But, at some point, you just have to call a foul on the Israeli religious authorities and ask your fellow Jews a simple question: “What kind of Jewish world do you want to live in?”
Just in time for The Feast of Unleavened Bread (commonly referred to as “Passover”), the Israeli religious authorities have issued a decree forbidding independent (kosher) slaughterhouses in Israel from making their facilities available to Karaite slaughterers. This is strange, because (as far as I can tell) Karaite laws of shechita are at least as strict (if not more strict) than the Rabbinic laws.
The timing of this is no coincidence, because Jewish families throughout Israel are preparing for the upcoming holidays. And Karaites have a long tradition of eating freshly slaughtered poultry, lamb, and other meats at the Passover Seder and during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. [1.] I previously wrote about my uncle who slaughters lamb for my family every Passover. And this year, Eli Shmuel has already slaughtered three lambs for the holiday – and hopes to slaughter three more in the coming days – for Karaites wanting meat slaughtered according to our standards.
In the coming weeks, we will recite how God liberated the Israelites from Pharaoh’s oppression. But according to some, Karaites are not worthy of retelling the story of our exodus as a fully free Jewish movement. It seems the only place Karaites may be free to celebrate is in the town of Karaite in Papua New Guinea. That’s a shame considering how awesome Karaites are.
As to what kind of Jewish world I want to live in – I want to live in a world where Karaites can slaughter and sell meat with our own kosher certification. I want to live in a world where the orthodox Jewish community reaches a swift and peaceful resolution on whether women can wear tefillen if they choose, even if Karaites think there is no such requirement. I want to live in a world where Ashkenazim and Sefardim can have their own customs for the Feast of Unleavened Bread, without people blaming Karaites for those differences.
After all, if Mashiach comes tomorrow and tells me I missed the mark, at least I can look him in the eye and say that I was humble enough to know that I might be wrong. So instead of causing more strife among our people, I did the most important thing: I opened my arms to my fellow man.
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1. The ban might only apply to poultry slaughterhouses. I infer this from Hakham Firrouz’s statement that Karaites will be without poultry as a result of the ban.