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.