Category Archives: Karaite Jewish University

Should Karaites Boycott Shawarma?

Shawarma? Should've Warned Ya.

Shawarma? Should’ve Warned Ya.

My mouth was watering as I was getting ready to place my shawarma order. My friend, one of the founders of the Karaite Jewish University, politely said, “Shawn, there’s a problem. That fat on the top of the shawarma is chelev and it is forbidden to eat.”

I couldn’t believe that a restaurant in Israel with a kosher certification would serve something forbidden. So I placed my order and devoured some of the most delicious shawarma I’d ever had.

That was 2006 and it took me a few years to learn my friend was right; that shawarma probably wasn’t biblically permissible.

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Filed under Karaite Jewish University, Kashrut

Aviv it or Not! (Part Two)

The last K.J.A. Bulletin? This April 2007 issue ran a story on the Aviv.

The last K.J.A. Bulletin?
This April 2007 issue ran a story on the Aviv.

As I mentioned on my Facebook profile, I was pleasantly surprised by how many people actually visited A Blue Thread to learn about the Aviv and its relation to the Jewish years.

Today, with permission from the Karaite Jews of America, I am posting images of a story that ran in the April 2007 issue of the K.J.A. Bulletin. The story is about the 2006 Aviv search.

If I recall correctly, this was the last K.J.A. Bulletin that was published. As an aside, some of my most vivid childhood memories are of watching my father stapling, folding and mailing the K.J.A Bulletins from our dining room in the 1980s.

I know that the internet has made most small-time publications difficult to justify, but one of my professed goals is to see a widely accepted Karaite print publication. A man can dream, can’t he?
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Filed under Aviv, K.J.A. Bulletin, Karaite Jewish University, Karaite Jews of America

Talmud Envy

Babylonian TalmudSeveral months ago, I wondered aloud: “What’s the difference between Kol Melacha and Melechet Avodah?” I still laugh at the response I got: “If only there were a book in which wise men discussed these issues and wrote it down.” Of course, the “book” referred to in the response is the Talmud and the “wise men” are the Rabbis.

Perhaps, I have Talmud envy – not in the 10th Commandment sense, of course. And definitely not in the “binding law” sense. But I would so love books that were highly-regarded expositions of Karaite thought and were widely available. I recently discussed this with someone whom I’d met through the Karaite Jewish University. His views were telling about the accessibility of Karaite literature: “Shawn, you can go into just about any major bookstore and find books on the Dead Sea Scrolls, which relate to a movement [i.e., the Essenes] that hasn’t existed for over 1000 years; but you can’t find a single book on Karaism, a movement that exists to this day.”
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Filed under Books, Karaite Jewish University, Karaite Korner, Karaite Rabbanite Relations, Talmud

Will 2013 be a Karaite Tipping Point? (And Our First Reader Poll)

Tipping PointIn his bestselling book, the Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell sought to explain how social epidemics spread. According to Gladwell, “The success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social gifts.”

Gladwell suggests that every social epidemic needs three types of people:  (i) connectors, who know just about everyone; (ii) mavens, who learn about and expose others to new types of information; and (iii) salesmen, who are mesmerizing in personality and are persuasive in nature.

Theology and faith aside, religious movements are a type of social epidemic. I doubt that anyone has undertaken an analysis of the Karaite Jewish world to determine whether at present any of these three types of people exist within our communities, but the internet has certainly made the spread of religious, social epidemics easier.

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Filed under Karaite Jewish University, Karaite Korner

Zvi Ankori Z”L: Author of “Karaites in Byzantium” Passes Away

Karaites in ByzantiumProfessor Zvi Ankori, one of the most influential scholars in the field of Karaite Judaism, passed away last month.

Professor Ankori authored Karaites in Byzantium: The Formative Years, 970-1100, considered by many to be his magnum opus. The work is on the recommended reading list for the Karaite Jewish University.

In the introduction to the bibliography of Karaites in Byzantium, Professor Ankori wrote, “A comprehensive, classified, up-to-date bibliography of Karaitica is an urgent desideratum.” It was this sentence that, in part, inspired Professor Barry Dov Walfish to compile his recently-published Bibliographia Karaitica: An Annotated Bibliography of Karaites and Karaism.

Professor Ankori’s passing reminds me that one of my goals for this blog is to interview researchers and scholars in the field of Karaite Judaism. Perhaps we’ll do a handful of such interviews in the coming year.

Karaites and academics are indebted to Professor Ankori for his many contributions. I recently received the following necrology for Professor Ankori.
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Filed under Barry Dov Walfish, Bibliographia Karaitica, Books, Karaite Jewish University, Karaites In Bynzantium, Zvi Ankori

Talk & Travel: USF, General Assembly, Library of Congress

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.

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Filed under Announcements, JFNA General Assembly, Karaite Jewish University, Karaite Jews of America, Library of Congress, Talks