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Rabbi Emeritus Geoff Basik

 
Geoff Basik, became Rabbi Emeritus of Kol HaLev on January 1, 2021. As the founding rabbi of the Kol HaLev Synagogue Community, he is a 2007 graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.  Geoff spent ten years at the Center for Jewish Education in Baltimore where he taught, organized community programs, and led trips to Poland and Israel.  The rabbinate was a natural extension of his interest in religious thought and experience, the exploration of our interior lives, his delight in teaching, and his interpersonal skills.  He is a bridge to Jewish wisdom, practices, and values in the context of modernity. 
Rabbi Geoff is a warm and inclusive spiritual leader and partner for those who wish to explore Jewish resources for a life of inquiry, meaning, community, and ethical action in the world.
Rabbi Geoff was born and raised in Baltimore, leaving after high school to begin his own journey with an undergraduate degree in Comparative Religion that included Jewish Studies.  He lived in Israel for two years, and then earned a Master’s degree in International Relations and Middle East Studies from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC.  Along the way, Rabbi Geoff has been involved with a number of extra-curricular pursuits, including the Alternatives to Violence Program in the prison system and The Mankind Project.                              
Rabbi Geoff’s personal life revolves around his wife of over 30 years (artist and art educator Donna Basik) and their two daughters, son-in-law, and grandchildren, plus the family dog and the practices of meditation, yoga, baseball, and golf.   

 

 
View Our Special Evening with Rabbi Geoff
Our evening to honor Rabbi Geoff's retirement was definitely a success! It was a lovely time of sharing for Rabbi Geoff and for the many members of our Kol HaLev family who were in attendance. The one-hour program included Rabbi Geoff blessing our congregation, a
video which included photos and footage of special memories with Rabbi Geoff through the years (which KHL congregants provided and which Steven Silvern put together for us), and Cantor George singing 'V’asu Li Mikdash'  (Lord, make me a sanctuary) an original composition he created to honor Rabbi's retirement.  If you were unable to attend, you can still share the experience by clicking here to view the program.  
We will miss our beloved Rabbi Geoff Basik, and we send with him our very best wishes for a healthy, happy, and blessed future!  And all of the people said "Amein!"
 

Rabbi Geoff's Trip to the Memorial for the
Most Reverend Archbishop Desmond Tutu
 
I have come to know something I hadn’t before. For most of my years I have thought about the “Glory of God,” in accordance with my habit of being in my head — how interesting this word “kavod” (glory, honor) is, how many nuances one can glean from the root K-B-D, what (intellectual) meaning we can make of it. It was an object of study and thinking, not part of my/our religious language. But the “Glory of God” is an experience! Full bodied and filling, fully alive in all our potential. Uplift and transcendence. I have occasionally tasted such a thing, but I called it “awe.” Awe is, well, awesome, but the kavod of God is what awe points to, or what’s behind it. It’s the reason for the awesomeness. Let me share with you my latest felt encounter with the “Glory of God.” And I do so because it is relevant to the larger Kol haLev project.
As soon as I received the request, through a text message from Rector Christ Tang of Holy Comforter, to offer a Jewish prayer at the Memorial for the Most Reverend Archbishop Desmond Tutu at the Cathedral of the Church of St. John the Divine in New York, I felt it. Whoosh! I felt it. By invoking the memory of Tutu, by the opportunity to honor this heroic figure of our time, I was taken with the actual presence of Godliness (yes, I’m still a Reconstructionist). Call it “inspiration,” perhaps. But more than that. It was Presence.
I thought to myself, “So this is what ‘May his/her memory be for a blessing’ means.” This opportunity to recall and honor this person filled me with the messages of Truth and Reconciliation, Love…and of course, Tutu’s endearing and infectious smile and laughter and compassion. For Desmond Tutu was so much bigger than his particularity; he manifested the larger vision of humanity connected to Godliness. He brought Godliness to us, and he was bringing me to Godliness.
Despite — or maybe even because of — the refusal of other rabbis, I wanted to step up and participate. In some Jewish quarters Tutu is not appreciated because of his views on Israel’s political and military and legal regime, which he long ago likened to “apartheid.” To my way of thinking, we have much soul-searching to do as we face this shadow. (And face it we must.) I stand with Tutu and Torah principles.
[By the way, in his sermon at the Memorial service, the amazing Presiding Bishop Michael Curry had Jesus looking into the Torah (yes, he used that word) for his answers and teachings!]
So in my “retirement” (though not inactivity), I found myself among the representatives of different faiths, garbed in my kippah and tallit, singing “El maleh rachamim” (“God full of mercy…”), commending Tutu’s spirit to the embrace of God at the awe-inspiring Cathedral of St. John the Divine. It blows my mind just thinking about it: little, old me (both literally and figuratively) filling the largest Gothic cathedral in the country with Hebrew chant. There was much speechifying — by the South African ambassador, the president of the UN General Assembly, former Representative Charlie Rangel. And there was a beautiful choir. And I was there, bringing you all with me. At least, our corner of the Jewish world.
The cathedral itself is awesome, a wonder, something to behold. But the interfaith gathering to remember and honor Archbishop Tutu was a “glory” moment.
 
 
 
Tue, September 27 2022 2 Tishrei 5783