Save The Karaite Jewish Archive

What will be the fate of the Karaite Jewish archive? Pictured: Restoration of the Iraqi Jewish Archive Still Image Video:

What will be the fate of the Karaite Jewish Archive?
Pictured: Restoration of the Iraqi Jewish Archive
Still Image Video:

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.

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Filed under Karaite Jewish Archives

“Get” with the Program

Were any Karaite Divorce Documents were Found in the Cairo Geniza?

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.

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Filed under Divorce & Get, Karaite Studies: The State of the Field, Moshe Firrouz

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and the Karaite Marriage

Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef. Source: WikiCommons:

Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef.
Source: WikiCommons:

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.

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Filed under Karaite Rabbanite Relations, Kashrut, Shabbat Candles, Yaqub al-Qirqisani

What Kind of Jew Are You?

בית כנסת רבי שמחהJewish 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?”

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Filed under Karaite Synagogues, What is Karaite Judaism

October “Book Review” and Give-Away: As it is Written: A Brief Case For Karaism

As it is Written 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.”

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Filed under Book Club, Books, What is Karaite Judaism

Will the Calendar Kill the Karaites (Again)?

Ankori's Magnum Opus is a Must Read

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.)

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Filed under Aviv, Books, Daniel al-Kumisi, Holidays, Karaite Rabbanite Relations, New Moon

September Book Review & Give-Away: An Introduction to Karaite Judaism

Introcution to Karaite JudaismSeveral 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.

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Filed under Book Club, Books

Shofar so Good

Blowing a shofar on "Rosh Hashanah" Source: WikiCommons; Jonathunder

Blowing a shofar on “Rosh Hashanah”
Source: WikiCommons; Jonathunder

I think the sound of the shofar is beautiful. I love what it has come to represent – Jews (even the least observant amongst us) gathering for the High Holidays. But I have actually never heard the sound of the shofar during my synagogue’s high holiday services. 34 years and counting!

And I hope that never changes.

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Filed under Holidays, Rosh Hashanah, Shofar, Yom Teruah

The Dining Dilemma

If you opened a Karaite "kosher" restaurant, what would you call it?

If you opened a Karaite “kosher” restaurant, what would you call it?

Okay, so the title of this post is a bit misleading. For that matter, so is the comic. There really isn’t much of a dilemma when it comes to observant Jews looking for kosher places to eat. Your choices are “dairy,” “meat,” or “parve.”

And there certainly isn’t anything as bold as “Cheeseburgers and Paradise,” which in my ideal world would serve food according to the Karaite/biblical standards. B’ezrat Hashem, one day soon!

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Filed under Kara & Robby, Karaite Rabbanite Relations, Kashrut

Really, I’m Flattered, But . . .

Real-Life Karaites Pray Here.

Real-Life Karaites Pray Here!

It seems like whenever an orthodox rabbi wants to win a halakhic debate he compares his opponents (or their position) to Karaites (or Karaism). To be honest, these comparisons are sometimes the best publicity Karaites can get. I can name dozens of Karaites whose first introduction to Karaite Judaism was through a rabbi who criticized them for holding Karaite beliefs.

But there’s something deeper and more troubling going on with these comparisons.

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Filed under ben Asher, Hametz, Karaite Rabbanite Relations, Talmud