Meet the Cantor

Cantor Kevin Wartell, as of July, 2021, is the proud Spiritual Leader of  Kesher Zion Synagogue in Reading, Pennsylvania.


Cantor Kevin Wartell retired after 30 years of devoted service to Temple Beth El, Allentown, in September of 2018. As their Cantor-Educator he was considered to be one of the Lehigh Valley’s leading spiritual leaders. 


On September 30, 2018, he assumed the title Cantor -Educator Emeritus for the rest of his life, celebrating his lifelong relationship with the synagogue.


Cantor Wartell is a graduate of the University of Michigan earning a B. A. in Judaic Studies and also earned his advanced degree in Sacred Music and Jewish Education and was granted Cantorial S’micha (Ordination) by his alma mater, Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion in 1985.


Cantor Wartell received his honorary doctorate from HUC-JIR in 2010.

For 24 years, Cantor Wartell was the director of Temple Beth El’s Religious School, yielding that position in 2011. In his tenure, Temple Beth El earned the highest award given to a Religious School by United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism for excellence in Jewish Education.


He also created their High School “Shalshelet” (The Chain) program and remained active in lending his expertise in Jewish education and pedagogy.

Cantor Wartell was the founding chairperson of Project Yachad, The Lehigh Valley Coalition for Jewish Education, and served on the board of the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley and was active in interfaith dialogue, serving on the Multi-Cultural Committee of the Parkland School District and the program committee of the Institute for Jewish – Christian Understanding. Cantor Wartell is also a certified Chaplain, receiving CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) accreditation in 2013 and 2018.

Cantor Wartell was awarded the prestigious Mortimer S. Schiff Award for Prejudice Reduction by The Lehigh Valley Jewish Federation in 2018.

Cantor Wartell also served as a certified Police Chaplain for The Allentown Police Department for 29 years.

He is also a past chair of The Lehigh Valley Jewish Clergy Group.


Cantor Wartell is a well sought after public speaker and performer as well as an expert officiant at various religious and public assemblies.

Cantor Wartell, a native Detroiter, is considered “The Fifth Top” by the legendary Motown recording group “THE FOUR TOPS”, having been lifelong friends with the original members of the group since the age of 18. Cantor Wartell has performed on stage with “The Tops” in many venues, and they are in the process of producing a presentation entitled, “FROM MOSES TO MOTOWN…WHAT MAKES A SOUL SINGER MOVE THE SOUL”


In addition, he also is the creator and host of a radio program he founded in 1989 entitled "Kol HaEmek, the Voice of the Valley,” heard worldwide on WMUH-FM (91.7) every Friday morning from 8:30-9:30 am( or on your smartphone by downloading the Tunein radio application.

Cantor Wartell is married to Marcy Harris-Wartell. He is the proud father of two wonderful adult children, MiRit and Ari,… and loves his “doggie kids”, Habibi and Lucy as well.


He is also the very proud “Popdaddy” to grandchildren, Joshua, Dylan, Benjamin and Samantha.

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Cantor Kevin D. Wartell