Religions and Spirituality

Chai Center Celebrates First Anniversary



​BASKING RIDGE, NJ - Chai Center for Jewish Life will celebrate its one-year anniversary on June 13 at a Shabbat Service held at The Hills Clubhouse, 75 Hansom Road, Basking Ridge. Rabbi Joshua Goldstein and Cantor Shana Onigman will lead the service beginning at 7 p.m. The community is invited to attend the service and following oneg Shabbat.
Two tenth grade students, Molly Shulan of Warren and Eli Horowitz of Basking Ridge, will also be confirmed that evening.  Shulan is a student at Watchung Hills Regional High School and Horowitz attends Ridge High.  Both participated in a variety of volunteer activities, including providing and serving food at the Bound Brook Soup Kitchen.
​According to Executive Director Sharon Friedman, “Chai Center’s first year has been amazing!  We have created a vibrant and affordable Jewish option.  We have an inclusionary membership of 65 families, who determine their own level of financial support.”  
“The Chai Center works to address the divergent needs of all it supporters, including children through empty nester,” added Wendy Piller, Chai Center President. “However, one of our greatest jewels is our religious school. Under the directorship of Sharon Friedman, we have created a school where students forget they are in school and think they are in summer camp.”

​The Chai Center Learning Center has a “top level, informal, camp-style Sunday learning program.  Students love attending and don’t want to miss a session,” Piller continued. “We expect the program to grow and expand next year.”
​Chai Center has weekly Shabbat morning worship services and study, and warm and meaningful High Holiday Day services, which last year were attended by over 250 people.  “Jewish holidays and festivals, including Sukkot, Chanukah, and Purim  were celebrated as a community,” she added.
​“Chai Center has a caring community that has provided support in times of celebration (it’s first Bat Mitzvah took place in February) and in times of need, providing shiva minyans, and assistance during illness,” continued Friedman.
​On-going social action projects include providing food for the Bound Brook Soup Kitchen, aiding the Autism Think Tank, and conducting Friday afternoon services at Arbor Glen Assisted Living Facility.
​Social and learning opportunities have included a monthly book club, lectures, presentations, theater trips, and a NYC walking tour.  A highlight was the presentation of Harry Etlinger, an original “Monuments Man.” 
​Chai Center is a new community formed to provide an affordable center for multi-generational learning, celebration, and worship. The Center is not affiliated with any Jewish movement, but is progressive and egalitarian in its approach to Judaism. Additional information on Chai Center may be found on the website, or email

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