Too Poor to Marry: Karaite Women’s Activist Passes Away

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.

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Filed under Al-Kalim, Effendi Yusuf, Esther Al-Tanani, marriage crisis, Marriages, Women in Karaism

The First Chabad Rebbe was Right: Just ask the Medieval Karaites and Rabbanites

The Leningrad Codex

My Chabad envy is well chronicled by now. Today I am taking this envy to new heights by taking the bold steps of proving that the first Chabad Rebbe, Shneur Zalman (1745-1812), was almost certainly right about the spelling of a particular word in the Tanakh. And I relied on some old sources, with a little help from my friends, to do it.

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Filed under Aleppo Codex, Chabad, Leningrad Codex, Moshe Firrouz, Nehemia Gordon

Learning 3: A Karaite Perspective on the High Holidays

How many of these rituals are what the Torah intended?

May you reach the end of the holidays and rejoice for completing them. In case you were not able to join us for the live webinar, my latest learning has been posted to YouTube. And is also embedded below.

In this talk you’ll learn: 1) Whether we are commanded by the Torah’s text to blow a shofar; 2) What the Jewish sages said about the connection between Yom Teruah and Yom Kippur; 3) What are we supposed to do with those “four species”, and 4) what Biblical holiday has Simhath Torah overshadowed.

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Filed under Daniel al-Kumisi, Holidays, Jacob ben Reuben, James Walker, Lithuania, My Talks, Shofar, Solomon ben Aaron, The Karaite Press, The Palanquin, videos, Yefet ben 'Ali, Yom Kippur, Yom Teruah

The Shofar and the New Moon: Solving a Karaite Quandary (Reader Poll)

Yemenite Jew blowing the Shofar

I finally did it. For almost 20 years I have been thinking about how to reconcile Psalms 81 which specifically says to blow the Shofar on new moon with the traditional Karaite view that there is no commandment to blow the shofar on the Yom Teruah (i.e., what the Rabbanites call Rosh Ha-shanna), which is a new moon. And this weekend, as I was preparing for a class I taught at a Conservative Synagogue, I did it.

It was actually pretty easy once I read the entirety of Psalms 81 (and not just the part that was perplexing me).

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Filed under New Moon, Rosh Chodesh, Rosh Hashanah, Shofar, Yefet ben 'Ali, Yom Teruah

Reader Poll: Does God’s Mercy Extend to the Bird’s Nest?

An excerpt of the Liturgical Poem for Ki Tetzei

Today we ask two simple questions: Does God’s mercy extend to the bird’s nest? And if so, can we acknowledge this in prayer? Right away, my observant (and studied) Rabbanite readers know exactly where this is going. For everyone else, let me start at the beginning. Continue reading

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Filed under Aaron ben Joseph, Dr. Gabriel Wasserman, Eshkol Hakofer, Israel Maghribi, Judah Hadassi, Judeo-Arabic

My Vision: A Response to the Karaite Jews of America’s Open Request

I have thoughts for what should happen here and beyond.

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.

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Filed under Karaite Jews of America, Shechita, Tallit, Techellet

A Renaissance of Tekhelet: A Non-Jewish Woman’s Journey

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.

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Filed under Techellet