I have never been more excited about the future of Karaite Judaism in the United States. Over the past few weeks, The Karaite Press (a project of the Karaite Jews of America) has launched a new book, Royal Attire. Last weekend, the sanctuary of the Karaite Jews of America, Congregation B’nai Israel in Daly City, CA, literally overflowed during its inaugural Family Shabbat Service.
And now, I have the pleasure of presenting the most dynamic investment opportunity in the future of Karaite Judaism in the United States. The Karaite Jews of America is undertaking a much-needed renovation of its sanctuary, and an expansion of its existing premises to establish the national Karaite Jewish Cultural Center. The KJA has launched its Foundation for the Future Campaign, with the objective of celebrating the re-dedication of the enhanced and expanded Congregation B’nai Israel in the Summer of 2017.
The Karaite Jews of America gave these goodies away to attendees at this year’s Shavuot celebration.
For the past few months, the Karaite Jews of America has been busy planning its Shavuot extravaganza. This is the first time the KJA has done something like this; so no one knew quite what to expect.
With 87% of precincts reporting, we can say with certainty that the event was an unqualified success. It was so successful that something peculiar happened to suggest that the final redemption may be near.
James (Ya’aqov) Walker at the International Tanakh competition in November 2014.
I first started corresponding with James Walker about eight years ago, when I was still in law school and he was interested in converting to Judaism through the Karaite movement.
To be frank, I was inspired by the fact that Karaite Judaism could link a California-descendant of Egyptian Karaites and a black man from the South. And to be even more frank, I was immediately impressed with his knowledge of Hebrew and Scripture – which far surpassed mine.
James’ knowledge of the Tanakh recently earned him a place in the North American finals in the State of Israel’s Tanakh competition, and today I catch up with him about his experience at the finals in New York this past November.
How Do You Count to 50?
The Karaite Jews of America is in the midst of its Up For The Count campaign, and the KJA has received tremendous interest from non-Karaites who want to learn to count the omer in accordance with the traditional Karaite timing and formulation.
This was rather surprising to me initially; but it should not be.
Up for the Count is off to a great start.
It’s that time of year that some people love and others have never heard of. That’s right; we’re counting the omer, a period of 50 days from the Sunday that occurs during Passover until the Sunday of Shavuot.
The Karaites and Rabbanites differ as to when to start counting the omer. You can read about that here. A young Israeli Karaite even made headlines when he refused to compete live on A Star is Born (the Israeli franchise of “American Idol”), because it coincided with the biblical/Karaite Shavuot.
But today, we’re just going to look at how Karaites count to 50.
Up for the Count’s Trendy Logo.
What is the world coming to!? The Karaite Jews of America has launched an initiative using . . . hashtags.
This morning, the KJA announced that it wants to help Karaites (of all varieties) count the omer in accordance with the biblical timing. The KJA’s program is called “Up For The Count” and the organization is asking everyone who participates to use the hashtag #upforthecount.
The program has a cool logo, is ambitious, and most importantly is a practical resource.
From my talk on the role of women in Karaite Judaism.
I haven’t been on this intense Karaite journey for too long; so I still get surprised by interesting facts on a regular basis. But during my recent talk on the religious standing of women in Karaite Judaism, I was surprised by what surprised me.
I didn’t even see it coming.