I know. I know. You’re worried, “Here we go again. This is gonna be another variation of the Thinker post. And Shawn is going to make his name taking down those who speak ill of Karaites.” Don’t worry – it’s not and I won’t.
This past week, my seven-year-old son saw my Twitter feed and read the words “A Blue Thread.” I then, for the first time, told him I had a blog in which I write about Karaite Judaism. I showed him my recent post on Yah Zimrati. His eyes lit up.
And his response reminded me why I started this blog. And it has nothing to do with take-downs of anti-Karaite “thinkers” (no matter how popular those posts are).
Alex Sinclair is a thinker. Just ask him. He’ll tell you. Unfortunately for him – and for his readers – his thought process short-circuited about 1000 years ago, during a time when polemics were commonplace and marginalization was fully accepted.
I hated Yah Zimrati the first time I tried to learn the melody. I really did. It was about a 8 years ago, and the Karaite Jews of America was hosting a Shabbaton. If I recall correctly, it was the same weekend we announced to everyone that we’d be remodeling our synagogue. We had about 20 people in from out of town and we were extremely blessed to have Gal Shemuel visit us from Southern California. We were blessed until he tried to teach us the melody for Yah Zimrati.
I love this book. It is a perfect overview and amazing introduction to Karaite Judaism. Even I – who has been studying Karaite Judaism formally for 20+ years (and informally my entire life) – learned a tremendous amount from this book. After the jump, you can watch my video review of the book, and you can also vote on which book I do a video review of next. I’ll also describe more parts of the book that I absolutely love – and one part that I absolutely disagree with.
I’ve had enough guessing, enough speculation and enough supposition. I want someone – ANYONE – to bring me definitive proof of whether Elyakim, the author of Ronnu Shamayim, was a Karaite or Rabbanite. And I’m putting up a $500 bounty (or rather The Karaite Press is). We know with certainty that Ronnu Shamayim is probably the greatest Shavuot melody of all time. Now we need to know who wrote the poem.
I am so excited to teach a course through Judaism Unbound’s UnYeshiva. My course is called Traditionally Unbound and is a crash course on Karaite Judaism. You might be thinking to yourself, “Why is Shawn teaching a formal course through another organization?” The answer is easy.