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Rabbi Karen Levy

Rabbi Emerita

Karen Levy served as our first Rabbi from her installation in 2009 until her retirement in 2015. Karen relishes bringing people together in cooperative projects to strengthen Jewish identity and personal humanistic ethics through celebration, education and tikun olam (building a better world). As Rabbi Emerita, she will continue to be involved with Oraynu in various capacities, currently with a focus on the revision of our High Holiday services.

Rabbi Levy trained at the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism, where she was certified as a madrikha in 1993 and ordained as a rabbi in 2009; and at York University where she earned an MA in Humanities with a Graduate Diploma in Jewish Studies. Previously she graduated with Honour BA’s in English, History and Education from the University of Toronto.

Rabbi Levy had been a member of Oraynu and the Secular Humanistic Jewish movement since 1981, and served in several leadership positions, including Oraynu’s Program Director, Children’s School Principal, Bat/Bar Mitzvah Director, and Education Director at the above Institute. She spearheaded numerous programs at Oraynu, including our Bnai Mitzvah, family education, teacher training, youth leadership, children’s library, many adult programs, the Chesed Circle and Show Your Heart. She has written and edited a variety of materials, such as ceremonies, plays, simulations, curricula and teacher’s guides.

Rabbi Karen and her husband Gary, who is also an Oraynu member and sings in our choir, enjoy the many cultural offerings of Toronto and their travels, as well as hiking and canoeing at the cottage, lively talks with family and friends about work, science, politics and philosophy, and especially playing with their grandchildren.


  • Values and History Curriculum for Secular Humanistic Jewish Supplementary Schools, JK-7, co-written with Eva Goldfinger, 1995
  • Resources and Activities for the Early Modern European Roots of Secular Humanistic Judaism, International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism, 1998
  • Background Notes and Questions (co-written with Leon Levenson) for Doctor Yudelman’s Computer And Other Plays For Jewish Children by Leon Levenson, Ed. by Karen Levy , International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism, 2002