Professional Staff

Rabbi George Nudell          
Rabbi George Nudell has been the spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Israel since August, 1982.  He was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1953.  After a brief stint as a drummer in a folk-rock group, Rabbi Nudell pleased his mother to no end by cutting his shoulder-length hair, selling his drum set, and graduating from the University of Minnesota with a B.A. in Hebrew. He minored in History and Anti-War protesting.  He also received a B.S. in Secondary Education, and he taught Hebrew and other Jewish studies courses at the Minneapolis Talmud Torah for five years.   Rabbi Nudell moved to New York to begin studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1977. He obtained his Master’s Degree in Rabbinics and was ordained in 1982. He met and married his wife, Linda Casson, also known as “Liba,” who was then completing her doctorate in Physical Chemistry at Columbia University.  Liba currently works as an Applications Scientist at Horiba Industries in Edison.  Rabbi Nudell, by the way, never took Chemistry or Physics, and has no clue what his wife does for a living. Rabbi Nudell is a Past President of the Scotch Plains-Fanwood Ministerial Association.  He and Liba helped to found a local chapter of the Spina Bifida Association, which has grown to become the Spina Bifida Association of the Tri-State Area.  Rabbi Nudell served as an ethics advisor to the Infant Care Review Committee of Overlook Hospital, and has served on the Board of Directors of Children’s Specialized Hospital in Mountainside.A vegetarian since 1971, Rabbi Nudell is an accomplished gourmet cook and baker. He and Liba reside in Scotch Plains and have three children Elazar,  Yoav and Talia. Rabbi Nudell is the author of There Ought to Be a Clearinghouse: A History of the Rabbinical Assembly’s Committee of Jewish Law and Standards, from its inception through 1980.   In 2009 he received the Keter Torah Award from the New Jersey Region of United Synagogue.
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Cantor Matthew Axelrod 
Cantor Matt Axelrod was born and raised in the Boston area, and is a graduate of Brandeis University and The Jewish Theological Seminary. In 1990, while a student at JTS, Cantor Axelrod came to our synagogue as the latest in a long line of student cantors. Upon his graduation in 1993, he stayed as Congregation Beth Israel’s first and only full-time cantor. Cantor Axelrod currently serves on the Executive Council of the Cantors Assembly, and is a past president of its New Jersey Region. He sings with the New Jersey Cantors Concert Ensemble which performs throughout the state, and is the immediate past president of the Scotch Plains-Fanwood Ministerial Association. Cantor Axelrod is the author of Surviving Your Bar/Bat Mitzvah: The Ultimate Insider’s Guide, and Your Guide to the Jewish Holidays: From Shofar to Seder. Matt is also an avid aviation enthusiast and a licensed pilot and flight instructor. He lives in Fanwood with his wife Tali, an elementary school principal, and two sons, Judah and Josh. Matt is proud to maintain his New England heritage by rooting for the Red Sox each year.  

Executive Director Davida Berkowitz
Davida joined Congregation Beth Israel in 2005 as Executive Director. She came to CBI with many years of synagogue administrative experience and a strong background in Conservative Judaism.  She is a native of West Orange, New Jersey. She attended Solomon Schechter Day School of Essex and Union and attended college at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She is responsible for the overall management and day-to-day operations of the synagogue.  Davida lives in Cranford with her husband and their two sons, Daniel and Jeremy.
Gail Beckman Buchbinder

Education Director Gail B. Buchbinder Gail joined CBI in 2014, she has an extensive background in Jewish education. She spent 12 years as  Education Director in Springfield, where she brought technology and creativity into the classroom.  We are excited to have her on board to lead our Religious School, Machon Institute, youth groups and adult education.