Rabbi Karen Fox, Emerita

  • Clergy
Rabbi Karen Fox, Emerita

Rabbi Karen L. Fox is the first woman rabbi to serve at Wilshire Boulevard Temple, the fifth woman rabbi in Jewish history, and one of the few rabbis licensed as a psychotherapist.

 In 25 years at Wilshire Boulevard Temple, she impacted generations of families, helping create a vibrant Jewish life for them as a community and as individuals. “When it comes right down to it—very few rabbis deeply affect another person’s life. Karen is one of the few,” said Senior rabbi Steve Leder. “She is the best one-on-one rabbi I have ever known. She is a rabbi’s rabbi.”  

Officially retired from the Temple in January 2015, Rabbi Fox has begun an “encore career,” teaching two courses to Rabbinic students at the Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles: “Lifecycle and Pastoral Counseling Skills” and “Rabbi as Symbolic Exemplar,” a class in professional ethics. She also provides counseling and consulting through her private practice.  

Arriving at Wilshire Boulevard Temple in January 1985, Rabbi Fox immediately made a difference in the life of the Temple. As Director of Camp Hess Kramer, she reinvigorated Jewish values for hundreds of campers and staff and was ultimately honored as a “Legend” of the Wilshire Boulevard Temple camps.

In 1998, she began developing unique opportunities to engage adults at the Temple’s westside Audrey and Sydney Irmas Campus. Through the Caring Community and the Fields Center for Jewish life and Values, she taught and implemented core Jewish values, teaching lay leaders to care for each other and their families during moments of life cycle transitions. Rabbi Fox worked with volunteers who continue to reach out to ill and homebound congregants.

Sharing her love of Torah, Rabbi Fox led study groups for adults and young people, helping them understand and find personal meaning in Jewish texts. As the founder of the Women’s Torah Study group and its leader for 18 years, she guided women to uncover the wisdom and wonders of Torah, focusing on different commentators each year.

Rabbi Fox remains an activist on behalf of Israel, leading trips and advocating for the Reform Jewish movement in Israel. She was the national Rabbinic Associate Chair of the Association of Reform Zionists of America, which promotes the Reform voice in Israel, and she served as President of the Pacific Association of Reform Rabbis. She also served on the National Board of Israel Bonds and the ethics committee of the Central Conference of American Rabbis.

From 1978-82, Rabbi Fox was the first woman rabbi to serve the national Reform Jewish Movement as a Regional Director of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, now the Union of Reform Judaism. In 1980, she and her brother, Rabbi Steven A. Fox, were the first sister and brother in American Reform Jewish history to both be ordained as rabbis.

She received a bachelor’s degree at UCLA in 1973 and a master’s in Hebrew literature at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, New York, where she was ordained in 1978. She earned an additional master’s degree in counseling psychology from Pepperdine University in 1992 and is a licensed California marriage and family psychotherapist. Rabbi Fox continues to study at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem and as a member of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality.

She has mentored dozens of rabbinic and cantorial students and continues to guide the next generation of rabbis as an Adjunct Professor at Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles.

She is married to Michael Rosen and is mother of two married sons, Avi (Liz) and Benjy (Julie) and “Omi” (grandmother) of four, David, Lena, Izzy, and Joseph.