EDMONTON — It’s probably safe to say that being a rabbi is not on the career list of most little girls, but Rabbi Carmit Harari says she came to the decision honestly.
Rabbi Carmit Harari [Tamara Stecyk photo]
When she was four, her father was in one of the first graduating classes of the Israeli rabbinical program at Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem, and her mother was a Jewish educator.
“I grew up in the field,” she said.
What made it more remarkable is that when Rabbi Harari, now 31, was living in Israel and in her first year of rabbinical studies, her mother applied to the same program – part of Hebrew Union College – and both mother and daughter were ordained as rabbis within a few months of each other.
Rabbi Harari is now serving Edmonton’s Temple Beth Ora, a 90-family congregation that was founded 29 years ago.
Her parents live in a suburb of Chicago where her father is a full-time rabbi, and from which her mother commutes to a congregation in Jackson, Tenn., where she is a part-time rabbi.
Rabbi Harari is the third female rabbi to serve the Edmonton congregation in the past 12 years.
“The congregation was looking for the best rabbi to serve its needs. I’ve never experienced anything negative in that I am a woman,” she said.
She said that since she started in September, she has taken on a full range of responsibilities in addition to her rabbinical duties. She is teaching adult Jewish education courses and teaching in a day school, is involved in various interfaith activities and working with the other congregations in Edmonton.
Through her work, she said, she hopes “to bring meaning to people’s Jewish experience.”
For the Haifa-born rabbi, coming to Edmonton has most certainly been a long journey, but one she has adapted to well.
“I grew up being exposed to a plethora of Jewish experiences. I felt very comfortable coming here.
“My congregation has a tag line, ‘traditional values, contemporary focus,’ that in a nutshell can typify my feelings. That’s why I connected almost immediately with the congregation, and with the Reform movement in North America.”