I did not plan for this post to coincide with Women’s History Month; that’s just how the timing worked out. On February 24, 2014, I gave a talk to the Karaite Jews of America. The talk was called “She Speaks with Authority: The Religious Standing of Karaite Jewish Women from the Middle Ages through Today.”
The video appears after the jump with some notes on the talk.
I dedicated the talk to the life and achievements of Madame Rachel (Sheila) Cohen. She attended the Karaite synagogue every Shabbat in her 80s (!!) and explained the weekly Torah portion. You can see a short clip of her at the end of the video.
One could write volumes on any of the individual topics in the presentation, but since I only had 25 minutes I did not go into a deep justification/explanation of the Karaite or Rabbanite theology on these issues.
In reviewing the video, I note that I stumbled on some words when speaking about the Egyptian Karaite Marriage crisis. For clarification, the “dowry” is what the bride’s father would contribute to the new marriage. The “bride price” is what was paid by grooms/husbands in ancient Israel. (E.g., Exodus 22:16-17.)
And since it is Women’s History Month, if you think that Judaism can learn from the Karaite approach to these issues, by all means share the video with friends.
Without further ado:
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People often ask me for a bibliography (of sorts) in case they want to do some Karaite reading/learning on their own. Here are the references to the Karaite-focused works I discussed.
- The Stains of Culture: An Ethno-Reading of Karaite Jewish Women by Ruth Tsoffar
- Karaite Marriage Documents from the Cairo Geniza: Legal Tradition and Community Life in Mediaeval Egypt and Palestine by Judith Olszowy-Schlanger
- Male Greed, Female Influence and the Future of the Egyptian Karaites: Social change in al-Kalīm, 1945-1951 (A dissertation submitted to the University of Manchester for the degree of Master of Arts in the Faculty of Humanities 2013) by Katharine Halls
And here are the other two books I referenced: