SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- Congregation Beth Israel honored Rabbi George Nudell on the occasion of his retirement as spiritual leader of the Scotch Plains synagogue for 35 years. Rabbi Nudell and his wife, Dr. Liba Casson Nudell, were honored during the synagogue’s Friday evening Shabbat service, May 12, and at a dinner celebration, Saturday evening, May 13.
The synagogue was filled to capacity both evenings with congregants and friends who wished to thank the rabbi for his years of leadership and spiritual guidance, and to wish him well in his retirement. Presentations both nights included remarks by current and past synagogue presidents, plus various musical tributes. Rabbi Nudell was even challenged to play a “Jeopardy” quiz game about the 19 synagogue presidents he served with during his tenure. The gala dessert reception Friday evening and the lavish dinner Saturday evening were both catered by Deli King of Clark.
In gratitude for his service to the community, Rabbi Nudell received a Joint Resolution of the New Jersey Senate and General Assembly, and proclamations from: the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders; the Scotch Plains Mayor and Town Council; and the Fanwood Borough Mayor and Town Council.
George Nudell became the rabbi of Congregation Beth Israel in 1982. A native of Minneapolis, he began his career teaching Hebrew and Bible at the Minneapolis Talmud Torah in 1973, before moving to New York four years later to study at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. Rabbi Nudell is a graduate of the College of Education of the University of Minnesota and received a Master’s Degree in Rabbinics and rabbinic ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in 1982. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Seminary in 2007, in gratitude for his years of religious leadership in Conservative Judaism and devotion to the Jewish people. In 2009 he received the Keter Torah Rabbinical Leadership Award, the most prestigious rabbinical award from the New Jersey Region of United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.
Throughout his tenure at Congregation Beth Israel, Rabbi Nudell worked closely with Israel Bonds and the Jewish National Fund. He is co-author of numerous Jewish Family Education programs and while a student at the Seminary, he wrote a history of the Law Committee of the Rabbinical Assembly, There Ought to be a Clearing-house.
A member of the Scotch Plains-Fanwood Ministerial Association for 35 years, Rabbi Nudell served as treasurer and president of the group, helping organize its annual CROP Hunger Walk as well as interfaith services for Thanksgiving and Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day). He and his wife Liba were founding members of the New Jersey chapter of the Spina Bifida Association. Rabbi Nudell served on the Board of Directors of the Children’s Specialized Hospital and as an ethics advisor to the Infant Care Review Committee of Overlook Hospital. He also counseled and advised men facing prostate cancer treatment.
Dr. Liba Casson Nudell played an integral role in synagogue life for 35 years. She was a devoted member of Congregation Beth Israel’s Sisterhood and of Women’s League for Conservative Judaism throughout her tenure. She also led one of Sisterhood’s most popular programs, “Ask the Rebbetzin.” At this year’s annual Sisterhood Shabbat service in January, Liba Nudell was presented with the Ayshet Chayil (woman of valor) award for her years of dedication and service to Congregation Beth Israel’s Sisterhood.
Liba Nudell received her doctorate in Physical Chemistry from Columbia University and had a long career in the field. Her most recent position was Senior Applications Scientist at Horiba Jobin Yvon in Edison. She and Rabbi Nudell have three adult children, Elazar, Yoav, and Talia. After residing in Scotch Plains for 35 years, Liba and George Nudell will retire in July to Minnesota.
“We have been so fortunate that Rabbi Nudell has been our spiritual leader and teacher for 35 years,” said Steve Wiener, President of Congregation Beth Israel. “It is rare for a Rabbi to spend his entire career at one synagogue, but it shows how much our synagogue valued him. Rabbi Nudell presided over the lifecycle events of several generations in our synagogue and touched the lives of so many of our members, young and old, over the years. We are thrilled to celebrate this milestone with him and his family, and we wish him and Liba much happiness in their retirement.”
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. Congregation Beth Israel is located at 18 Shalom Way, Scotch Plains, New Jersey (corner of Martine Avenue).