This is a bitter-sweet moment for all of us here tonight as well as for hundreds of others who could not join us. We formally bid farewell to Rabbi Scott Nagel and the entire Nagel family. It is bitter because we will miss them very much. It is sweet because we know they are beginning a wonderful new chapter in their lives. Rabbi Scott Nagel came here twelve years ago upon being ordained from the Hebrew Union College. When our committee went to New York to interview graduating rabbinic students to replace Rabbi Eric Stark, we immediately knew he was the one. Rabbi Nagel and I fell in love. We have had a “bro-mance” for more than a decade. Just as in a marriage, we have had our ups and downs- but we have always loved each other. We have been great partners, complimenting and pushing one another for the betterment of Oheb Shalom. We never expected the Nagels to stay as long as they did. We thought they would be here five or six years tops. Yet this match was one made in heaven. Rabbi Nagel served Oheb Shalom longer than any other assistant or associate rabbi in our 163 history. Two years ago, the congregation rewarded him with the title “rabbi.” No longer would he have the letters “ass” before his name.
The Nagels grew up here. They arrived when Daniel was just a baby. Three weeks from now we will be celebrating his becoming a bar mitzvah. We have reveled in Lev and Ari’s birth and growth. Rabbi Randi Nagel embraced our Temple family. She is a gifted teacher, preacher and pastor in her own right and has made significant contributions to our synagogue and the entire Jewish community. It is not possible within our limited amount of time to enumerate all of Scott and Randi’s achievements. Let us just say that Oheb Shalom would not be the vibrant, exciting and warm place it is today without them. They have been an integral part of this community. We will certainly not be the same without them.
The family name “Nagel” comes from the German and Yiddish meaning “nail.” This indicates that Scott’s antecedents were probably carpenters. How fitting that his name means “builder.” He led the team that has made our religious school pre-eminent in greater Baltimore. He is the founding father of BEIT-RJ. He has impacted thousands of people and built deep and abiding relationships which will survive time and distance.
My wife, Sally, our Director of Life Long Learning, and I have come up with a little ditty to celebrate this moment:
S is for Scott, a rabbi, teacher, story teller, comedian, engineer, fisherman, actor, pastor, son, brother, husband, and father and good friend.
C is for courageous. Rabbi Nagel has stepped out of his comfort zone and taken us with him to unimaginable heights.
O is for outlandish. He will do almost anything to make us laugh and facilitate our having fun. He believes that Judaism should be joyous and, indeed, it is.
T is for time. Over the last twelve years, he has grown from a young adult into a man. He is now completely ready to be the senior rabbi of a major congregation.
T is for tinkerer. Scott can fix a boat, build a treehouse and heal the human heart. For the last twelve years, he has tinkered with every aspect of our congregational program and our building. He is the only rabbi to have a grasp of our heating, cooling, computer, and sound systems. Wait till he gets his hands on Beth Ahabah’s 112 year old building! He is remarkable man.
N is for the Nagels, the family which is now permanently engraved upon our hearts.
A is for adored. We adore Rabbis Scott and Randi, Daniel, Lev, and Ari.
G is for God. Randi and Scott have brought God into our lives and helped to make God’s presence manifest to us.
E is for excellence. Oheb Shalom rabbis strive for excellence in every way. Rabbis Nagel have never given us anything less than that.
L is for luck, learning, and love. We were very lucky to have the Nagels for these last twelve years. Their passion for Jewish learning is contagious. We are a stronger and more learned congregation because of them. We love them and know they will always love us in return. The people of Richmond will be lucky to have them. Indubitably, they will fall in love with them just as we have.