Nir & Priel Nissim (Photo by Aviram Elisha)
Nir & Priel Nissim should be Chabad emissaries – or whatever is the Karaite equivalent. Because of them, the past few months have given rise to an amazing, wonderful and spiritually uplifting occurrence in the Bay Area. The newly renovated home of the Karaite Jews of America is being filled with more learning and more blessings than I have ever seen.
It all started a few years back when Nir Nissim ha-Levy, a hazzan from Israel, visited the Karaite Jews of America in Daly City. The members of the community instantly took to his melodies, his heart and his desire. Fast forward a few years, Nir married Priel, an incredibly knowledgeable Israeli Karaite, and found their way to the Bay Area for a year.
Give us Back our Dignity: Al-Kalim Karaite Periodical (1949)
I had been trying to find her for the past few years. I asked all the local Karaites. I emailed the Karaites in Israel. Still, no one knew Esther Yusuf Farag Al-Tanani or what became of her. And then last week I received an email (unrelated to my inquiries) informing me that someone by that (maiden) name had just passed away.
The reason I had been searching for her is due to Al-Tanani’s status as a strong advocate for the dignity of women in the Karaite Jewish community.
I was recently having a discussion with a fellow Karaite regarding the various stages of Karaite thought. In brief, he summarized that there were (in his estimation, as well as others) three main periods of Karaite halakhic literature: (i) early; (ii) late; and (iii) very late. Today, I am going to use the example of women and techellet and demonstrate how each of these periods approached this issue.
In my opinion, we can trace the decline of the Karaite movement by looking at the methods these sages employed in explaining our religious conclusions, regardless of whether we agree with the ultimate conclusion itself. At the end, you get to vote who got it right.
Filed under Aderet Eliyahu, Aharon ben Eliyahu, Elijah Baschyatchi, Eshkol Hakofer, Judah Hadassi, Karaite Fact Cards, Karaite Press, Levi ben Yefet, Royal Attire, The Karaite Press, Women in Karaism, Yaqub al-Qirqisani
Hakham Moshe Firrouz in a recent interview with the Jewish Weekly (photo/david a.m. wilensky)
Let me begin with my usual disclaimers: I’m not a Rabbanite Jew. I don’t really take sides in the internal debates within the Rabbinic community. But, given the recent attention on the Open Orthodoxy Movement and its fervent desire to ordain female rabbis within the Orthodox Community – as well as the strong opposition by others who will not accept female rabbis, I thought I’d chime in with some Karaite thoughts.
Chief Hakham Moshe Firrouz officiates a wedding featured in Haaretz’s Someone Else’s Simcha Series
(Photo Source: Haaretz)
Haaretz recently featured a Karaite Jewish wedding in its “Someone Else’s Simcha” series. I have wanted to do a post on Karaite weddings for a while – and this gives me the perfect opportunity.
The traditional Karaite Jewish wedding ceremony has several elements that are different from (and sometimes even problematic in) the Rabbinic tradition.
Disgraced Rabbi Freundel arrested on charges of voyeurism
Over the last month the Rabbinic world has been rocked by the Washington, D.C. mikveh scandal, in which Orthodox Rabbi Freundel (allegedly) set up cameras in the local mikveh to record women during their ritual immersion.
Karaite Judaism does not believe that a mikveh is required for ritual purity. For us, a shower works. But I’m not here today to tell Rabbanite women to abandon the mikveh or Rabbanism altogether. Quite the opposite.
From my talk on the role of women in Karaite Judaism.
I did not plan for this post to coincide with Women’s History Month; that’s just how the timing worked out. On February 24, 2014, I gave a talk to the Karaite Jews of America. The talk was called “She Speaks with Authority: The Religious Standing of Karaite Jewish Women from the Middle Ages through Today.”
The video appears after the jump with some notes on the talk.