I’ve been unfaithful. Instead of blogging, I’ve been working with the Karaite Jews of America on launching The Karaite Press. I will provide a more detailed overview of The Karaite Press, its vision, and its goals in the coming weeks. For now, I want to make sure everyone knows that The Karaite Press’ first publication, Esther Explained, is available at a pre-sale price of $14. But if you enter discount code “KJA”, you can save an extra 15%.
After the jump you can see some more of the marketing material.
Farag Menashe (still living in Cairo at the time) with the Cairo Codex.
In 1979, Hadassah Magazine visited the last remaining Karaite Jews of Cairo, Egypt. The magazine provides this tidbit regarding the shochet of the community, Farag Murad Yehuda Menashe:
[H]e will read a Haggada based on biblical texts, free of all Talmudic references. He will have no seder plate, no four questions, and no four cups of wine. His Shavuot will always fall on Sunday, and instead of fasting on the Ninth of Av, he will fast on the seventh and tenth. He has never heard the shofar blown, never put on tefillin, and never affixed a mezuzah to the doorpost of his home, and never lit a hanukkiya. (Indeed, Hanukkah is totally absent from his calendar.)
Hakham Moshe Firrouz in a recent interview with the Jewish Weekly (photo/david a.m. wilensky)
Let me begin with my usual disclaimers: I’m not a Rabbanite Jew. I don’t really take sides in the internal debates within the Rabbinic community. But, given the recent attention on the Open Orthodoxy Movement and its fervent desire to ordain female rabbis within the Orthodox Community – as well as the strong opposition by others who will not accept female rabbis, I thought I’d chime in with some Karaite thoughts.
Agudath Israel of Baltimore
This past Sunday, I gave a talk on The Rise and Decline of the Karaite Movement to a group in Columbia, Maryland. Before that, I spent the weekend in Baltimore with an Orthodox Rabbi affiliated with Agudath Israel.
For those who do not know, Agudath Israel is about as Orthodox as it gets in the United States. Every conversation I had was filled with insight. I learned a lot more than religion; I saw first hand what Karaites must do to survive the next generation and beyond.
Interior of Historic Main Entrance to the Karaite Synagogue Compound in Istanbul
As we meandered through the streets of the Karakoy neighborhood of Istanbul, Avraham (among others on separate occasions) told me something rather intriguing: Karakoy was one of the areas of Istanbul where the Karaites used to live – and in fact Karakoy takes its name from the historical Karaite Jewish community.
I found this rather hard to believe. Could it really be that there were once so many Karaites in Istanbul, that an entire neighborhood was named after them?
Exterior of the historic Karaite Jewish synagogue in Turkey.
Greetings from Turkey, where I am spending the week for work. I have visited the incredibly warm and wonderful Karaite Jewish community here; and I will do a post or two about them next week. In the meantime, I wanted to tell you about a new project I am working on: Karaite Questions & Answers.
For many years, Acting Rav Joe Pessah of the Karaite Jews of America has asked me to put together something that is the Karaite Jewish equivalent of the Jewish Book of Why. While I think the Jewish Book of Why is a great resource, I wanted to do something a little bit different.
Just finished Professor Goldstein’s book. An excellent read about a little known Karaite text, the Talkhis.
Karaite Judaism is often described as “anti-Rabbinic.” I prefer the term “non-Rabbinic”, even though there was plenty of “anti” in the early Karaite movement.
Today, I look at something that may appear incongruous: Rabbinic thought in Karaite literature.