“Jews come in many shapes and colors. One of the strangest is the Karaites, founded in the 7th century by a charismatic Jew named Anan Ben David. He totally rejected the holiness of the Talmud and strictly obeyed only the 613 mitzvot found in the Torah.”
– Lurie: The double mystery of the Cairo codex
(May, 2, 2012; SunSentinel.com)
I always knew that being a Karaite Jew made me unique. But thanks to the above article, everyone now thinks I’m strange.
I met Mr. Lurie, the article’s author, during Passover 2012, when he visited Congregation B’nai Israel, home of the Karaite Jews of America. Mr. Lurie came across as a very warm individual, so I was delighted to speak with him about Karaite Judaism and his research on the Cairo Codex. He even wrote a follow-up article about his time with us.
I commend Mr. Lurie for making the trek from (normally) sunny South Florida to (normally) overcast Daly City; but his view of Karaite Judaism is, well, very Rabbanite-centric.
For starters, Karaites don’t have a tradition of counting up the commandments in the Torah. And Karaite Judaism was not founded by Anan Ben David in the 7th Century. It is true, however, that Anan was a central figure in helping to unite various groups of Jews who denied that the Talmud was of divine origin. The Karaite-Korner has published a concise history of Bible-only Jews.
In the future, we’ll be posting about the Cairo Codex, the subject matter of Mr. Lurie’s articles. In the meantime, take a look at The Ancient Standard, which has a short entry on the topic. (See the comment at the end of the article for a correction as to where the Cairo Codex was located.)