Interior of Historic Main Entrance to the Karaite Synagogue Compound in Istanbul
As we meandered through the streets of the Karakoy neighborhood of Istanbul, Avraham (among others on separate occasions) told me something rather intriguing: Karakoy was one of the areas of Istanbul where the Karaites used to live – and in fact Karakoy takes its name from the historical Karaite Jewish community.
I found this rather hard to believe. Could it really be that there were once so many Karaites in Istanbul, that an entire neighborhood was named after them?
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.
Sometimes it’s easy to forget that Karaites have historically flourished in places outside of Egypt. But the Karaites of Turkey, Crimea, and Lithuania all thrived at one time or another. As pointed out in the comments to the post on Egyptian Karaite matzah recipe, these other communities had a form of matzah called Timbil.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a high resolution image of Timbil, but Avraham Ben-Rahamiël Qanaï, who is a co-author of the Introduction to Karaite Judaism, provided the following:
According to Avraham, this type of Timbil is made with flour and water: “The top is rubbed with oil (and sometimes sprinkled with Nigella seeds) and scored in a criss-cross or diamond pattern before baking.”
Happy cooking and remember to submit your photos for the photo contest to firstname.lastname@example.org by April 2, 2013.
Judeo-Tartar Translation of the Torah now on display at the Library of Congress.
I was recently invited to give a lunchtime presentation at Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. The talk was entitled “Karaite Judaism: Texts, Textualists and Tradition,” and was very well received. The Library of Congress is absolutely breathtaking and is a must see for all.
Before the talk, my wonderful contact at the Library of Congress took me to an exhibit named “Words Like Sapphires: 100 Years of Hebraica at the Library of Congress * 1912-2012.” The exhibit is showing from October 25, 2012 through March 16, 2013.
The exhibit contains an interesting piece commissioned by the once-flourishing Karaite Jewish community of Turkey. In recent years, efforts have been made to revive this community.