James (Ya’aqov) Walker at the International Tanakh competition in November 2014.
I first started corresponding with James Walker about eight years ago, when I was still in law school and he was interested in converting to Judaism through the Karaite movement.
To be frank, I was inspired by the fact that Karaite Judaism could link a California-descendant of Egyptian Karaites and a black man from the South. And to be even more frank, I was immediately impressed with his knowledge of Hebrew and Scripture – which far surpassed mine.
James’ knowledge of the Tanakh recently earned him a place in the North American finals in the State of Israel’s Tanakh competition, and today I catch up with him about his experience at the finals in New York this past November.
Not enough time in the day to bring Karaites Back to the Future.
I feel like I owe A Blue Thread’s readers an explanation. The number of views for A Blue Thread continues to exceed my expectations, even though I am not posting as regularly as I used to – let alone, as often as I would like.
I just received an email from someone encouraged me to “keep blogging.” So, let me tell you what I’m working on when I’m not blogging. And I promise to blog more regularly, when things slow down. Continue reading
Attribution: DRosenbach at en.wikipedia
In 1979, Hadassah magazine published a story about the Karaite Jews of Cairo. Among the interesting tidbits in the piece was that the last remaining Karaites in Cairo had never celebrated Hanukkah. [1.]
Since Karaites historically did not celebrate Hanukkah, some might find it odd that I am offering a Hanukkah gift to the Jewish masses. This offer is not too good to be true.
Chief Hakham Moshe Firrouz officiates a wedding featured in Haaretz’s Someone Else’s Simcha Series
(Photo Source: Haaretz)
Haaretz recently featured a Karaite Jewish wedding in its “Someone Else’s Simcha” series. I have wanted to do a post on Karaite weddings for a while – and this gives me the perfect opportunity.
The traditional Karaite Jewish wedding ceremony has several elements that are different from (and sometimes even problematic in) the Rabbinic tradition.
Disgraced Rabbi Freundel arrested on charges of voyeurism
Over the last month the Rabbinic world has been rocked by the Washington, D.C. mikveh scandal, in which Orthodox Rabbi Freundel (allegedly) set up cameras in the local mikveh to record women during their ritual immersion.
Karaite Judaism does not believe that a mikveh is required for ritual purity. For us, a shower works. But I’m not here today to tell Rabbanite women to abandon the mikveh or Rabbanism altogether. Quite the opposite.
From Yediot Aharanot: Questions and Answers with Hakham Rashi Moshe Firrouz about the recent ban on Karaite slaughter.
On September 17, 2014, the Israeli Supreme Court held a hearing on whether the Israeli religious authorities (the “Rabbanut”) can withhold kosher certification from Rabbinically slaughtered poultry in independent slaughterhouses simply because a slaughterhouse also lets Karaites slaughter poultry in the same facility. (The slaughterhouses at issue only deal with poultry.)
I first reported on this issue prior to Pesach, when Chief Hakham Moshe Firrouz was interviewed by an Israeli news service. And today, I catch up with Tomer Mangoubi, author of Mikdash Me’at, who was inside the Israeli Supreme Court during the hearing.
The traditional Karaite Ketubah requires the signature of 10 Jewish witnesses. And in the Karaite tradition, men or women count as witnesses. Here is a video of how my wife and I integrated our varying Jewish customs into our Ketubah.
If you would like to integrate a Karaite custom into your upcoming life-cycle events, please drop me a note.