[by Phyllis Shaikun]
During her years in Louisville, Michigan native Cheryl Karp’s dedication to the Jewish community has been exemplary. Now she is being honored nationally as one of this year’s recipients of the highly regarded Kipnis-Wilson/Friedland Award to be presented during the annual International Lion of Judah Conference to be held New Orleans on November 8-10. The award recognizes extraordinary women who have set a high standard for philanthropy and volunteerism in their communities.
She was nominated for the Award by the Jewish Community of Louisville in recognition of the leadership she has provided to the Louisville Jewish community, particularly in the areas of women’s philanthropy and endowments.
As with everything else she has done in her life, Karp has given her all to the many boards and committees with which she has been affiliated over the years. Locally, she headed both the Women’s Division of the Federation Annual Campaign and the general Campaign – each for two years. She was the first woman to chair the general Campaign. During her tenure, the Maimonides Society was begun in cooperation with Jewish Hospital and the King David Society was created. She showed her commitment to the Campaign by endowing her Lion of Judah commitment so her giving to the community can continue in perpetuity.
She served on the boards of the Jewish Community Center, the Jewish Community Federation and the National Council of Jewish Women, Louisville Section, chaired the JCC Acculturation Committee and served on the Federation’s Resettlement Committee. She sat on the Federation’s Planning and Allocations Committee for over a decade and was a member of the National Women’s Philanthropy Board of the Jewish Federations of North America. She served on the United Jewish Appeal’s Midwest Region Women’s Cabinet and chaired the Midwest Region Women’s Campaign Leadership Conference.
Karp has a deep love for Israel and co-chaired several missions there including the communitywide Jerusalem 3000 mission to Israel in 1996. She participated in the March of the Living and several missions to Israel, including a Lion of Judah world tour with Betty Kane and a mission to Poland and Israel. She is appreciative of the opportunities she has had to meet others who share her love of the global Jewish community and have given her a greater understanding of the issues that are important to Jews locally, in Israel and in communities around the world.
“Many of these people have spent hours of their time doing the community’s work,” she said, “and I consider it God’s work. I feel extremely blessed to have had so many opportunities to serve and to have wonderful friends in my life. I encourage everyone to get involved – you get back so much more than you give.” Her husband, Dr. David Karp, has been very supportive of her efforts.
But Karp’s not finished yet – she still has challenges to meet. She now serves on the Pritchard Committee, a statewide education group that was behind the KERA initiative. Inspired by her seven-year-old grandson, Jared, who plays the violin, she began studying the cello two-and-one-half months ago and “loves it.” Her grandson, Danny, who turned four in June, wants to play the cello as well. They are the children of Karp’s daughter, Abby, and her husband, Brian Marcus. Karp’s son, Andrew, and his wife, Lisa, are expecting their first child in December.
Karp, who is modest about her accomplishments, has a degree in special education with certifications in education of the deaf, speech therapy and elementary education and taught children with learning disabilities for several years. She also earned a law degree from the University of Louisville’s Brandeis School of Law and was a practicing attorney for more than 12 years.
“Of all of the things I’ve done,” she says, “my most valuable and satisfying work has been with the Jewish community. I have loved every single minute of my involvement, and I encourage everyone to be a part of it. I am gratified to be recognized for my efforts on its behalf. I believe it is important to acknowledge past leadership and to consider them a valued resource.”
The Kipnis-Wilson/Friedland award was established in 2004 in recognition of Norma Kipnis-Wilson and Toby Friedland, founders of the Lion of Judah pin, which they first introduced in 1972 to benefit Women’s Division of the Annual Campaign in Miami. Since then, the Lion of Judah pin, which recognizes a woman’s contribution of at least $5,000 to the Annual Campaign each year, has established itself as a symbol of commitment to the worldwide Jewish community.
If you are interested in finding out more about the becoming a Lion of Judah or attending the Annual Conference, please contact Sara Wagner, JCL vice president Campaign and outreach at 451-8840. Early bird discounts are available until September 7.