Molly Karp

The last thing Molly Karp ever wanted to be was a rabbi. One of four children raised by teacher parents on the lower east side of Manhattan, her parents believed that their children could do anything they set their minds to, but Molly and her siblings attended a Jewish school where there were many things that girls were not permitted to do. Outside of school, Molly found love and safety in the Jewish world sitting beside her father in shul, hiding under his tallit and playing with his tzitzit.

Molly’s family left the city every summer to go deep into the heart of nature, where God’s presence and gifts could be experienced in the leap of a frog into the lake, and the voices of the loons that woke Molly as they sang on the lake every morning. There Molly began to be aware of the world of spirit that nurtured her soul from a very young age.

Molly’s time in Israel following high school and during college awakened something in her that she never knew existed. In the Sinai, Molly found God and called it so for the first time in her life. She returned home with a love and passion for Israel and the Jewish people that she had never felt before. She found herself immersed in Judaic Studies classes, and soon was majoring in the field. She began to teach Religious School, and realized that she loved teaching Judaism. This love unfolded and deepened as she graduated with a BA in Judaic Studies from SUNY Binghamton, earned a Master’s Degree in Religious Education from HUC-JIR and worked in many aspects of Jewish Education. Molly had found her calling.

Although her Dad thought that Molly would make a terrific rabbi, Molly resolutely turned her back on that choice, choosing instead to deepen and broaden her Jewish knowledge in a doctoral program in Hebrew Bible at the Jewish Theological Seminary. That time coincided with the beginning of a journey of self-learning that involved psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, meditation, Jewish music, prayer and study, culminating in a two-year program for educators at the Institute for Jewish Spirituality. At IJS Molly furthered her work on developing her own spirituality, and began to listen to a persistent whisper inside her that perhaps she was ready to admit that she could, even wanted to, be a rabbi.

It is with mingled joy and sadness, humility, pride and gratitude, that Molly stands here today, the day of her father’s yahrzeit, to take on the mantle of Rabbi in his honor, and with his tallit as his blessing upon her shoulders. She wishes to acknowledge and thank her teachers and classmates at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, The Jewish Theological Seminary, The Institute for Jewish Spirituality, and The Academy for Jewish Religion. She is grateful to her parents, Richard and Lita Karp, for raising her to be a woman of heart and mind, strength and gentleness, and Jewish learning. She is proud beyond belief and bursting with love for the two young men that are her sons, Adam Karp Hurst, who graduates from Temple University this very day, and Jonah Karp Hurst, her very favorite musician, and grateful for the love that they give to their idiosyncratic mother. Molly is deeply appreciative of the family and friends that supported and encouraged her on her journey to this time and place, especially her children and their father, Marc Hurst – her friend and co-parent, and her wise and loving sister, Judi Karp.

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