About

Rabbi Henry Jay Karp was born and raised in New York City.  He received his BA degree from the Herbert H. Lehman College campus of the City University of New York.  He received his rabbinic training at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, spending his first year of study at their Jerusalem campus and completing his studies at their New York City campus.  He was ordained by that seminary in 1975.

Since 1985 Rabbi Karp has served as rabbi of Temple Emanuel of Davenport, Iowa.  Prior to his arrival in Iowa, his rabbinic career included serving as a rabbinic intern at Westchester Reform Temple in Scarsdale, New York (1971-1975); as director of youth activities at Temple Beth El in Great Neck, New York (1975-1976); as an assistant rabbi at Temple Israel in New Rochelle, New York (1976-1977); as rabbi of Congregation B’nai Jeshurun – the South Street Temple, in Lincoln, Nebraska (1977-1982); and as rabbi of Congregation Shir Hadash in Los Gatos, California (1982-1985).

Rabbi Karp is married to Cantor Gail Posner Karp, whom he met in seminary.  They have three children, Shira, Joshua, and Helene, as well as a dog named Simcha and countless fish.

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17 Comments on “About”

  1. Mark Kaczmarek Says:

    Rabbi,

    As one who has geat respect for your work in and around the QCA, I need a point of personal and professional (political scientist) clarification…are you personally or is the Jewish community offended by the recent kerfuffle regarding the use of the term “blood lible” by former Gov. Palin…I am familiar with the term denotatively and connotatively and feel Gov. Palin seems to be taking heat for invoking the term to describe the false blame heaped on her and other Conservatives for the Tucson massacre, on the supposed grounds that she trivialized that term and by doing so showed insensitivity to Jews. I personally thought Palin’s use of the term “blood libel” was not an inappropriate metaphor. Am I too an insensative lout?

    With the Greatest of Respect
    Mark Kaczmarek

    • ravkarp Says:

      Greetings, Mark,

      I am sorry that I took so long to respond to your comment. I have not had a chance to read and respond because I just returned last night from co-leading a 2-week study abroad program for St. Ambrose students, during which we visited Holocaust sites in Germany, the Czech Republic, and Poland.

      You ask about my reaction to Sarah Palin’s use of the term “blood libel” in her remarks regarding the attack on Congresswoman Giffords and the resulting deaths and injuries. The short answer is YES, I was offended by it. Probably especially so considering the fact that I was learning of this whole affair while in Europe, picking up whatever information I could, primarily from European news sources, between my visits to places like Dachau, Theresienstadt, and Auschwitz. Jews in general do not take the term “blood libel” lightly or consider it fodder for broader and more generalized applications. So much the more so when standing on the holy ground in which so many Jewish martyrs suffered and died as a result of that form of hatred of which “blood libels” were, and sadly remain, so much an essential element.

      Before I tell you why I feel that Sarah Palin abused the term, let me first explain the true meaning of the term “blood libel.” The “blood libel” was, and still remains, a groundless charge leveled against Jews, starting in the Middle Ages. The essence of this charge is that Jews kidnap and murder Christian children in order to use their blood in the baking of matzah (unleavened bread) for the celebration of Passover. Today, we still see this charge leveled against Jews in the Arab world, with Arab children being substituted for Christian children. The charge itself is a metaphor for the fundamental accusation of religion-based antisemitism; that the Jews are guilty of having killed/sacrificed Jesus, the child of God. It was meant to carry forward the concept that the commission of this “deicide” by the Jews was not just a one-time event but an ongoing and continual process. The Jews continually murder Jesus by brutally murdering the most innocent and vulnerable of society – children. Of course, this charge is completely without foundation. Even in the Middle Ages, there were those in the Roman Catholic Church, including popes, who denounced those who leveled this charge against Jews as being the worst purveyors of hatred. Indeed, there are church documents which even go so far as to point out the absurdity of this charge, considering Jewish dietary law expressly forbids to consumption of blood. So when all is said and done, the charge of “blood libel” was both groundless and born of the most perverse hatreds and prejudices.

      When Sarah Palin tried to label as a “blood libel” the criticism, coming from the media and others, of recent conservative political rhetoric, she was to my way of thinking not only trivializing the term but desecrating it.

      Sarah Palin is well known for her use of inflammatory rhetoric. Her accusing those who have connected such rhetoric to this recent tragedy of having committed a “blood libel” was yet another instance of her turning to inflammatory speech directed against her opponents.

      I believe that the criticism which was and is directed at Sarah Palin and those other spokesman on the extreme right, pointing to a possible connection between this tragedy and their use of inflammatory language is legitimate. When Sarah Palin put on her website a map of our country, with the locations and names of her political opponents indicated with rifle crosshairs – a map that included Congresswoman Giffords – clearly stating that these people are meant to be targeted, then she does carry serious responsibility for the metaphors which she chooses to employ. Today, in light of subsequent events, it is absolutely haunting to recall the statement which Congresswoman Giffords made in March, 2010, during an MSNBC interview – “Sarah Palin has the crosshairs of a gunsight over our district, and when people do that they have got to realize that there are consequences to that action.”

      Politicians and commentators on the right, such as Sarah Palin, have been increasingly turning to sensationalism to rally their supporters. They have found that there is power to be had by stoking the flames of anger and distrust. It is not enough for them to state their disagreements with their opponents, and the grounds for those disagreements. It is not enough for them to engage in legitimate dialogue and call upon the American people to decide for themselves where they stand on these issues. More and more, they have resorted to labeling those on the other side of issues not just as opponents but as enemies of the American way of life and traitors to our nation; as a very real and present danger which must be confronted and eliminated. They have fed their own lust for power by stirring up the darkest of passions in their constituents. By so doing, they cannot in all, or any, honesty, claim to be shocked or surprised when some of their audience takes their words too literally and decides to take extreme action in defense of America.

      Sarah Palin and others like her are guilty of shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater. What they have done, and continue to do, exceeds the limits of freedom of speech. That violence is born of their rhetoric is truly their burden of guilt, for they have gone too far. That is what their critics have claimed, and in my opinion, their critics are right on “target.”

      No one is telling the Sarah Palins and the Rush Limbaughs of our country that they no longer have a right to express their opinions. What they are being told is that they should do so in a more responsible manner and not get lost in their own rhetoric.

      I cannot help but remember several scenes of John McCain later in the presidential campaign. He would be fielding questions at town hall meetings, and he would find himself defending Barack Obama from the absurd charges and accusations being leveled by those who had bought into the hate rhetoric. He would find himself having to tell his own supports things like, “No. Mr. Obama is not a traitor to America. No. He is not a Communist. He is a good and decent man who loves America as I do. We just have different visions as to how American must travel in the future.” John McCain was and is a man of honor and a responsible public leader. His is the model others should be following. You will not find him using violent metaphors to discredit his political opponents.

      The “blood libel” was a groundless accusation, born purely of prejudice. Its purpose was to provoke such hatred toward those so accused that people would be stirred to extreme acts of violence against them. The criticism which has arisen of the type of anger provoking political rhetoric employed by such people as Sarah Palin in no way matches that description. It is anything but groundless. And though it is in part born of a certain political animosity, it is primarily the product of a great fear of such anger provoking rhetoric and a great sadness born of witnessing the tragic consequences of when some people are so stirred up that they turn to violence.

      Personally, I was deeply disappointed that when Sarah Palin did speak up in response to the Tucson tragedy, she chose to take that opportunity to be defensive and self-serving rather than to unequivocally denounce those who turn to violence as a form of political solution. The fact that she failed to do so says to me that she has learned nothing from this tragedy.

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  9. I do not create many responses, but after looking at a few of the remarks here About Rabbi Henry Jay Karp's Blog. I actually do have 2 questions for you if you do not mind. Could it be simply me or does it seem like some of these comments come across like they are coming from brain dead visitors? 😛 And, if you are posting on additional online social sites, I would like to follow anything fresh you have to post. Would you make a list of every one of your shared pages like your linkedin profile, Facebook page or twitter feed?

    • ravkarp Says:

      Thank you for you supportive expressions. While some of those who have commented on some of my blog postings may not be in agreement with me, I would not say that they are “brain dead”. It is just that they hold opposing opinions. In answer to your second question, no – I do not post on other social sites. I only post publicly on this blog.


  10. I leave a leave a response each time I like a post on a website or I have something to contribute to the conversation. It is triggered by the sincerness communicated in the post I read. And after this article About Rabbi Henry Jay Karp's Blog. I was moved enough to leave a leave a responsea response 🙂 I actually do have 2 questions for you if you do not mind. Could it be only me or do a few of these comments look like written by brain dead people? 😛 And, if you are writing at additional places, I’d like to follow you. Could you make a list every one of your public sites like your twitter feed, Facebook page or linkedin profile?

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  13. Sue Timpson Says:

    Henry my friend, this is something that Ron and I have to figure out too and we are at opposite sides of the question. Thank you.
    Love to all the Karps


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