Rabbi Debra Smith (“Reb Deb”) is the founder and spiritual leader of the Or ha Lev Jewish Renewal Community in Morris County, NJ. Or ha Lev meets for services that are musical and personal, blending traditional prayers and contemporary approaches in ways that delight everyone- elders and youngsters, and all in between! Reb Deb is also part of the rabbinic leadership team at the Chai Center for Jewish Life, a Reform congregation in Watchung, NJ.
Reb Deb is also a seasoned clinical social worker and marriage and family therapist. As Director of her private clinical practice, “Human Solutions,” Reb Deb provided counseling to individuals, couples and families, with a focus on interfaith issues and multiculturalism. Currently, as a Spiritual Director and Counselor, Reb Deb draws upon both her secular and religious training to help individuals, families and groups explore their own spiritual journeys.
A major focus of Reb Deb’s work is in multi-faith education and outreach. She works with a multi-faith team, including a Christian and a Muslim, providing educational programs to build bridges of understanding among faith traditions. She is a co-leader of the Morris County, NJ Chapter1 of the Sisterhood of Salaam-Shalom.
Reb Deb is an author and the editor of four Jewish-themed books. Every Tallit Tells a Tale (2005) is a collection of seventy five stories about the tallit (Jewish prayer shawl) written by contributors across the USA and in Israel (2005). Words from the Heart: Multi-faith Prayers, Poems and Blessings (2020) and its newly released sequel, Fractured Hearts: Multi-faith Words of Hope and Healing (2021), both contain contributions from more than 50 authors from across the faith spectrum on a variety of topics. Heart Whispers: Sharing Reflections with G-d (2021), is a newly release collection of Reb Deb’s own poems and prayers.
Reb Deb is a seasoned teacher and educator, a faculty member in the Judaic Studies department for DOROT: The University Without Walls, in New York City and is also a faculty member at Tikshoret, the Continuing Education program of ALEPH: The Alliance for Jewish Renewal. She is a faculty member at the Aleph Ordination Program, where she teaches Pastoral Counseling and Clergy Ethics.
Reb Deb has taught Hebrew school for decades and trained several hundred young people for Bar or Bat Mitzvah, teaching Torah and Haftarah chanting and Jewish prayers to both gifted and also to learning- challenged students. She has officiated at many Bar and Bat Mitzvah ceremonies over the years and can help you create a unique and personal ceremony for your child.
Reb Deb received rabbinic ordination (Smicha) from the Aleph Ordination Program of the Jewish Renewal Movement (2016). She completed her Master’s Degree in Jewish Studies from Gratz College in Philadelphia (with highest honors, 2012). She is the recipient of the prestigious New Jersey Association of Communal Service Leo Brody Award, given to her for her “demonstrated professional excellence, personal commitment to Jewish values and exceptional leadership skills.”
Rabbi Deb Smith is a dynamic spiritual leader, Jewish educator, life cycle officiant and family therapist, who saw a need for a place that modern Jews and seekers of all backgrounds could come to share Joyous Judaism, a way of engaging Jewish living and learning that is contemporary, meaningful, fun, compassionate, relevant and, well, joyous!
Rabbi Marcia Prager
Former Director and Dean Emerita of ALEPH Ordination Programs
ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal