Samuel Egal Karff was Senior Rabbi of Congregation Beth Israel from 1975 to 1999 when he became Rabbi Emeritus. He spent several years as an Air Force Chaplain and has also served congregations in Boston, Massachusetts, Montgomery, Alabama, Hartford, Connecticut; Flint, Michigan; and Chicago, Illinois.

An honor graduate of Harvard University, he was ordained at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion where he earned a Doctor of Hebrew Letters degree in Rabbinic Theology.

Rabbi Karff is the author of Agada: The Language of Jewish Faith, The Soul of the Rav, Permission to Believe: Finding Faith in Troubled Times, and wrote the chapters on Judaism for Religions of the World, a text that has gone through three editions and been used in 200 colleges. He has taught at Notre Dame, the University of Chicago Divinity School, and Rice University, and is a Visiting Professor in Society and Health at The University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston.

He has served as editor of the Journal of Reform Judaism, has lectured widely in this country and abroad, and is a former President of the Central Conference of American Rabbis.

Rabbi Karff and his wife Joan, of blessed memory, are the parents of three lovely daughters, Rachel Karff Weissenstein, Amy Karff Halevy and Elizabeth Karff Kampf, who together have seven beautiful children.


Contact Rabbi Karff

The Hurricane Harvey Flood Fund

Hurricane Harvey left Houston and surrounding areas in a shambles, but the great people of Houston are banding together to help and heal. Your help is welcome and needed. You may send Gift Cards (Kroger, Target, HEB, Lowe’s, or Visa/Mastercard, etc.) to Congregation Beth Israel. They will be immediately distributed to area neighbors to assist in replacing essential items and children’s school supplies.

You may also Donate directly to Congregation Beth Israel by clicking here. All funds will go directly to aid those who need immediate help. These funds will NOT be held to be allocated later. On behalf of our clergy (Rabbi David Lyon, Rabbi Adrienne Scott, Rabbi Joshua Herman, Rabbi Chase Foster, and Cantor Trompeter), David Scott, Executive Director, and Bruce Levy, Temple President, we are very grateful for your kindness, generosity, and help.

Hurt has no shame and no label; we just need to heal one another.

Rabbi David Lyon

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