“The first step is the two-step,” sang the incomparable country musician Tracy Byrd. But Country music has nothing on the Turkish Two-Step (as I have dubbed it) and its apparent incorporation into Karaite poetry.
As I was reviewing some poetry for an upcoming birkon, I noticed that many poems printed in Karaite siddurim repeated the first two syllables of the chorus. As I was investigating why, I recalled the time I totally choked on singing the Karaite melody of Ki Eshmera Shabbat.
A beautiful book for the feasts of the Seventh Month, produced by the Karaite community in Israel.
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.
A two thousand year-old debate triggered a Rabbi.
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.
Cups . . . the gift that keeps giving
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.
Filed under Israel Maghribi, Miriam Kefeli, Mordecai Ben Nisan, Nir Nissim, Priel Nissim, Riikka Tuori, Rotem Cohen, Royal Attire, Solomon ben Aaron, Yisrael HaMa'aravi, Yovel Musa
“There was light and joy . . . ” Happy Purim, Everyone
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.