September Book Review & Give-Away: An Introduction to Karaite Judaism

Introcution to Karaite JudaismSeveral months ago on the American Karaite Judaism Facebook group, people commented that Hakham Avraham Qanai’s An Introduction to Karaite Judaism: History, Theology, Practice, and Custom is the best book of its type. The support for An Introduction to Karaite Judaism is so widespread that I’d be a fool not to make it our book of the month.

I’ve never met Avraham in person, but he and I have been in several of the same online Karaite groups across the years.  And seeing how we are in the midst of the feasts of the Seventh Month, this is a perfect time to read the book.

His work is a must read for individuals seeking to learn about Karaite Judaism, and for a while it was the main text used by the Karaite Jewish University. I myself flip through the book on occasion whenever I’m looking for a quick answer on some point of Karaite understanding.

While An Introduction to Karaite Judaism is not a purely halakhic work, it carefully explains the majority Karaite position on certain legal matters. For example, the book provides that consuming alcohol is forbidden (as a form of hametz) on the Feast of Unleavened Bread (usually referred to as “Passover”). (See pp. 179-180.) And in fact, the overwhelming majority of the historic Karaite community in the world today refrains from alcohol during this week-long holiday. But other Karaites historically believed that alcohol was not hametz and was permitted during the Feast.

Perhaps most useful to the Karaite newcomer is the explanation of various Karaite prayer-positions. As most know, Karaites pray with full prostration. This is a bit different from how most Jews have grown up praying; when explaining this concept the book provides pictures to assist the reader.

The book has been well-received by the Karaite Jewish community of Daly City, and is one of the texts we recommend people read when they are first learning about Karaite Judaism.

My favorite part of the book is its translations of and references to famous Karaite works. I think that for Karaite Judaism to survive, more such works need to be available in the English language.

Well, if you’ve read the book, please let us know what you think. And if you want to win a free copy, comment below!

*   *   *

A Blue Thread is giving away ten copies of An Introduction to Karaite Judaism.  A Blue Thread will even cover the shipping. Avraham generously donated them at his printing costs and signed them in the Hebrew and in English. To be eligible for the giveaway, simply comment on the post below. Your comment could be anything from “Choose me!” to “I love this book.” I’ll hold a random drawing on September 17th, and will notify the winners via email. My only hope is that after you read the book, you will post your thoughts to the comment section below. (If you’ve already read the book, feel free to do so now.)

If you miss out on this give-away, fear not. You can purchase the book from Amazon.  And we intend to do a similar give-away with another book next month.


Filed under Book Club, Books

67 Responses to September Book Review & Give-Away: An Introduction to Karaite Judaism

  1. MA Bloom

    I would love to learn more

  2. Miguel Cuevas

    Tris isla great. Please choose me. Thank you.

  3. Eddie

    I would be interested in this book, to see what the major positions of Karaites have been

  4. Yelena

    It would be great to win a copy and participate in this month’s reading but if someone truly cannot afford it and is sincerely interested in it then I hope they get it.

  5. Sha'ul Bentsion

    Pick me! Pick me! I’ll owe you a bottle of Honey Barley Beer! 😉

  6. Gabriel Moskovitz

    links in article are “not found”. Date: Mon, 9 Sep 2013 06:11:14 +0000 To:

  7. Matityahu

    It’s a good book. Wouldn’t mind owning it at all.

  8. catherine kipapa

    I would love if you would consider me, I live in an area with no fellowship or teacher and need all the help I can get Shalom

  9. Willem

    Very interested in the reasons why Karaites don’t accept the idea of the so-called Oral Torah.

    • I actually don’t think this book is the best book for that. It just advances the Karaite position on various points of halakha. Next month’s book has more of what you are looking for.

  10. Connie Wise

    I would love the opportunity to read it. This is a great treat. Thank you so much. What a blessing during the High Holidays to have the chance to win it. Thank you. May YHWH bless you for your kindnesses.

  11. Elmer Hite

    I just received As it is written and read it last Shabbat and loved it but it leaves a lot of questions unanswered. I have read the entire Artscroll Mishnah with it commentarys (42 volumes) and would be interested in reading something as comprehensive regarding Karaism’s views on laws and practice. Perhaps An Introduction to Karaite Judaism would be a good start.

  12. Donna Bowe

    I cannot wait to read it!

  13. Shahriar Moghadam

    Count me in. I’ll be interested to read Hakham Qanai’s reasonings for Karaite positions on various halakhic issues.

    Please make this book available for Amazon Kindle too.

    By the way, you’re having the random drawing on September 17th. Isn’t this day the true Yom Kippur? How do you justify doing the ransom drawing on this day all work (commerce) is forbidden by Torah?

    I’m interested in your reasoning for scholarly reasons. If your intention is to teach the Torah through the book, you may argue that it’s activity for keeping and teaching about Yom Kippur. Let me know your reasoning.

    • Hi Shahriar, thank you for the note. The drawing will not be on Yom Kippur. The Jewish days run sunset to sunset and the gregorian days run midnight to midnight; so I’ll find a time that works.

      On Mon, Sep 9, 2013 at 9:55 AM, A Blue Thread

      • Shahriar Moghadam

        Shawn, thanks for the reply. I should have realized it that by the 17th of September, you meant the Gregorian midnight to midnight reckoning of days. So you’ll have the drawing after the sunset that ends Yom Kippur. Happy fasting!

        Will this book be available for Amazon Kindle?

  14. sdzlatkovski

    I am interested, but could not log in to give comments. I won’t use gravatar. I have done a fair amount of thinking about rabbinic Judaism, and I am curious to see another approach.

  15. Aaron Kavli

    This sounds like it would be a great resource for a seeker (i.e. me). Thanks for offering them up.

  16. Art Phillips

    Sounds like a good karaite resource book…i wouldnt mind having a copy of it .

  17. Connie

    I first heard about Karaism when I heard Nehemia Gordon speak at a seminar. I am very interested in learning more, so I would love to win a copy. Thank you for this opportunity. Connie

  18. jenniferabbott876

    This is the first book about Karaites that I read. I found it very useful and informative. I still use it quite often when I need a quick answer to a question.

  19. Kat

    As I know next to nothing about Karaite Judaism but would love to learn more, this would be an excellent opportunity to get my hands on a copy! Thanks for this awesome give-away!

  20. The path to freedom is sometimes paved in words.

  21. Dale Miller

    Yes,please what a blessing.. We would both like to read it, and to learn as it says in Proverbs 9:9,10.So the more I increase in learning of how to wise,and apply it to our lives. shalom and thank you very much…

  22. Oh please pick me! Northern Maine so far away from any Karaites, and watching/reading/responding on facebook is not the same.

  23. Sounds like an amazing book. I would love to read it. I would read anything written by the Karaites.Thank you for the offer.

  24. Avraham

    Me and my family live in South Africa, I’m very convinced of the Karaite way of walking the ancient path of the written Torah, but my wife is more a follower of the oral traditions, and are convinced of it. Maybe this book can help us! It sounds like a good study that can shed some light. Every bit of information we can get today can help us grow in the right direction.

    • Jeane-Pierre Meek

      Hi Avraham.

      Where in SA do you live? Are there any Kataite groups in SA? We live in Wilderness close to George and have been looking for Karaite groups as we want to convert. Any suggestions?


  25. Seems like an excellent book, I hope to win but if not it’s something I plan to buy & add to my collection. Thanks for the review & this opportunity!

  26. Elisamuel

    I’m lookin for the true and YHVH tookme here to karaism. I need the info to learn more how can I convert if is posible.

  27. As a non-Karaite, a book like this would be enlightening. Thanks for featuring it.

    By the way, you’re having the random drawing on September 17th. Isn’t this day the true Yom Kippur? How do you justify doing the ransom drawing on this day all work (commerce) is forbidden by Torah?

    Actually, when you enter the Holy of Holies, you’re supposed to have a lottery.

  28. Daren

    I am interested in conversion formally but no Karaite synagogue close around so this would be such a great read to further my studies in karaite history! “Love the blog keep the articles coming!”

  29. Trueblue

    I’m very interested but I hesitate to register on a commercial comment system.

    As far as I can tell, I’ve always been a Karaite but never knew it until I discovered that everything I’ve always considered to be a fundamental truth that others were ignoring and that was causing me to question other religious doctrine was actually present in Karaism and made perfect sense to me once I read it.

    That and I found out recently that my Lithuanian ancestors originally had a name associated with Karaites but changed it when they emigrated 😉

  30. Meira Flournoy

    I would love to know more about becoming a practicing Karaite Jew and this book sounds like it would answer a lot of my questions. Please enter me into the drawing!!!

  31. I live in Mexico but consider myself a karaite jew, by a deep desition of heart, ’cause I LOVE TORAH. Please send me a free copy of this book. Please! It will be very useful for me to learn basics about the feelings I have rewards Karaite faith and way of life.

    • Zvi

      Are you Jewish by birth, or have you already converted? If neither, that is even better, but it is important to prevent confusion among others between individuals already naturalized among Jews and those who have not been officially adopted yet, so let us know please.
      The book is available off of

  32. JK Hall

    I just came across this blog, and I wonder if G-d led me here, right before the drawing. I have been most interested in Karaite Judaism for years, but I never had the chance to visit Daley City or the Karaite communities in Israel. As a young scholar, however, I have often had the chance to dispel myths and speak up for Karaite Jews and Karaite Judaism in discussions with others in the field of Jewish Studies. One of my professors even suggested that Karaite Judaism “is not Jewish,” “not serious” and that they no longer exist. (I apologize on his behalf.) If the drawing has not occurred yet, please pick me — I would cherish and love this book, which I – as a grad. student – cannot afford at this time. I would read it, learn from it and pass it on to others within my field of study. All Israel is one family, G-d bless the Jewish people.

  33. Werner

    I have been looking at converting to Judaism for more then 2 years now, and have been studying it’s practices and history as well. There where always some things I just didn’t agree with like, the practice that you are not allowed to eat meat and milk products together. It has no direct law that forbids you from doing it. I have only recently learned of Karaite Judaism, and would really love to learn more.

  34. George Feeley

    As a conservative jew tired of being bogged down with rabbinical nonsense, I have searched for another way to worship as a faithful member of the house of Israel. I have found Karaitism. I however live on the opposite end of the country from the only karaite community, so this book would help me immensely on my current path

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