I have known Azriel Kowtek, online and in person, for some time now. She visited the Karaite Jews of America’s Shavuot extravaganza in 2015. She and her daughters recently came to visit the KJA for family Shabbat this past September.
Her greatest biblical passion is the original source of tekhelet, the color “blue” that the Israelites are commanded to attached to the corners of our garments. The interesting thing about Azriel, and she is very open about this, is that she is not Jewish. She runs a site called “The Ancients’ Blue” where she discusses her process for dyeing tekhelet and tying tzitziot (tassels). From a Karaite perspective, I am fascinated with her work because her product meets two of the historical Karaite Jewish viewpoints on tekhelet: (i) she is using a ritually pure source, and (ii) her tekhelet is (daytime) sky blue.
Today, I interview Azriel regarding her work and her passion.
Look at those blue fringes! But why aren’t the women wearing them?
A few weeks ago, I mentioned how Azriel Kowtek shared her passion for blue fringes and tying tzitzit with several of us who attended the KJA’s shavuot gathering. Last week, I wrote about the importance of reviving Karaite literature. And this past Shabbat, Rabbanite Jews read the Torah portion related to the commandment to wear blue fringes. [1.]
In the Rabbinic tradition, women are not required to wear blue fringes. Let’s see what the early Karaite literature says on the topic.
The Karaite Jews of America’s Booth at JFNA’s TribeFest.
Eli Shmuel and I are here in New Orleans at the Jewish Federation of North America’s TribeFest 2014 – which is awesome so far. Over Shabbat, Eli and I were discussing whether we (Karaites, Rabbanites, others) know the true color of techellet.
And the conversation led me to one of the most profound realizations of my young life.
Perhaps I’ve taken for granted for too long that readers know why I chose “A Blue Thread” as the name for the blog. The name refers to the enduring Karaite Jewish practice of wearing blue fringes on the corners of our prayer shawls. Until recently, this practice was almost uniquely Karaite.
Check out the following fact card for more information.