“We had ‘liftoff’ and now we have landed,” said Kol HaLev Rabbi Geoff Basik and congregation co-presidents Dan Richman and Susan Gewirtz in a joint letter to members on Kol HaLev’s recent move.
The Reconstructionist synagogue community, founded in 2007, had its home at Brown Memorial Woodbrook Presbyterian Church in Towson since 2009. But the church, facing dwindling membership, merged with Govans Presbyterian Church and is selling the property. So, Kol HaLev went in search of another location.
The congregation search committee found the best fit for the 100-member shul was Church of the Holy Comforter, about four miles north on West Seminary Avenue in Lutherville. Kol HaLev is now holding all of its Friday and Saturday Shabbat services at CHC with the exception of May 11 and June 8, which will be held at people’s homes.
“We have found a pretty wonderful place. There is great potential to use their historic little chapel and also their sanctuary for High Holy Days and bigger events,” Basik said. “They’ve expressed a willingness to cover their cross in their big sanctuary with a decorative tapestry, so the Jews don’t pray under the cross. So, they’re very accommodating, full of goodwill, full of genuine respect. This is really godly to me — that we all can reach across boundaries for the sake of shared humanity and higher purposes.”
Basik said lay leader Bernie Guyer, chair of the relocation committee, thought CHC a perfect fit because the strategic vision was to stay within the I-83 corridor to serve the Jewish population from Towson to Hunt Valley. He said co-president Richman sees the move as a commitment and contribution to strengthening civic bonds that will have a societal impact.
Basik added that if “this experiment in siblings sharing sacred space works,” both congregations are interested in creating a multifaith center.
“There are four acres there, so should this work, we might even look for a third party, like a Muslim group,” Basik said. “So, we’re all full of visions. But let’s see how it works first.”