Kol HaLev Weekly Bulletin

February 20, 2024

A Fragrance-Free Zone

For some of our members with asthma or chemical sensitivities, fragrances can trigger mild to severe reactions, such as headaches and breathing problems. (This is not surprising when one considers that fragrances nowadays are mostly synthetic.) For this reason, just as we do not smoke indoors, we are asking everyone to refrain from wearing fragrances in the CHC chapel, where the airflow is not sufficient to dissipate the fragrance. Thank you for your consideration!

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Purim Extravaganza!

Purim will be here before we know it!  Don't miss out on the fun!  

See the description of our festivities under Save the Date, March 23.

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Rabbi Emily's Installation

Mark your calendars for April 6, 6 pm, for an evening of music, blessings, and the joyful installation of our beloved rabbi, Rabbi Emily Stern. Email invitations will be coming soon.

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Calls for Volunteers

Purim Spiels, Saturday, March 23, during the Shabbat Morning Service and after lunch

Wanted: singers and performers!  Express yourself!  Dazzle the audience!  Contact Elena or Rabbi Emily for the spiel in the CHC chapel and Cantor George for the musical spiel after lunch. 


Rabbi Emily’s Installation, Saturday, April 6, 6-10 pm, CHC Sanctuary and Social Hall

For this very special event, we need help with the following:

To volunteer, please call Stuart Martin at (410) 812-2345 or email him at stuartamartin18@gmail.com.

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This Week


Beginners’ Hebrew Class with Shira

Wednesday, February 21, 6:30–7:30 pm - virtual

Class members will learn biblical Hebrew as well as modern conversational Hebrew. We will gain a deeper understanding of the language of Torah, and gain easier access to the Hebrew blessings and prayers that are included in our Siddur. We will also learn to have basic conversations with each other in modern Hebrew. Please contact Shira for more information and to receive your free Hebrew learning materials. Click here to join our virtual class.


Wednesday, February 21

No Community Gathering This Week

Once a month, R’ Emily leads a spiritual guidance (Hashpa’ah) group instead of the usual community conversation. 

If you’d like to learn about the Hashpa’ah group, please contact R’ Emily.


Service Leadership Workshop with Rabbi Emily

Thursday, February 22, 6:00 pm  - virtual

We are empowering the community to help lead Shabbat prayer services. Service leadership at Kol HaLev can be a creative endeavor to learn about a prayer and decide how you want to present it for the community. Join Rabbi Emily and the group to get feedback on your leadership choices. The members of this workshop have already led several very successful Shabbat morning services. But this group isn’t just for those who are already proficient. Anyone can join any time!


Basketball and Judaism!

Towson vs. Monmouth Basketball Game

Thursday, February 22, 7 pm

TU Arena, 7500 Osler Drive, Towson, MD

Let's show our support for Towson University Hillel and have some fun at a basketball game together! The Silvern/Roberts clan is organizing a group to attend a Towson University basketball game. This is also Jewish Community Night celebrating 25 years of Towson Hillel. The Silvern/Roberts group will be sitting in section 115, rows 7 and 8, and you are welcome to get tickets in the same area. Jamie Aaron, assistant director of Towson University Hillel, who has had a big hand in organizing this, is a good friend from her United Synagogue Youth (USY) director days, and Kol HaLev uses space at Hillel for some of our programming, so our support has layers of meaning.

For directions and parking, click here. For more information, see the flyer below.


Shabbat Unplugged

Friday, February 23, 7:00 pm

CHC Chapel and virtual

This Kabbalat Shabbat service features Kol HaLev’s very own musical ensemble, Kol HaLev Unplugged, with songs and melodies running the gamut from lively and joyful to thoughtful to lyrical.  An experience not to be missed!


Shabbat Morning Service and Torah Reading

Saturday, February 24, 10:00 am

CHC Chapel and virtual

Join Rabbi Emily, Rabbi Steven, and Cantor George in the chapel or online for our Shabbat morning service. Rabbis Emily and Steven will be reading from the Torah, with three aliyot. And, of course, we’ll discuss the reading.

Torah Portion of the Week

Tetzaveh (Second Triennial Cycle) (Exodus 28:31–29:18)

This section contains details about the dress of the Kohanim (priests) and Kohen Gadol (high priest) when they are to engage with the work of the tabernacle, which includes making sacrifices. What they are to wear is detailed and highly important, from their white linen undergarments to their robes. The Kohen Gadol even needs a few extra tools, like a psychic breastplate and his special crown, since he will do work in the holiest sanctum of the tabernacle. These are the clothes that make the priests fit for service. The portion then teaches about the rituals for their installation—the particular animals to offer, and all the associated rituals. These are the rituals that make the priests able to serve. Indeed, for our modern day, we may want to think of our service in the world as holy, and we could treat it as such. May we all have the tools we need, the proper protection, the preparation, and the resources needed to fulfill our particular holy service here and now. And let us say: amen. 


Halachic Discourse

Monday, February 26, 7:00 pm —  virtual

Through our study of minyan, we explore the way we at KHL make decisions in our community using the language of halachic argument. We will learn the historical language of how decisions are usually made, to fully embody our ideal that “the past gets a vote, not a veto.” Join us in learning about halacha and values-based decision making.

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Upcoming Events


Literature at Lunch

Saturday, March 2, after the Shabbat morning service

CHC Library (formerly the Kol HaLev Room)

We’ll have lunch and discuss the Parable of the Rings from Gotthold Ephraim Lessing’s dramatic poem Nathan the Wise (1779). From the 12th century to the 18th to our own time, the Parable shimmers with multiple resonances, like the multicolored light shed by the opal. A PDF of the reading has been sent out by email. 

If you have questions, or you need a hard copy, please contact Jodean.


If you plan to attend, please contact Jodean or Judy so that we know how much lunch to order.


Thread Summit

Saturday, March 2, 1–5 pm

Baltimore Unity Hall, 1505 Eutaw Place, Baltimore, MD 21217

Featuring former NFL player and activist Aaron Maybin and WBAL-TV 11 news anchor Jason Newton, breakout sessions, and mocktails and munchies.   See the description of the Thread program, helping struggling students in Baltimore City, under Community Notes below.


Learn more and register here.


Niggun Circle

Sunday, March 3, 4 pm

CHC Library (formerly the KHL Room)

All are welcome to join in singing these wordless traditional melodies. 

For information, contact Rick.


Annual CHC Blood Drive

Saturday, March 9, 7:45 am – 1 pm

CHC Parish Hall

KHL members are invited to participate.  If you’d like to donate blood, please contact Sandy Benson so that she can schedule a time for you.

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Save the Dates!

Book Discussions about Israel/Palestine

March 9, April 20, May 18

After Shabbat Morning Services with Potluck Lunch

In this three-part series, we’ll consider historical understandings, perspectives on the ongoing Israeli/Palestinian conflict, the relationship (or lack thereof) between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, and frameworks for the future.  We have chosen three books that represent very different viewpoints and personal experiences.  These sessions will be tightly facilitated to provide a safe space to wrestle with what often feels unsolvable while challenging our values and emotions.  


March 9The Question of Palestine by Edward Said, 1979 (updated, 1992)

April 20My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel by Ari Shavit, 2013

May 18The Necessity of Exile: Essays from a Distance by Shaul Magid, 2023


If you have questions, please contact Susan Gewirtz, Claudia Balog, or Ricki Henschel.  

Hope to see you there!

March 9

The Question of Palestine by Edward Said, 1979 (updated, 1992) 

Edward Said, Palestinian by birth (Jerusalem 1935), was educated in elite institutions in the United States and spent his career as a public philosopher and a Professor of Comparative Literature at Columbia University.


From Pankaj Mishra, “The Reorientations of Edward Said,” in the New Yorker , April 19, 2021 (https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2021/04/26/the-reorientations-of-edward-said):


[Said] was frequently attacked from all sides. Palestinians, along with many people in Asia and Africa who were ill-informed about the Holocaust, saw Israel as just another white colonialist power, of the kind that had stolen and occupied the lands of darker-skinned peoples for centuries. But Said infused moral complexity into what he called the “politics of dispossession,” describing Palestinians, often to their outrage, as indirect casualties of unprecedented European crimes against Jews: “victims of victims.” Conversely, he told his American audience that criticism of Zionism should not be equated with anti-Semitism, nor the struggle for Palestinian rights conflated with support for the Saudi royal family and other Arab tyrannies.


April 20

Ari Shavit, My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel, 2013

Winner of the National Jewish Book Award in the category of Jewish history. Ari Shavit is a senior correspondent at Haaretz and a member of its editorial board.


From Leon Wieseltier, “The State of Israel,” in the New York Times, November 21, 2013



It is a Zionist book unblinkered by Zionism. It is about the entirety of the Israeli experience. Shavit is immersed in all of the history of his country. While some of it offends him, none of it is alien to him…


Nowhere is Shavit a stranger in his own land. The naturalness of his identity, the ease with which he travels among his own people, has the paradoxical effect of freeing him for a genuine confrontation with the contradictions and the crimes he discovers… 


 Shavit knows how to express solidarity and criticism simultaneously. He proposes that Zionism was historically miraculous and he proposes that Zionism was historically culpable.


May 18

Shaul Magid, The Necessity of Exile: Essays from a Distance, 2023

Shaul Magid is Professor of Jewish Studies at Dartmouth College, Kogod Senior Research Fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America, Senior Fellow at the Center for the Study of World Religions (CSWR) at Harvard University, and rabbi of the Fire Island Synagogue.


From Publishers Weekly (https://www.publishersweekly.com/9798986780313):


According to the author, “exile” is a spiritual and religious concept rather than a geographic reality (it “results because our Jewish ideal is unrealized anywhere in the world,” in the words of late theologian and rabbi Eugene Borowitz), and the birth of a Zionist nation-state provides a false solution, driving a “proprietary ethos that too easily slides into ethnonational chauvinism.” Instead, Magid proposes a “counter-Zionism” that views the state’s founding ideology as one that’s “both done its work and created damage,” and imagines a state that “protects... the rights, cultures, languages, and religions of all constituencies equally.” In the process, he takes aim at “liberal Zionism,” its “increasingly fantastical” belief in a two-state solution, and its practice of deploying “liberal language... to support an illiberal reality” (for example, framing a scaling-back of the occupation of the West Bank as “a dramatic shrinking of the immoral footprint of the occupation”). Magid’s willingness to broach inconvenient truths is enriched by his deep knowledge of debates around Israeli politics and history. The result is a must-read for those concerned about Israel’s future.


And from Emily Tamkin, “A Plan to Save Israel — by Getting Rid of Zionism,” in the Forward, December 26, 2023 (https://forward.com/opinion/574657/shaul-magid-counter-zionist-israel/):


I hope Jews read this book. I think it will help people navigate thoughts that are perhaps already in mind, but for which they did not have the words. And maybe they’ll agree, and maybe they won’t, but it is useful to be challenged. Some might even call it a necessity.


Purim Festivities!

Saturday, March 23, 10 am – 3 pm

Shabbat Services begin in the CHC Chapel at 10 am.


For our Torah study, we’re putting on a spiel telling the Purim story, directed by Elena Kostakis, Executive Director of The Strand Theater. Performers are needed! Let’s ham it up! Please contact Elena or Rabbi Emily to join the spiel or for more information.


Be sure to come in costume!


After services, we’ll make our way over to the Parish Hall for lunch. For dessert, please bring hamantaschen to share. We’ll be sending a basic recipe that includes an easy dough and ideas for fillings.  And we’ll hold a competition for the most creative filling!  Impress the judges!


Lunch will be followed by a musical spiel with Cantor George. Everyone is welcome to join in and sing the Purim story to popular melodies.


Please RSVP to Rabbi Emily or Judy Gerb if you plan on attending, so we can get a general sense of how many mouths to feed!

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Community Notes

Board Meeting Report

The board met on Sunday, February 18, 2024, approved the January minutes, and discussed welcoming new members, contacting inactive members, grant applications, social justice activities, plans for Purim and for R’ Emily’s installation, our relationships with the Church of the Holy Comforter and Towson Hillel, our financial situation, and potential new programs. The minutes of each board meeting are approved at the next month’s meeting and subsequently posted on the website.


New Members!

We would like to honor Andy Vineberg as a new member of KHL! We look forward to welcoming him to our community. If you see Andy, be sure to introduce yourself!

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Social Justice Notes

Purim Action

If you are interested in supporting Jews United for Justice (JUFJ) in decorating and/or delivering gift bags for mishloach manot to our legislators—state and local—let Ricki know, and she will get you connected. They will be assembling gift bags on Sunday, March 17, and delivering them on Monday the 18th at 3:00 pm in Baltimore, Tuesday the 19th at 11:30 am in Rockville, and Wednesday the 20th at 9:00 am in Annapolis.



Thread is a 20-year-old Baltimore organization building community across lines of difference, one relationship at a time. This program enrolls struggling 9th-grade Baltimore City students for 10 years and surrounds them  with a community of volunteers, with the goal of ending social isolation and building an equitable culture. Interested in learning more about this program and how you might get involved?  There are three ways:  (1) Check out thread.org.  (2) Talk to Toni Pollin, a Kol HaLev member who has been part of Thread for nearly 10 years and was inducted into the Thread Hall of Fame last year.  (3) Attend the public component of the Thread Summit on March 2. See the listing under Upcoming Events.

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The Chesed Network provides an opportunity to show kindness and compassion to those Kol HaLev members in need of support by offering caring, connection, and help. For details and contact information, click here. 

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For more about Kol HaLev, our people, services, programs, and events, check out the updated Kol HaLev website at www.kolhalevmd.org!

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Reading. Please note: what you see on your phone or other device is only about half of the newsletter. Because readers have told us that they don’t want to scroll through large blocks of text on their phones, we generally display only the first few lines of each item in the email, with the option to click through to the website. What you don’t get in the email is the reason, the details, the context, and, often, the contact information. So if you want the full, in-depth, unexpurgated experience, please click through! 

Contributing. The weekly KHL newsletter goes out on Tuesdays. If you’d like to put an item in the newsletter, please clear it with Rabbi Emily and Alan Silver by noon on the previous Sunday. Suitable items include KHL activities, some CHC activities, and events of particular interest in the larger Jewish community. Please provide a complete paragraph (or several paragraphs) with all relevant information. 

As a rule, the KHL newsletter does not reprint content from other sources, whether print or digital.  A summary and a link to the content may be provided instead. If you have material that you think is vitally important to reprint in the KHL newsletter, please provide proof of permission from the author(s) and publisher.  The relevant information on copyright law is available here.

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