Original Source Unknown*
For much of Jewish history, Karaites (and their intellectual predecessors) and Rabbanites (and their intellectual predecessors) have argued over which movement represents the original form of Judaism.
Karaites believe that the original form of Judaism was characterized by adherence only to the written Tanakh, with no oral accompaniment.** Rabbanites disagree with this notion, and believe that God gave the Jewish people an oral law.
Regardless of who is correct about the divine-origin of the Oral Law, is it fair claim either movement is the original form of Judaism? Almost certainly not.
What if Pippi Longstocking Went Blonde?
Forget a Karaite Tipping Point, today I wonder whether Karaite Judaism will even survive another generation.
A rabbi affiliated with the Aish HaTorah movement once helped crystallize my thoughts on Jewish identity and continuity. He was speaking at a gathering of undergraduate brothers from Alpha Epsilon Pi, where I was the Director of Jewish Programming. The rabbi asked us how we would respond if one of our future daughters were to be teased for having red hair. Even though the attendees were (mostly) between 18-22 years old, we intuitively knew what to do. We’d tell her how her red hair made her unique. We’d find strong, red-headed role models. We’d make sure she knew that her red hair was beautiful. As the rabbi explained, “The answer is not to dye her hair.”
One of the founders of the Karaite Jewish University brought to my attention a recent videotaped lecture called Anan ben David: The Challenge of Karaism. Dr. Henry (Hillel) Abramson delivered the lecture, which is embedded below.
Overall, the presentation is very informative and I thank Dr. Abramson for including Karaite Judaism in this lecture series.
Dr. Abramson, while undoubtedly well-intentioned, makes a few statements with which most Karaites would disagree. So, as you are watching the video, I have a few comments I’d like you to keep in mind. (And no, I’m not going to nitpick every word. Rather, I again want to thank Dr. Abramson for giving his audience a taste of Karaite Judaism.)
This 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.
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
One of my professed goals for starting A Blue Thread is to promote the study of Karaite Judaism at secular and religious institutions. This is the first in a series of posts related to a workshop, entitled Karaite Studies: The State of Field, that was held in Israel from February 27, 2012 – March 1, 2012.*
For today, I’ve created cliff notes and commentary (not to be confused with an oral law) for the first half of a question-and-answer session between Rabbi Moshe Firrouz, the Chief Rabbi of the Karaite Council of Sages (Hebrew: Moetzet HaHachamim), and various researchers and academics in attendance at the workshop. The topics covered in this post range from women in Karaite Judaism; Karaite Torah scrolls; rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem; and efforts of the Karaite community to maintain its halakha (religious interpretations), culture and traditions.
Filed under Conferences & Workshops, Divorce & Get, Karaite Beit Din, Karaite Jews of America, Karaite Prayers & Melody, Karaite Rabbanite Relations, Karaite Scribes, Karaite Studies: The State of the Field, Moetzet Hachamim (Council of Sages), The Temple, What is Karaite Judaism, Women in Karaism
We are happy to announce the publication of a series of Karaite fact cards. Each card provides a light and easily digestible introduction to various topics in Karaite Judaism. We’ll make a print set of the cards available in the coming months; for now, please enjoy a digital version of the first card in the series.