Source: National Geographic Kids
Let’s start by saying that this post is intended to be fun. It is also intended to explain Karaite Judaism to people who (despite our best efforts) still need some help. So today, I am starting a contest.
Here is how it works. Below, I will create a Karaite version of a famous Rabbanite story. In the comments, I invite you to do the same. I (in my sole and unreviewable discretion) will pick the top three stories from the comments. I will then create a poll in a future post for readers to vote on the best story. The three finalists will receive gift certificates to The Karaite Press in the following amounts:
- Grand Prize Winner: $100
- First Runner Up: $50
- Second Runner Up: $25
- Everyone Else: Will Get What’s in the Box
Where to begin? I’ve spent the better part of two weeks explaining that the holiday Jews just celebrated is not “Rosh Hashanah” – and I’ve also tirelessly explained that Karaites do not observe an additional day for our holidays.
So, I never thought I’d be writing a post about profound life lessons I learned on the Second Day of Rosh Hashanah.
Ancient Israelite blowing a Shofar on Rosh Hashanah . . .
(photo source: USA Today Photo Gallery)
If Biblical exegesis were anything like Sabermetrics, no one would think we are commanded to blow the shofar on Rosh Hashanah.
Well, to be precise, the Rabbinic community may continue to believe that we are commanded to blow a shofar on Rosh Hashanah; but Karaites would continue to be skeptical of any claim that such a commandment exists for Yom Teru’ah – the biblical name for what people call Rosh Hashanah.
Crescent new moon in the Land of Israel.
We hear a lot these days of “identity politics.” Today, I explore “identity halacha” and realize that my religious Karaite identity is slowly getting turned on its head. And I’m fine with that.
For approximately 15 years, I have been a zealous advocate of using the moon in the Land of Israel to determine when to observe our holidays in the Diaspora. I set this forth in a book. I stated this in a Karaite Fact Card. And I couldn’t count how many times I stated this at the Karaite synagogue.
But over the last year, I’ve come to realize that I might have been wrong.
Mourad El-Kodsi’s Classic Book describes Karaite Jewish Life in Egypt.
I’ve made several confessions on the blog. I’ve admitted that I lied to a rabbi. I’ve acknowledged that I support the Rabbanut. I’ve told you that shawarma is unbelievably good (even though it is almost never kosher). And now I’m going to make the biggest confession of them all.
I was once a Neo-Karaite. And I don’t mean the good kind.
Ankori’s Magnum Opus is a Must Read
Several weeks ago, I was out to dinner with a friend and we were discussing the state of the Karaite movement. “I think if we look at the history of the movement from the outside, the calendar issue is really what hurt Karaites,” my friend posited.
Because the historical Karaite calendar was based on empirical observations of the new moon and the ripeness of the barley, devout Karaites (especially those in the Diaspora) often disagreed as to when the true biblical holidays should be celebrated.
The Rabbanites historically mocked Karaites about this disunity. (Perhaps rightly.)
Today, A Blue Thread launches our Fall 2013 Book Club – yes, I know it’s still summer –and I thought the perfect place to start was with a book review, interview and free giveaway of 10 signed copies of Nehemia Gordon’s latest book, Shattering the Conspiracy of Silence: The Hebrew Power of the Priestly Blessing Unleashed.
I first met Nehemia in person some 20+ years ago at a camp hosted by the Karaite Jews of America, and I spent a few years with him in the Karaites Yahoo Groups forum in the late 1990s and early 2000s. I credit that forum with re-awakening my Karaite passion, so it is particularly fun for me to catch up with Nehemia about Shattering the Conspiracy of Silence.