman is the proud mother of three grown daughters. 


Rabbi Debra Smith (Reb Deb) is the founding rabbi and spiritual leader of Or Ha Lev Jewish Renewal Congregation in Succasunna. She is also a clinical social worker and multicultural family therapist. She has served as director of a private clinical practice, “Human Solutions,” for many years.  

Reb Deb received her rabbinic ordination through the ALEPH Jewish Renewal Rabbinical Seminary. She also holds a Master’s Degree in Jewish Studies from Gratz College in Philadelphia and a Masters in Social Work from Rutgers University.

Her work serving the Jewish community is extensive:  she teaches at several JCC's and synagogues in the area and is on the faculty of ALEPH Tikshoret Connections where she teaches courses in Mussar studies. 

A major focus of Reb Deb’s work is deep ecumenism and multi-faith dialogue. She serves as Rabbi in Residence at the Drew Theological School in Madison; She currently serves as co-chair of the NJ Muslim-Jewish Solidarity Committee and is a co-chair of the Morris County NJ chapter of the Sisterhood of Salaam-Shalom. She is a frequent facilitator of interfaith dialogue work and is a lecturer and teacher at many local mosques and churches.

Reb Deb is a recipient of the prestigious Leo Brody Award, given to an outstanding professional in the field of Jewish Communal Service.  She is a member of OHALAH, Organization of Trans-denominational Rabbis, where she serves on the ethics committee; She is married to Dr. Neil Smith, and is the mother of two grown daughters. 


Steven Dropkin serves as our High Holy Day Cantor.  With his talent and personality, he injects his very special spirituality and sense of comfort into our prayer services.

Steve has been actively involved in Jewish music for over 4 decades and is highly regarded as a major composer of contemporary Jewish music and liturgy.  Steve has recorded 6 albums of original music and many of his songs are considered standards in synagogues, religious schools, and Jewish summer camps.