KHL State of the Union
The story of Kol HaLev began in 2007, when 20 visionary families came together with the passionate and dedicated Geoff Basik, who was completing his studies at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. With Rabbi Basik's ordination, Kol HaLev was born as a dynamic Baltimore-area synagogue. Cantor George Henschel joined the community in 2007 for its first High Holy Days services and soon became our beloved regular Cantor. In 2010, Kol HaLev proudly embraced its identity as a Reconstructionist synagogue.
For nine memorable years, Brown Memorial Woodbrook Presbyterian Church on Charles Street served as our home, where we held Shabbat services, High Holy Day services, and various celebrations, including Pesach Seders, Chanukah festivities, and interfaith activities. However, as the property was put up for sale in 2017, our community embarked on an exciting new chapter.
Determined to find the perfect space, our dedicated members formed a search committee and explored nearly 20 potential locations. The Church of the Holy Comforter (CHC) in Lutherville emerged as the unanimous choice, and we completed our move on June 27, 2018. Now, our Friday and Saturday in- person Shabbat services take place in the beautiful chapel at CHC.
On January 1, 2021, Geoff Basik retired as Rabbi Emeritus of Kol HaLev, leaving a lasting legacy. Meanwhile, Cantor George Henschel has been joined by our soon-to-be-ordained Student Rabbi Emily Stern. They continue to guide our congregation with exceptional leadership and unwavering commitment.
Today, Kol HaLev is a growing community attracting young, diverse families who seek a nurturing environment for raising Jewish children. Our Sunday School has flourished, at times serving over 45 children, and our community has grown increasingly active with Jewish educational programs, weekly Kabbalat Shabbat, a monthly "mindfulness" Shabbat minyan, musical Shabbat Unplugged, book clubs, family gatherings, and much more.
Located in Baltimore County, Kol HaLev is a welcoming and accessible community for both urban and suburban families. Become a part of our inspiring journey by joining us today and experience the warmth, connection, and spiritual growth that Kol HaLev offers.
Our Rabbi, Emily Stern
Rabbi Emily Stern, Student Rabbi
Emily Stern is a Rabbinical Student with the ALEPH Ordination Program with a projected ordination date of January 2024. When asked why she wants to be a Rabbi, Emily becomes exhilarated because being a Rabbi entails offering much of what she loves most in the world.
Emily has a passion for chaplaincy and pastoral care. She trained as a chaplain at John’s Hopkins Hospital and is also currently studying to be a Mashpia, a Jewish spiritual director, through ALEPH. Emily is engaged with both group and individual work.
Emily grew up in a Reform congregation in Long Island, NY. Her undergraduate training comes from New York University’s Tisch school of the Arts where she received her degree in Drama. The creative elements of life continue to be of utmost importance to Emily. You can find her leading writing groups as she loves supporting intimate and individualized connection between Jewish practice and congregants in the most personal ways. She has also written a number of congregational melodies for the KHL community as a member of Shabbat Unplugged, our musical group.
Emily has served Kol HaLev this past year as the creator of Family Programming, and leader of our b’nai mitzvah program with Cantor George. Emily would like to thank Rabbi Steven Silvern for mentoring her so she can support the larger community of KHL through this period of time.
Emily looks forward to building something beautiful together this next year as Kol HaLev continues to find the “voice of its heart.”
Our Cantor, George Henschel
Cantor George Henschel
After serving as a lay cantor in Northern Virginia for over 15 years, George decided to turn this avocation into a vocation. Upon retiring from the government in 2004, he enrolled in the American Seminary for Contemporary Judaism to study with Sol Zim and other known Cantors. He received his Cantorial Certification in May, 2007. He began serving as our Cantor in the same year.
Before becoming a Cantor, George was a synagogue president, taught classes in Hebrew liturgy and music, served as a cantorial soloist and choir member, and participated in a Jewish folk group. Among his other talents, he does English and Hebrew calligraphy, having inscribed many certificates to commemorate baby-namings, B’nei mitzvah, and weddings.
Cantor George is an avid hockey fan, as well as a dedicated cruciverbalist (crossword puzzle aficionado) who has finished as high as second in the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament.
Cantor George and his wife, Ricki, moved to Baltimore in September 2008, but this is not their first connection to this area. Their eldest daughter was married at Westminster Hall in 2006.
Email Cantor Henschel
Cantor George's Reconstructing Judaism Convention Workshops
President: Susan Gewirtz
Treasurer: Laura Reames
Secretary: Ricki Henschel
Ex-officio Board Member:
Student Rabbi Emily Stern
Cantor George Henschel
Our Spiritual Leadership:
Church of the Holy Comforter
KHL and Holy Comforter subscribe to a deep ecumenical relationship. Therefore we share efforts and missions to improve the quality of our worship and our ministry. We strive to reduce food insecurity and to bring comfort to the homeless. Our educational programs are open to the entire community, and we share in social activities.