Category Archives: Holidays

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

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

Sandy Koufax, Meet Rotem Cohen

The cover of one of the sections of Israel's Ma'ariv newspaper, featuring Rotem Cohen after he decided not to compete on Shavuot.

The cover of one of the sections of Israel’s Ma’ariv newspaper, featuring Rotem Cohen after he decided not to compete on Shavuot.

Many are aware that Sandy Koufax, the legendary Dodgers pitcher, decided not to pitch in Game 1 of the 1965 World Series because it fell on Yom Kippur.

In 2011, Rotem Cohen, an Israeli Karaite Jew, decided not to participate live in the Israeli vocal talent show A Star is Born (Hebrew: Kochav Nolad*), when one of the rounds of the competition fell on the Karaite Shavuot. His decision affected his chances to advance on the show. But Rotem doesn’t regret a thing.

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Filed under Calendar, Holidays, Karaite Press, Karaites in Israel, Shavuot

Karaite Matzah Photo Contest Winner & Vote for the Runner-Up

Baking Matzah

Baking Matzah

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Matzah Photo Contest.  It was a lot of fun for me to review the submissions.

And based on the number of photos I’ve received, it seems like other such contests might be in the future. Now that the Feast of Unleavened Bread is behind us, it’s time to announce this year’s photo contest winner and let you vote on the runner-up.

So without further ado, the winner is . . .

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Filed under Holidays, Karaite Fact Cards, Passover, Photo Contests

But Who’s Counting, Anyway?

How Would Count von Count Count the Omer?

How Would Count von Count Count the Omer?

For more than 40 years, Sesame Street has helped children around the world learn how to count. And as a child, I watched the famous Sesame Street character Count von Count: “One ha ha ha; Two ha ha ha; Three ha ha ha . . .”

Religious Jews everywhere are currently “Counting the Omer,” which is a fifty-day period leading up to Shavuot. But if Sesame Street were around in antiquity, Karaites and Rabbanites would still disagree about how to count to 50.

It turns out that Sesame Street can teach both Karaites and Rabbanites how to count; but we need to turn to a different source to know when to start counting.

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Filed under Counting of the Omer, Holidays, Karaite Korner, Shavuot

Karaite Fact Card 8: Karaite Matzah Recipe (and Photo Contest)

Now that Purim is behind us, most Jews* are starting to plan for Passover, which they will be observing from the evening of March 25, 2013 through the evening of April 2, 2013.

Check out this matzah recipe used by the Egyptian Karaite community – which I promise you is better than store bought matzah.  Okay; that’s not really saying much . . . but give it a shot.

Karaite Fact Card 8 (Front): Karaite Matzah Recipe Karaite Fact Card 8 (Back): Karaite Matzah Recipe

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Filed under Holidays, Karaite Fact Cards, New Moon, Passover, Photo Contests, Recipes

Purim: The Festival of Lights

Karaites celebrating Purim in March 1987Source: Mourad El-Kodsi, Karaite Jews of Egypt (p. 307)

Karaites celebrating Purim in March 1987
Source: Mourad El-Kodsi, Karaite Jews of Egypt (p. 307)

Last week, I received an invitation to the Karaite Jews of America’s annual Purim Party. Karaites, at least those of Egyptian descent, have some unique Purim customs.

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Filed under Books, Holidays, Purim