Category Archives: Holidays

Rosh Hashanah, Yom Teruah, and the Shofar: By the Numbers

Ancient Israelite blowing a Shofar on Rosh Hashanah . . .  (photo source: USA Today Photo Gallery)

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.

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Filed under Daniel al-Kumisi, Holidays, Rosh Hashanah, Shofar, Yom Teruah

The Best (and only) Purim Party in Town

See why Purim is the Festival of Lights. http://wp.me/p43Sek-du

Prepping for Purim, the Festival of Lights.
http://wp.me/p43Sek-du

I won $10 yesterday at the Karaite Jews of America’s Purim party. My dad said that he thought it was one of the congregation’s biggest turnouts in years.

I think that God was rewarding me and the KJA for celebrating Purim at the appropriate time, in the 12th month. My dad laughs when I say things like this.

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Filed under Holidays, Karaite Jews of America, Purim

Will the Calendar Kill the Karaites (Again)?

Ankori's Magnum Opus is a Must Read

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.)

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Filed under Aviv, Books, Daniel al-Kumisi, Holidays, Karaite Rabbanite Relations, New Moon

Shofar so Good

Blowing a shofar on "Rosh Hashanah" Source: WikiCommons; Jonathunder

Blowing a shofar on “Rosh Hashanah”
Source: WikiCommons; Jonathunder

I think the sound of the shofar is beautiful. I love what it has come to represent – Jews (even the least observant amongst us) gathering for the High Holidays. But I have actually never heard the sound of the shofar during my synagogue’s high holiday services. 34 years and counting!

And I hope that never changes.

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Filed under Holidays, Rosh Hashanah, Shofar, Yom Teruah

Sandy Koufax, Meet Rotem Cohen

The cover of one of the sections of Israel's Ma'ariv newspaper, featuring Rotem Cohen after he decided not to compete on Shavuot.

The cover of one of the sections of Israel’s Ma’ariv newspaper, featuring Rotem Cohen after he decided not to compete on Shavuot.

Many are aware that Sandy Koufax, the legendary Dodgers pitcher, decided not to pitch in Game 1 of the 1965 World Series because it fell on Yom Kippur.

In 2011, Rotem Cohen, an Israeli Karaite Jew, decided not to participate live in the Israeli vocal talent show A Star is Born (Hebrew: Kochav Nolad*), when one of the rounds of the competition fell on the Karaite Shavuot. His decision affected his chances to advance on the show. But Rotem doesn’t regret a thing.

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Filed under Calendar, Holidays, Karaite Press, Karaites in Israel, Shavuot

Karaite Matzah Photo Contest Winner & Vote for the Runner-Up

Baking Matzah

Baking Matzah

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Matzah Photo Contest.  It was a lot of fun for me to review the submissions.

And based on the number of photos I’ve received, it seems like other such contests might be in the future. Now that the Feast of Unleavened Bread is behind us, it’s time to announce this year’s photo contest winner and let you vote on the runner-up.

So without further ado, the winner is . . .

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Filed under Holidays, Karaite Fact Cards, Passover, Photo Contests

But Who’s Counting, Anyway?

How Would Count von Count Count the Omer?

How Would Count von Count Count the Omer?

For more than 40 years, Sesame Street has helped children around the world learn how to count. And as a child, I watched the famous Sesame Street character Count von Count: “One ha ha ha; Two ha ha ha; Three ha ha ha . . .”

Religious Jews everywhere are currently “Counting the Omer,” which is a fifty-day period leading up to Shavuot. But if Sesame Street were around in antiquity, Karaites and Rabbanites would still disagree about how to count to 50.

It turns out that Sesame Street can teach both Karaites and Rabbanites how to count; but we need to turn to a different source to know when to start counting.

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Filed under Counting of the Omer, Holidays, Karaite Korner, Shavuot