Meet Rabbi Debra Smith

Rabbi Debra Smith (“Rabbi Deb”) is the founding rabbi of Or Ha Lev, a Jewish Renewal Congregation in Morris County New Jersey. 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!

Rabbi Deb is a seasoned teacher and educator, a faculty member in the field of Judaic Studies for DOROT: The University Without Walls, in New York City and for the Melton School of MetroWest, New Jersey.

Rabbi Deb has taught youth classes in Jewish life for decades and trained hundreds of young people for bar or bat mitzvah, teaching Torah and Haftarah chanting to both gifted and challenged kids, and making the language of the prayers come alive. She has officiated at many bar and bat mitzvah ceremonies over the years and can help you create yours.

Rabbi Deb served for more than seven years as the Jewish Educator and as a spiritual leader of the Lester Senior Housing Community in Whippany, NJ., and served at the United Jewish Communities of Metro West in Whippany as Program Director for the Hirschhorn Senior Adult Jewish Education Program.

In her role as social work clinician and family therapist, Rabbi Deb served as Director of her private clinical practice “Human Solutions” for more than ten years. She provided counseling to individuals, couples and families, with a focus on interfaith issues and multiculturalism. As a Spiritual Director and Counselor Rabbi Deb draws upon both her secular and religious training to help individuals, families and groups explore their own spiritual journeys and questioning.

Rabbi Deb received semikha (rabbinic ordination) from the Rabbinical Seminary International (NYC) Modern Rabbi Program in 2002. Rabbi Deb completed her Master’s Degree in Jewish Studies from Gratz College in Philadelphia in 2012. She is the 2004 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 Debra Smith is the editor and author of Every Tallit Tells a Tale, the only book ever written about the ritual significance and history of the tallit (prayer shawl). She is a popular workshop presenter and lecturer on more than 50 topics in the field of Jewish Studies.




Rabbi Debra Smith - "Reb Deb"

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
Director and Dean of Ordination Programs
ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal,