SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- Congregation Beth Israel (18 Shalom Way, Scotch Plains) will hold its annual Sisterhood Shabbat service on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017 at 9:30 a.m. This women-led service is free and open to the community. A kiddush luncheon will follow. 

The Sisterhood Shabbat service is led exclusively by lay women, who recite Hebrew and English prayers, chant Torah and Haftorah, and deliver a d’var Torah (lesson) about the week’s Torah portion.  Even though women participate regularly in Congregation Beth Israel’s egalitarian services, Sisterhood Shabbat is a unique time set aside to recognize its women members, providing encouragement and opportunities for women to participate in all aspects of the service in ways they feel most comfortable.  The theme for this year’s Sisterhood Shabbat is P’ri Yadehah, the fruit of her hands, because the service celebrates the good deeds planted and nurtured by its women.

Congregation Beth Israel’s Sisterhood is a member of Women’s League for Conservative Judaism, the largest synagogue-based women’s organization worldwide. Conservative Jewish synagogues around the world celebrate Sisterhood Shabbat in January.

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“Sisterhood Shabbat is such a special service for women of all ages.  Some women gain the confidence to break out of their comfort zones and take on a new part in the service, while others simply enjoy coming to the service and praying with their fellow sisters,”  said Marcia Wiener, president of Congregation Beth Israel’s Sisterhood.  “The best part is seeing the smiles and hugs at the end because the women take such pride in their accomplishments and feel such joy of belonging.” 

Each year, Congregation Beth Israel honors a woman or women as an Ayshet Chayil (woman of valor) at Sisterhood Shabbat.  This year, Liba Nudell and Diana Cooper will be presented with the Ayshet Chayil award. Liba and her husband, Rabbi George Nudell, have been Rabbi and Rebbetzin of the congregation for 35 years, and will be retiring this summer.  Liba has been a devoted member of Congregation Beth Israel’s Sisterhood and of Women’s League for Conservative Judaism throughout her tenure.  She is Senior Applications Scientist at Horiba Jobin Yvon in Edison and lives with her husband in Scotch Plains.  Diana Cooper, a past-president of Congregation Beth Israel’s Sisterhood, teaches pre-school at the JCC of Central NJ.

“I am so excited to be able to present the Ayshet Chayil award to Liba and Diana this year,” said Marcia Wiener.  “They are both so deserving of this honor in very different capacities.  There was a lot of cheering among Sisterhood members when this year’s honorees were announced.”

Congregation Beth Israel is an egalitarian Conservative synagogue, serving the religious, cultural, educational and social needs of congregants from Scotch Plains, Fanwood, Westfield and surrounding towns.  It has been recognized as an ABLE Awarded Congregation by the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest for its commitment to inclusion and accommodation for all its members. Congregation Beth Israel is located at 18 Shalom Way (corner of Martine Avenue) in Scotch Plains.  For more information, contact the synagogue office at (908) 889-1830.