A group of Karaites praying at a memorial service for a departed loved one.
Recently someone asked me to start posting about the modern Karaite Jewish experience again. You see, the Karaite Jewish experience was the crux of my blog in its early days. For many reasons, I’ve moved away from this – in favor of commenting on news, historical events, and highlighting where Karaite views are different from our Rabbanite brethren or have evolved over time.
But the modern Karaite Jewish struggle is real; and I am here to give a voice to that struggle. So here is a smattering of the things that people have said to my face in the past few months (and a proposed response, in case anyone says the same to you). I should note that most of the time, these comments are not made out of malice. But nonetheless, they sting.
Breaking News: Earlier this morning, the Supreme Court of the State of Israel
ruled in favor of the Karaites in a court case against the State’s religious authorities, who had tried to prevent Karaites from slaughtering in independent slaughterhouses that were under the Rabbanut’s supervision. I dedicate this post to everyone who worked so hard on that case.
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In the Rabbinic community, there are famous debates concerning the minhagim (and halakha) of Ashkenazi and Sefardi Jews. Everyone is familiar with the Passover/kitniyot debate. And historically it was the case that if you were from an Ashkenazi family, you followed your own minhag; and your Sefardi friends followed their own.
Geographic divisions like this, tend not to exist in the Karaite community. But historically there was one debate that divided the Karaites on theological lines, and caused a rift among geographical lines that somewhat reflects the Ashkenazi/Sefardi divide in the Rabbinic community.
At the encouragement of some friends, I turned some of my most popular posts into fact cards. Here is Karaite Fact Card 12 – regarding the fact that most traditional Shawarma is not kosher according to biblical standards.
Check it out here. I’ll find a way to give away these fact cards to readers in the next few weeks. Stay tuned!
Every once in a while someone takes an unnecessary shot at Karaites and Karaism. Sometimes these shots actually cause collateral damage to the Rabbinic community. So, even though I hate to respond to modern polemics, Rabbi Jeremy Rosen at the algemeiner, you’ve got my attention.
Rabbi Rosen starts off well-meaning enough. He asks a simple question “Who are the Karaites, and do they keep Simchat Torah?” But from there he veers wildly off course. Let’s review.
This wonderful book is available at Amazon:
A few weeks ago, I had breakfast with someone who was planning to start Rabbinical school at the Jewish Theological Seminary. After the meeting, he emailed me about a book called A Delightful Compendium of Consolation by Rabbi Burton Visotzky, who teaches at JTS.
A Delightful Compendium is historical fiction and traces the lives of a Karaite Jewish family as they navigate through the Middle Ages. The family members struggle to hold onto their Karaite identity as a minority in the Jewish world.
Today, I am excited to catch up with Rabbi Visotzky about his book, A Delightful Compendium.
From Yediot Aharanot: Questions and Answers with Hakham Rashi Moshe Firrouz about the recent ban on Karaite slaughter.
Those who follow the blog regularly know that I have tremendous respect for the Rabbinic tradition. (See here and here.) Heck, I have even professed my “support” for the Rabbanut.
But, at some point, you just have to call a foul on the Israeli religious authorities and ask your fellow Jews a simple question: “What kind of Jewish world do you want to live in?”
A Karaite Shochet’s First Meal: Goat Pizza.
(Photo Courtesy of T. Wheeler.)
By now, we all know that Karaites and Rabbanites have different traditions regarding kashrut (e.g., milk and meat and alyah). But the historical Karaite practice of slaughter (Hebrew: shechita) is also different from the Rabbinic practice.
Today, I catch up with Travis Wheeler, a Karaite schochet, and Eli Shmuel, a young Israeli Karaite, about the Karaite halakhic tradition regarding slaughter. Continue reading