Category Archives: Prayer

How ibn Ezra Trolled the Karaites – A Closer Look at Ki Eshmera Shabbat

Ki Eshmera Shabbat, by R’ Abraham ibn Ezra, as printed in the Vilna Edition of the Karaite Prayer Book (Vol. IV)

Virtually, every Karaite respects Rabbi Abraham ibn Ezra. He lived in the 12th Century, and he is arguably the greatest of the classical Rabbanite peshatist (plain meaning) commentators. I have even quoted him in my talks. One of the reasons he is such a good peshatist is because he was combatting the then-thriving Karaite movement, which espoused peshat above all.

In addition to writing commentaries, ibn Ezra also penned numerous poems – the most famous of which is Ki Eshmera Shabbat. It is well known that the poem wound up in Karaite prayer books. It is less well-known that the Karaites modified the poem to remove anti-Karaite rhetoric. And it is even less well-known that the version that appears in Karaite prayer book still appears to have anti-Karaite polemics.

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Filed under Abraham ibn Ezra, Karaite Rabbanite Relations, Prayer

Yes; I Do Keep Real Kosher (And Other Struggles of Modern Karaites)

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.

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Filed under Kashrut, Milk and Meat, Prayer, Rabbanite Privilege, What is Karaite Judaism

The Karaite Service is an Old School Mash-Up Album

family-shabbat-for-blogWhen I’m not blogging, I teach people how to lead Shabbat morning services at the Karaite synagogue in Daly City. I never realized how beautiful the Karaite service was until I started teaching. And I never realized what geniuses the Karaite sages were till I started studying the service to improve my hazzanut (cantillation).

The traditional Egyptian Karaite service is a lyrical masterpiece, worthy of a Pitch Perfect mash-up.  Oh Beca Mitchell, you were born in the wrong generation.

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Prayer Customs of Karaite Jews (New Video – By Eli Shmuel)

Karaite Jewish LearningEli Shemuel is no longer in the U.S., but he keeps on trucking. Last night the Karaite Jews of America released another learning by Eli. This time, Eli is speaking about Karaite Jewish prayer customs.

I previously wrote a little about Karaite prayer customs here. Eli’s new video goes into more detail about removing our shoes, ritual purity, the structure of the Karaite prayer. Check out the beautiful music from the Karaite Jewish choir of Israel as well.

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Filed under Eli Shmuel, Full Prostration, Karaite Synagogues, Prayer, Ritual Purity, videos

How do Karaites Pray? The “Haqdamah”

Source: Magnes Museum; The Karaite Jews- Karaite Service, Foster City, CA by Ira Nowinski (Egypt, Israel, and USA, 1984)

Source: Magnes Museum; The Karaite Jews- Karaite Service, Foster City, CA by Ira Nowinski (Egypt, Israel, and USA, 1984)

Among the most common requests I receive is to provide readers with the means to learn a traditional Karaite prayer. Indeed, the Karaite community (in addition to having a rich interpretive history) has a rich liturgy. Thus far, I have resisted these requests, because it really isn’t the focus of the blog.

Recently, though, there was a discussion on Mi Yodeya asking how Karaites pray. And after Monday’s post on keeping it real, I thought it was time to do at least one post related to Karaite prayer. It didn’t take me long to determine where to begin: the Haqdamah.

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Filed under Crimea, Karaite Jews of America, Karaite Prayers & Melody, Prayer

Karaite Studies: The State of the Field (Part II)

Presentaion of Karaite CommunityThis is the second (and, for now, final) post related to the Karaite Studies:  The State of the Field workshop held in Israel in early 2012.

In this post, we’re picking up where we left off by summarizing and annotating the second half of a question-and-answer session between Rabbi Moshe Firrouz, the Chief Rabbi of the Karaite Council of Sages, and various attendees at the workshop. Based on the number of views, the post on the first half of the question-and-answer session was a hit, and YouTube has a video of the entire session.

A little background is necessary before jumping into this post.  A lot questions relate to ritual purity. Karaites generally concern themselves with ritual purity more so than Rabbanites because the traditional Karaite view is that one may not enter a holy place (such as, in the Karaite tradition, the sanctuary of a synagogue) while ritually impure. We’ll discuss this issue in more detail in a later post. Other topics in this post relate to Karaite butcher shops, mikvehs, fertility, and even the permissibility of pets.

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Filed under Crimea, Daniel Lasker, Fertility, Free Will, Full Prostration, Head Coverings, Karaite Rabbanite Relations, Marriages, Menstruation, Mikveh, Moetzet Hachamim (Council of Sages), Moshe Firrouz, Mourning, Pets, Prayer, Ritual Purity, Sacrifice, Secular Karaism, What is Karaite Judaism, Women in Karaism