The Passover Episode: A Collection of Resources for the Feast of Unleavened Bread

Wine GrapesWith the Feast of Unleavened Bread quickly approaching, I wanted to make sure that everyone had easy access to my previous posts on the topic. Today, there is nothing new, just a bunch of old posts I wanted to bring back to your attention.

On Thursday, I will chime in with some breaking news.

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Filed under Passover

The Karaite Jews of America’s Bold Decision to Modernize its Shabbat Service

A group of Karaites praying at a memorial service for a departed loved one.

A group of Karaites praying at a memorial service for a departed loved one.

A few weeks ago, I received a well-reasoned and thoughtful letter from a (non-historically Karaite) Jewish man who has been attending the Karaite Jewish synagogue in Daly City for a few months. He said that the Shabbat service is the best asset the KJA has, because it is more engaging than its Rabbinic counterparts. He added, though, that he hoped the KJA would find a way to make more parts of the service accessible to persons who do not speak Hebrew.

His email to me was well-timed; the KJA had just put together a committee to review its siddur and to reflect on the nature of our services. Exciting things are on the horizon.

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Filed under Aaron ben Joseph, Services, Shabbat

The Karaite Press is a Small Dream Come True

Esther Explained, a beautiful addition to your Purim studies; now available at Amazon.

Esther Explained, a beautiful addition to your Purim studies; now available at Amazon.

For those of you following along, you now know why I have been posting more frequently about the need to revive historical Karaite Jewish literature. In my personal opinion, one part of the decline of the Karaite movement was that we stopped reading our own literature. And when we stopped reading our own literature, we stopped writing our own literature. Writing our own literature is absolutely crucial to the survival of the Karaite Jewish movement.

The Karaite Press aims to take the lead in reviving historical Karaite literature – with the ultimate goals of educating about the unique perspective preserved by this literature and inspiring the creation of new Karaite works. Today, I share some of the vision of the Karaite Press.

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Filed under Esther Explained, The Karaite Press

The KJA Launches The Karaite Press: Buy “Esther Explained”

Esther Explained, a beautiful addition to your Purim studies

Esther Explained, a beautiful addition to your Purim studies

I’ve been unfaithful. Instead of blogging, I’ve been working with the Karaite Jews of America on launching The Karaite Press. I will provide a more detailed overview of The Karaite Press, its vision, and its goals in the coming weeks. For now, I want to make sure everyone knows that The Karaite Press’ first publication, Esther Explained, is available at a pre-sale price of $14. But if you enter discount code “KJA”, you can save an extra 15%.

After the jump you can see some more of the marketing material.

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Filed under Uncategorized

Are the Historical Karaite Jewish Objections to Hanukkah Still Relevant Today?

Farag Menashe (still living in Cairo at the time) with the Cairo Codex.

Farag Menashe (still living in Cairo at the time) with the Cairo Codex.

In 1979, Hadassah Magazine visited the last remaining Karaite Jews of Cairo, Egypt. The magazine provides this tidbit regarding the shochet of the community, Farag Murad Yehuda Menashe:

[H]e will read a Haggada based on biblical texts, free of all Talmudic references. He will have no seder plate, no four questions, and no four cups of wine. His Shavuot will always fall on Sunday, and instead of fasting on the Ninth of Av, he will fast on the seventh and tenth. He has never heard the shofar blown, never put on tefillin, and never affixed a mezuzah to the doorpost of his home, and never lit a hanukkiya. (Indeed, Hanukkah is totally absent from his calendar.)[1]

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Filed under Aharon ben Eliyahu, Hanukkah, Jacob ben Reuben, Mikdash Me'at, Purim

Open Orthodoxy is a Positive Step Backward

Hakham Moshe Firrouz in a recent interview with the Jewish Weekly (photo/david a.m. wilensky)

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.

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Filed under Moetzet Hachamim (Council of Sages), Women in Karaism

What Karaite Jews *Must* Learn from Orthodox Jews

Agudath Israel of Baltimore

Agudath Israel of Baltimore

This past Sunday, I gave a talk on The Rise and Decline of the Karaite Movement to a group in Columbia, Maryland. Before that, I spent the weekend in Baltimore with an Orthodox Rabbi affiliated with Agudath Israel.

For those who do not know, Agudath Israel is about as Orthodox as it gets in the United States. Every conversation I had was filled with insight. I learned a lot more than religion; I saw first hand what Karaites must do to survive the next generation and beyond.

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Filed under Eli Shmuel, Karaite Rabbanite Relations, Moshe Firrouz, State of the Movement