Clergy

Rabbi Barry Kenter

Cantor Bruce Halev

A native Californian, Rabbi Barry Kenter was awarded a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from California State University at Northridge, along with a Standard Secondary Teaching Credential. He was a Rotary Foundation Graduate Fellow at the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium where he was awarded both first and second licenses with distinction, the first in Political Science; the second in International Relations and Comparative Political Science. He holds a Bachelor of Hebrew Literature degree from the University of Judaism and Master of Arts degree from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, which ordained him in 1980. In June 2011, he was inducted as one of 25 fellow 2011 class of GreenFaith Fellows. GreenFaith, an interfaith organization, believes that the world's great religions see the sacred in nature and teach respect for the earth. Rabbi Kenter returned to the Seminary several years ago and was awarded a Doctor of Hebrew Literature degree in Medieval Jewish Studies in May, 2014.

Prior to joining Congregation Habonim, Rabbi Kenter was rabbi of the Greenburgh Hebrew Center, Dobbs Ferry, New York from 1984 to 2015. Prior to serving his congregation in Dobbs Ferry, Rabbi Kenter served as assistant rabbi of Adath Israel Congregation, Downsview, Ontario, Canada. He has been honored by the Jewish Theological Seminary with a Rabbinical Service Award and by the Jewish Education Fund with the Jack Sonkin Memorial Award. He has also served the World Council of Synagogues as a weekend rabbi-in-residence for a newly-created Conservative congregation in Nice, France.

Rabbi Kenter and his wife, Judith Dickstein Kenter, are the proud parents of two grown sons, one of whom is a rabbi of Kehillat Beth Israel in Ottawa, Canada; the other is an attorney at the New York law firm of Robins Kaplan. Judi, a past-president of the Hudson Valley Branch of Women's League for Conservative Judaism, presently serves as Women's League's International Recording Secretary. Rabbi Kenter and Judi are also the proud grandparents of 2 grandsons and 1 granddaughter. 

Contact Rabbi Kenter here.

Read Rabbi Kenter's sermons here.

Cantor Bruce Halev 

Cantor Bruce HalevCantor Bruce Halev has served as the Cantor of Congregation Habonim since 1983. A graduate of the School of Sacred Music of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC), he also holds MA degrees in Near Eastern Studies and in Jewish Education from New York University, as well as an MSW from Yeshiva University. In 2011 he received a Doctorate of Music, Honoris Causa, from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion for 25 years of service to his synagogue and to the Jewish community.

With an ongoing interest in themes of Jewish spirituality, Cantor Halev completed a two-year program in Spiritual Direction through Lev Shomeah, an organization of Jewish Spiritual Directors. He also has a strong personal interest in Jewish Mysticism and has taught numerous courses on this subject at Congregation Habonim, The Open Center, and at other venues.

Cantor Halev began his professional life in the opera and theater worlds in Europe and Israel before deciding to pursue a career in the cantorate. He is a graduate of the London Opera Center, and also studied in Italy with Tito Gobbi, the great Italian baritone. He sings in four languages and his two favorite operatic roles are Don Giovanni and Rigoletto.

The cantor is involved in all aspects of our synagogue life. He has a passion for working with students of all ages in deepening their connection to Judaism and, over the past 34 years at Habonim, he has learned a great deal from the founders of our congregation about what it means to live fulfilling and thoughtful Jewish lives. These men and women, who escaped Nazi Germany, brought with them their love of Judaism and a deep-seated love of culture; the cantor has infinite affection and respect for them, and has relished these many years in their company.

One of Cantor Halev’s greatest pleasures is making music with the rabbi and synagogue staff, together with our Nursery School students, at our weekly Rock Shabbat and Tot Shabbat services. He believes that there is nothing more vital to Jewish worship than music; it is at the very heart of spirituality -- bringing joy, personal insight and a unique sense of community to all participants while connecting us deeply to our Jewish roots.

Cantor Halev lives on the Upper West Side with his wife, Joanie. He is the proud father of two daughters, Becca Thandi and Talia Michal, both of whom also live in New York City. 

Contact Cantor Halev here.

Find samples of music used for our services, including children's services, here