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.
Leon Nemoy’s work contains some of Kumisi’s writings.
Yesterday, a rabbi published an excellent piece about how the word “God” has become a loaded term. (See Rabbi Says, “Time to Give Up On God.”) As the rabbi astutely points out, people intend to convey vastly different feelings, meanings, and intentions when using the word “God.”
It seems to me, as a Karaite, that the ambiguity around “God” would be minimized if people actually referred to God by God’s personal name (יהוה).
Don’t worry; I’m not about to swat the hornet’s nest by advocating for a particular pronunciation of God’s name.
Original Source Unknown*
For much of Jewish history, Karaites (and their intellectual predecessors) and Rabbanites (and their intellectual predecessors) have argued over which movement represents the original form of Judaism.
Karaites believe that the original form of Judaism was characterized by adherence only to the written Tanakh, with no oral accompaniment.** Rabbanites disagree with this notion, and believe that God gave the Jewish people an oral law.
Regardless of who is correct about the divine-origin of the Oral Law, is it fair claim either movement is the original form of Judaism? Almost certainly not.
(Source: WikiMedia Commons; David Cohen, Photographer)
Maybe it’s the internet or maybe it’s that we’re all simply more curious these days, but the inertia that once confined Jews to a single Jewish movement our entire lives is eroding rapidly.
The transient nature of Jewish observance and identity was recently on display when CNN’s Belief Blog interviewed Matisyahu. (See Q and A with Matisyahu: ‘Hasidic reggae superstar’ sans the Hasidim.) Matisyahu described how he “started out with the Chabad movement . . . with the idea that ‘this is it.'”* Matisyahu eventually opened up to other Jewish movements.
I’m not saying that Matisyahu would ever explore Karaite Judaism (or even that Karaite Judaism is the right path for Matisyahu), but many Rabbanites are drawn to Karaite Judaism for the same reasons that Matisyahu recently underwent a very public “rebirth.”
A friend of mine recently announced on Facebook that he was making aliyah. Someone commented that my friend was making all Karaites proud. This Karaite Fact Card discusses the early Zionist movement within the Karaite Jewish community.