Over the past few weeks, the Karaite Jews of America asked members of the community at large to share their vision regarding the future of Karaite Judaism. I did not respond directly to the KJA, because I thought that a very courageous public request deserves a public response. So, here are my thoughts.
Category Archives: Shechita
Almost a year ago, I lost my beloved uncle, Benjamin Pessah, the last Egyptian Karaite Jew actively practicing shehita in the United States. At that time, I made a personal resolution to continue to promote Karaite shehita whenever possible. Last week, the Karaite Jews of America released a new work on Karaite shehita. The work is Ritual Slaughter: A Guide to Modern Karaite Jewish Practice.
Today, I interview Travis Wheeler, the only shohet in the United States to be trained by the Karaite community of Israel. In fact, he was trained by H’ Moshe Firrouz, the Chief Hakham of the Council of Sages. Travis owns Six Star Meat and Poultry and recently released his Passover pricing list.
Greetings from Turkey, where I am spending the week for work. I have visited the incredibly warm and wonderful Karaite Jewish community here; and I will do a post or two about them next week. In the meantime, I wanted to tell you about a new project I am working on: Karaite Questions & Answers.
For many years, Acting Rav Joe Pessah of the Karaite Jews of America has asked me to put together something that is the Karaite Jewish equivalent of the Jewish Book of Why. While I think the Jewish Book of Why is a great resource, I wanted to do something a little bit different.
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.
On September 17, 2014, the Israeli Supreme Court held a hearing on whether the Israeli religious authorities (the “Rabbanut”) can withhold kosher certification from Rabbinically slaughtered poultry in independent slaughterhouses simply because a slaughterhouse also lets Karaites slaughter poultry in the same facility. (The slaughterhouses at issue only deal with poultry.)
I first reported on this issue prior to Pesach, when Chief Hakham Moshe Firrouz was interviewed by an Israeli news service. And today, I catch up with Tomer Mangoubi, author of Mikdash Me’at, who was inside the Israeli Supreme Court during the hearing.
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.
Oy! Karaites do not follow what the Torah “says;” we seek to follow what the Torah “means.” These two things are not always the same. Today, let’s look at some of my favorite non-literal Karaite interpretations.