What if Pippi Longstocking Went Blonde?
Forget a Karaite Tipping Point, today I wonder whether Karaite Judaism will even survive another generation.
A rabbi affiliated with the Aish HaTorah movement once helped crystallize my thoughts on Jewish identity and continuity. He was speaking at a gathering of undergraduate brothers from Alpha Epsilon Pi, where I was the Director of Jewish Programming. The rabbi asked us how we would respond if one of our future daughters were to be teased for having red hair. Even though the attendees were (mostly) between 18-22 years old, we intuitively knew what to do. We’d tell her how her red hair made her unique. We’d find strong, red-headed role models. We’d make sure she knew that her red hair was beautiful. As the rabbi explained, “The answer is not to dye her hair.”
As discussed yesterday, one implication of the different perspectives of Karaites and Rabbanites is that Karaites never understood God to have commanded the separation of milk and meat as practiced by most observant Jews today. This topic is addressed in the below Karaite fact card, which derives its name from the famous Jimmy Buffett song, Cheeseburgers in Paradise.
This is an exciting time. Over the next week, I will be participating in three interesting events:
- University of San Francisco: On Thursday, November 8, 2012, I will be at the Karaite Jews of America speaking to a group of students from the University of San Francisco. The students are taking a course on various Jewish organizations and movements. This is the second time that I have had the honor of speaking about Karaite Judaism to students from USF, which incidentally is a Jesuit school.
- Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly: For the first time ever, the Karaite Jews of America will be hosting a booth at the JFNA General Assembly. The KJA is sending a delegation of three people (myself included) to provide informational material on Karaite Judaism and to answer general questions from attendees. Several years ago, I staffed a booth on behalf of the Karaite Jewish University at a previous General Assembly. This year’s General Assembly is taking place in Baltimore, MD from November 11-13, 2012.
- Library of Congress: On Wednesday, November 14, 2012, I will be speaking at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. The talk is entitled Karaite Judaism: Texts, Textualists and Tradition and will be very similar to a presentation I gave this past summer at the 47th Annual Conference of the Association of Jewish Libraries.
We’ll be providing follow-up when the dust settles.