Not All Jews Can Observe Passover Free From Oppression

From Yediot Aharanot: Questions and Answers with Hakham Rashi Moshe Firrouz about the recent ban on Karaite slaughter.

From Yediot Aharanot: Questions and Answers with Hakham Rashi Moshe Firrouz about the recent ban on Karaite slaughter.

Those who follow the blog regularly know that I have tremendous respect for the Rabbinic tradition.  (See here and here.) Heck, I have even professed my “support” for the Rabbanut.

But, at some point, you just have to call a foul on the Israeli religious authorities and ask your fellow Jews a simple question: “What kind of Jewish world do you want to live in?”

Just in time for The Feast of Unleavened Bread (commonly referred to as “Passover”), the Israeli religious authorities have issued a decree forbidding independent (kosher) slaughterhouses in Israel from making their facilities available to Karaite slaughterers. This is strange, because (as far as I can tell) Karaite laws of shechita are at least as strict (if not more strict) than the Rabbinic laws.

The timing of this is no coincidence, because Jewish families throughout Israel are preparing for the upcoming holidays. And Karaites have a long tradition of eating freshly slaughtered poultry, lamb, and other meats at the Passover Seder and during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. [1.] I previously wrote about my uncle who slaughters lamb for my family every Passover. And this year, Eli Shmuel has already slaughtered three lambs for the holiday – and hopes to slaughter three more in the coming days – for Karaites wanting meat slaughtered according to our standards.

In the coming weeks, we will recite how God liberated the Israelites from Pharaoh’s oppression. But according to some, Karaites are not worthy of retelling the story of our exodus as a fully free Jewish movement. It seems the only place Karaites may be free to celebrate is in the town of Karaite in Papua New Guinea. That’s a shame considering how awesome Karaites are.

As to what kind of Jewish world I want to live in –  I want to live in a world where Karaites can slaughter and sell meat with our own kosher certification. I want to live in a world where the orthodox Jewish community reaches a swift and peaceful resolution on whether women can wear tefillen if they choose, even if Karaites think there is no such requirement. I want to live in a world where Ashkenazim and Sefardim can have their own customs for the Feast of Unleavened Bread, without people blaming Karaites for those differences.

After all, if Mashiach comes tomorrow and tells me I missed the mark, at least I can look him in the eye and say that I was humble enough to know that I might be wrong. So instead of causing more strife among our people, I did the most important thing: I opened my arms to my fellow man.

* * *

1. The ban might only apply to poultry slaughterhouses. I infer this from Hakham Firrouz’s statement that Karaites will be without poultry as a result of the ban.


Filed under Eli Shmuel, Karaite Rabbanite Relations, Karaites in Israel, Kashrut, Moshe Firrouz, Shechita, Uncategorized

17 Responses to Not All Jews Can Observe Passover Free From Oppression

  1. Eddie

    This is fascism of the Rabbanites. Hopefully the karaim will be able to make a legal challenge or even set up its own slaughterhouses.

    This act of fascism will make more enemies for Jews all around the world.

  2. Zvi

    I am aware you wish to maintain an uplifting ambiance here. Yet I believe it is time to unequivocally place on the dock any Rabbanite who even remotely supports the aforementioned Rabbinate’s decree. We should not allow them to talk soothingly to us from the other side of their mouth… and we ought to demand they do *real* Teshuvah _unconditionally_.

    There will never be real peace in the Jewish world until all the Rabbanites realize that our rights should be self evident and we do not get them as favors from them.

  3. J.B. Stahl

    There is a much greater danger than only the immediate effects of the rabbinical ban on Karaite access to ritual slaughterhouses, for this kind of arbitrarily discriminatory behavior on the part of rabbis has an ultimately disruptive tendency that could break up the Jewish state once again, as it has in the past. Jews have a proven history of preferring to live among others anyway, rather than exclusively among themselves with whom they inevitably degenerate into fighting (a history carefully recorded and preserved in the Bible, both Old Testament and New, and more specifically in the Jewish historian Josephus’s περί του ’Іουδαϊκοῦ Πολέμου [Lat., de Bello Judaico, Engl., The Jewish War], the latter work describing in harrowing detail and at great length how the Jews were robbing, brutalizing, torturing and killing each other, and burning each other’s food, within the walls of Jerusalem during the Roman siege of Jerusalem under the Roman general Titus for the three years of 67-70 C.E., after the Roman conquest of which the Jews voluntarily scattered to the four winds, more to get away from each other than to escape Roman domination). If Jews wish to keep a national homeland, they must resolve to get along with each other despite ideological differences, without offending each other and prejudicing each other’s rights.

    • Zvi

      Yuh… while you dole out to us sage advice, kindly exhibit the sensitivity to refrain from effectively referring to our Bible as an old testament. Remember, this is a Jewish blog.

      Factually, the majority of Greater Judaea’s Jews preferred even after Jerusalem’s sacking in 70 CE to remain in Ereṣ Yisra’el, and they kept being the majority of the land’s populace until the crushing of ben Kosiba’s revolt in late 135 CE. The notion that most Jews emigrated to other lands is ahistoric hokum.

      • Zvi, I’ve met JB and met him at an orthodox synagogue. He is a big fan of karaites and Karaism. I don’t think he meant any offense.

      • J.B. Stahl

        Hokum, huh? Really? Then what were Jews still doing in Ahasuerus’s Persia even after Cyrus the 1st the Great had long before sponsored the return of all Jews in Babylonia and Persia who wanted to leave to go to Eretz C’na’an to rebuild the Temple? What were Esther, Mordecai and so many other Jews still hanging around in Persia for after that? Why hadn’t they too gone “back”? How come Saul alias Paul was born of a Pharisaic Jewish family living in Asia Minor before the Roman sack of Jerusalem in the year 70? What were Jews doing living in Damascus of Syria for Saul/Paul to convince the Sanhedrin to send him there to arrest them (also before the Roman sack in 70)? How come Saul/Paul found so many Jewish synagogues to preach in in Asia Minor, and so many Jews there and in Antioch, Derbe and Beroea of Syria and in Greece and Rome to consort with, on his travels? Jews had been running away from each other for a long time before Romans ever showed up in the East. And what were so many Jews doing in Arabia to be there to teach Mohammed the Talmud in the 5th and 6th centuries? And you may want to know that what is just called the Bible is understood to contain what is just called an Old and a New Testament, regardless of who believes in what. And while there were always some Jews in Palestine even after the Roman expulsion of Jews that followed the bar-Kokhba Revolt—after all, St. Gerome would not have gone there in the 5th century to confer with Jews about his translation of the Hebrew Bible into Latin if there had been no Jews there at all—Jews were never a majority there after, at the latest, the 7th century Moslem conquest of Palestine, until the founding of Israel in 1948. Those are what is known as facts.

        • Zvi

          🙂 ♥ I assume that many Westerners worldwide who refer to our Scriptures as “the Old Testament” are unaware that the two are not identical, because the early Christians took our Tanakh and laced with Christological tweakings and mistranslations.

          Obviously those intent on furthering anti-Jewish sentiment repeat this mischaracterization on purpose, but I am sure other gentiles are not out to hurt us. (:
          So, I implore those who are our friends and well wishers and place a premium on what is true to realize that most of us Jews are not overreacting when we object to seeing our beloved Tanakh being called “the Old Testament”.

          There are four names our Bible can be referred to without unintentionally invoking the Christian attempt to degrade our Bible by calling it an old testament: the Jewish Bible, the Jewish Scriptures, the Tanakh (acronym of Torah,Nevi’im, Ketuvim) and the Miqra.

          I also wish to add that I stand by my initial claims that the majority of Greater Judaea’s Jews preferred even after Jerusalem’s sacking in 70 CE to remain in Ereṣ Yisra’el, and they kept being the majority of the land’s populace until the crushing of ben Kosiba’s revolt in late 135 CE. And I am glad to see that my interlocutor accepts this.

          I extend me heartfelt thanks to those who are big fans of this most known form of non-Rabbinic Judaism and its adherents.

          Blessings in YHWH. All the best.

          • J.B. Stahl

            Dear Tzvi,

            Thank you for making me aware of the imaginary surveys that the “serious historians” took of the Judean population after 70 and of the Jewish population inside and outside of Judea after 70. Also, I forgot to mention that despite Moses’s Biblical prohibition against the Jews’ ever returning to Egypt after the exodus, there were nevertheless enough naughty Jews living in Egypt and speaking Greek to translate the entire Tanakh (and more) from Hebrew into Greek some 250 years even before some Jew called Jesus lived. You may also wish to consider that the Christian religion that you accuse as though it were something foreign was invented and spread by Jews. And that is what I have been trying to emphasize all along: that Jews arguing with each other over religion—as in the present rabbinical ban on Karaite access to ritual slaughterhouses in Israel—is an extremely dangerous activity that has gotten completely out of hand in the past and threatens tio again with this silly ban.

  4. I have deleted some of the most recent comments as being inconsistent with the positive nature I try to maintain here.

  5. Zvi

    I wish to use some of the claims uttered by our Christian friend Mr. Stahl to dispel some more erroneous ideas about Torah-true Judaism.

    1. Despite my conciliatory tone, Mr. Stahl seems so miffed by being urged to extend us the courtesy of not calling our Scriptures an old testament that he feels the need to resort to the strawman that I called Christianity something foreign, by which he presumably means a religion that did not evolve out of Judaism. I am extremely sorry to see that this is how friends from among the nations react when they are asked to respect basic Jewish sensibilities. I believe this should give all of us pause.

    2. Nevertheless, I, like the other Jewish visitors of this page, did not come here to discuss the Christian religion and am reluctant to talk about it at length, not least because it is obvious that this religion’s primary Scriptures which were named the New Testament were canonized only in the 4th century after having been heavily redacted, and had not been canonical in any Jewish movement except the Ebionites/Netzarim or whatever was the official name of the Jewish-Christians.

    3. The only part of the Tanakh known to have been translated to Greek by Jews in BCE times is the Torah. Nobody knows for sure who translated the Prophets and Writings, but the majority of them were translated to Greek in 2nd and 1st centuries BCE.

    4. The implied prohibition in the Torah on the Israelites never to return to Egypt was not Moshe’s but YHWH’s. None of this diminishes from Moshe’s status as the most senior (“master”) of prophets.

    • Zvi

      Small correction: even the Jewish-Christians seemed to accept only Matthew, and even this was in a Hebrew or Aramaic edition which was pretty different than the Canonical Greek Gospel.

      • J.B. Stahl

        All four gospel writers, and all the other authors of the New Testament, were Jews. The Church has tried to make Luke a gentile, but he was a circumcised Jew.

    • J.B. Stahl

      How intelligent Tzvi is is revealed by his belief that I—a fulminating, fuming, smoking, raving, stomping atheist—am supposed to be, of all the stupidest things on earth, a Christian! Wonderful. Tell me more about myself. Don’t just stop there.

      • Zvi

        🙂 Thank you. ♥ I am sure all the mistakes made by atheists reveal that they are more intelligent than the non-atheists. In fact, the only atheist living in any culture spawned by Christianity that I have seen correcting his errors about Judaism without getting into a fit is Pat Condell.

  6. Toviah

    After reading this article the question remains, what kind of Jewish world do you want to live in? History lesson, the Sadducess, Essenes and other nationalist Jews perished in the Jewish War against Rome. The Pharisees cooperated with Rome on several occasions NOT ONLY to save whats left of the Jewish people but to also have the “hall pass” to innovate and legislate binding halacha upon the masses WITHOUT opposition. Now full speed ahead to today, the problem ISNT Hareidi Judaism BUT Hareidi monopoly! Today, you still have the Reform , Progressive, Conservative, Karaite and even some in the Orthodox communities that are opposed to this type of de-legitimization by the Ultra-Orthodox. What you see above in that copy of that newspaper is a real case of Rabbinic Judaism gone wild. Now you can just sit and do nothing or you can form an alliance with other Jewish movements to try to restore a healthy balance to the Jewish people. Its not too late. The people who banned Karaite slaughter will stop at nothing to cause the break up of all of non Orthodox and now even non Hareidi Judaism. The want you all to remain split up into little sects so that way they can solidify their power over Israel. This will NEVER stop until you contact Reform, Conservative and Progressive leaders and try to get everyone to cooperate or you can also choose to risk you right to freedom of religion for good sometime during this century. Non orthodox movements are the majority so its best to act now. Don’t let history repeat itself and don’t let your grandchildren and great grandchildren not be allowed to follow Karaism just because we were naive and unwilling to work with people of different movements in order to prevent hostile Hareidi takeover of Judaism. If 10-15 of Jews in Israel are hareidi and they have almost complete control over who gets married, who is a Jew, conversions, and who can slaughter meat, then you have big problem if balanced isn’t restored. I think American Jewry would back such a plan to restore the lost 85-90% balance because everyone has everything to lose when you think about it. What kind of Jewish world do you want you great grandchildren to live in is the real question.

  7. Pingback: Exclusive: The Israeli Supreme Court Hearing on Karaite Shechita

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