Saving rare Jewish manuscripts is all the rage these days, with the Jewish community’s attention rightly focused on the fate of the Iraqi Jewish Archive. The United States spent $3 million restoring the thousands of books and documents from the Jewish community in Iraq. Today, no Jewish community to speak of exists in Iraq; but Jews had resided there since Biblical times. (And there was a Karaite community in Iraq from the 10th century until at least 1951. [1.])
The Iraqi Jewish Archive was found in the basement of a flood-damaged Saddam Hussein intelligence building and the United States is planning to send this invaluable archive back to Iraq, much to the chagrin of Jews throughout the world.
But a lesser known Jewish archive also has experienced water and moisture damage and desperately needs your support. It is the Karaite Jewish Archive in Ramle, Israel, the headquarters of Universal Karaite Judaism.
Were any Karaite Divorce Documents Found in the Cairo Geniza?
I’ll start by expressing the same shock that most of the Jewish community felt last week upon learning of the arrests of three NY Orthodox rabbis. According to sources in the linked article, these rabbis, ran a ring in which “Orthodox wives seeking divorce ma[de] payments to the rabbis—-in some cases up to $100,000.” Apparently, the rabbis “then facilitated the divorce, often through violent means, with the rabbis hiring thugs to beat the Orthodox Jewish husbands into” agreeing to grant their wives a religious divorce document, commonly called a “get.”
The Karaite halakha actually makes an occurrence like this virtually impossible.
This week, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the long-time spiritual leader of the Sephardi movement, passed away. The reactions of the Jewish world have been far-ranging and I don’t intend to express any opinions on his legacy or his halacha.
But Rabbi Yosef’s passing reminded me that he has encouraged marriages between Rabbanites and Karaites so that Karaites would eventually accept the Oral Law.
Jewish social media is now abuzz discussing the implications of the latest Pew Survey on Jewish Americans. The Pew survey, in part, gathered intel on whether Jews identify themselves as Orthodox, Conservative or Reform. But there used to be another way to answer this very simple question: “What kind of Jew are you?”
I guess I can’t exactly do an objective book review here, since I am a co-author of As it is Written: A Brief Case for Karaism. As I mentioned previously, I tend to follow the Israeli saying that roughly translates to, “A baker should not comment on his own work.”
So instead of my telling you how awesome As it is Written is, I’ll let this Amazon review do all the talking for me: “Not very well written, short, and does not go in depth into explaining Karaite Judaism. It is a short, basic review.”
Ankori’s Magnum Opus is a Must Read
Several weeks ago, I was out to dinner with a friend and we were discussing the state of the Karaite movement. “I think if we look at the history of the movement from the outside, the calendar issue is really what hurt Karaites,” my friend posited.
Because the historical Karaite calendar was based on empirical observations of the new moon and the ripeness of the barley, devout Karaites (especially those in the Diaspora) often disagreed as to when the true biblical holidays should be celebrated.
The Rabbanites historically mocked Karaites about this disunity. (Perhaps rightly.)
Several months ago on the American Karaite Judaism Facebook group, people commented that Hakham Avraham Qanai’s An Introduction to Karaite Judaism: History, Theology, Practice, and Custom is the best book of its type. The support for An Introduction to Karaite Judaism is so widespread that I’d be a fool not to make it our book of the month.
I’ve never met Avraham in person, but he and I have been in several of the same online Karaite groups across the years. And seeing how we are in the midst of the feasts of the Seventh Month, this is a perfect time to read the book.
Filed under Book Club, Books