I really wanted to hate this song. And I really wanted to be frustrated at the Israeli Karaites who published it. These are not ideal qualities; I know. But once I took a deep breath, I realized that the song is absolutely beautiful; the Karaite sage who wrote about a shofar in a song about Yom Teruah (“Rosh Hashanah”) is a great poet; and I am a better person because of it.
I know. I know. It’s not even Shavuot and here I am talking about lamentations for the month of Av. But I can’t stop listening to these snippets I received from Hazzan Rotem Cohen. He recorded the introductory words of a well-known Karaite lamentation for me in two renditions: once with the Egyptian tune and once with the Crimean tune. Today, I want to see if you can identify which is which.
What started out as a beautiful Shabbat evening with community and discussion devolved quickly – and mostly privately. First the orthodox rabbi made a mistake. Then I made two. Then the rabbi intended to offend me. He failed, but it was clear that I was not welcome. And I walked out. That might have been a mistake as well.
This year, I have compiled some of my favorite Passover resources in one place. Before I get to that though, I wanted to share a story about a speaking engagement I did last weekend at a synagogue in Sacramento. I was explaining that the Egyptian Karaites refrain from eating fermented foods (including wine) on Hag Hamatzot (“Passover”). I explained that we believe that hametz refers to fermentation (not just leavening). And out of nowhere a woman from Iran says that she also refrained from eating fermented foods (but did drink wine). And a man from Baghdad said the same thing.
By now, most of you have seen the Rotem Cohen Cups video that the Karaite Jews of America has posted on its Facebook page and website. Today, I share with you some of the background of the video and let you know that a lot more is coming your way.
That’s a wrap on Purim 2019. Yes, I said that right. Purim is over. I’m not talking about Purim Katan. I’m talking about the real deal – the actual holiday of Purim. Purim of Adar I. The only Purim that I have ever really been into. And the Karaite Jews of America had quite an extravaganza.
So much so that maybe next year we will plan a shabbaton around it.
Or: “How I whiffed in that extremely popular Tefillin video.”
Today, on the week when we read some of the “tefillin passages” in Parashat Bo, I do a massive mea culpa on a relatively minor part of the Tefillin video I posted almost two years ago. And in the process of this correction, I will (hope to) elucidate yet again, why we need more Karaite literature available in English. And why we all need to study more philosophy. Or at least I do.