PLATTSBURGH — Diagonally, Rabbi Kari Tuling moves across the country.
Born in San Diego, she most recently lived in Cincinnati, Ohio, before starting July 1 at Temple Beth Israel in Plattsburgh.
“I’m actually really excited about being up here,” said Tuling, who was accompanied by her husband, Tom, and their son.
“I love the scenery and outdoors opportunities.”
Hiking trails are in her immediate future, with skiing in the wings.
Her journey from protestant to Reform rabbi is a fascinating story.
In her native California, she majored in international relations at Pomona College in Claremont. After graduation, she did marketing in healthcare utilization management.
“I realized that I didn’t like what I was doing. I was spending all my free time at Temple Beth El in Aliso Diejo. What happened? I married somebody that was Jewish. I decided to convert. We joined that temple in the process. I started taking classes with Rabbi Allen Krause,” Tuling said.
After completing the adult-education program, she had an adult bat mitzvah.
“I realized this is what I wanted to do,” she said. “I went to the process of going to school. I went to Hebrew Union College. The first year is in Jerusalem and thereafter in Cincinnati. After I was ordained in 2004, I entered their graduate program. I am almost finished with a Ph.D. in Jewish law.”
Tuling was attracted to Judaism because of its long history of scholarship.
“And critical thinking with regard to questions of God, text and Bible. I wanted to be part of that scholarly tradition. In addition to that, it has a warm family tradition of holiday worship, observance, food and culture that was so appealing, and of course the great music. I felt at home,” Tuling said.
She worked part-time at various Jewish organizations and served as a part-time rabbi.
Her appointment at Temple Beth Israel is her first full-time position. She submitted her resume to the Central Conference of American Rabbis, which has a placement process.
“We realized it was a good match,” Tuling said of Temple Beth Israel.
In addition to her rabbinical duties, she was asked to teach a course such as Introduction to Judaism or Women in the Bible at Plattsburgh State.
Though she and her family are newcomers to the area:
“It’s been wonderful,” Tuling said. “We really like it.”