We hear a lot these days of “identity politics.” Today, I explore “identity halacha” and realize that my religious Karaite identity is slowly getting turned on its head. And I’m fine with that.
For approximately 15 years, I have been a zealous advocate of using the moon in the Land of Israel to determine when to observe our holidays in the Diaspora. I set this forth in a book. I stated this in a Karaite Fact Card. And I couldn’t count how many times I stated this at the Karaite synagogue.
But over the last year, I’ve come to realize that I might have been wrong.
Some of my hesitancy is admitting that I was in fact wrong is because so much of my identity has been wrapped up in this.
When I was in fourth grade (iirc), I showed up to school on the Rabbanite Yom Kippur with a handwritten note from my mom explaining that I would be absent the following day for my religious observance. In that year, the new moon was seen in Israel one day after the Rabbinic calendar set the new month. And that year was the last year the Karaite Jews of America set their holidays in accordance to the new moon sightings in Israel.
In law school, I eagerly awaited news of new moon sightings from the Land of Israel (as disseminated by the Karaite Korner, and others) and often fasted for Yom Kippur or observed Passover (Hag Hamatzot) on different days from my Rabbinic brethren – and even from my Karaite brethren in the U.S. who were observing most holidays in accordance with the Rabbinic calendar.
So, it has been very difficult for me even to consider that maybe it is the local moon that matters. Maybe the Jerusalem (or Israel) moon matters for those living in the Land of Israel, but the local moon matters for us living in the Diaspora.
I was speaking to the Chief Hakham of the Karaite community about this almost exactly a year ago. He lives in Israel, advocates for the Jewish return to the Land of Israel, and he believes that our final redemption has been sped up by the return to the Land. He also believes that the local moon is the one we should be observing.
According to everyone I’ve spoken to, the adherence to the local moon also seems to have been the majority position of the Karaite sages of the Middle Ages. And my guess is that Daniel al-Kumisi – the most Jerusalem-centric Karaite of them all – also believed that the local new moon is what mattered. Check out my correspondence with a professor about this point. 
As to why the local moon might be the one that matters, I have to ask myself what the Israelites did in Egypt before the Exodus; what the Israelites did in the desert before entering the Land; what the Israelites did in the Babylonian exile. In all these cases, both before and after the revelation, the Israelites were almost assuredly looking at the local new moon. I also note that the sun, which determines our days, is a local sign – and I can think of no principled reason why the moon, which determines our months, would also not be a local sign. The Karaite Jews of America has a thorough discussion of the new moon here.
Now, don’t get me wrong, as I read the Tanakh, it is clear that the preference is for us to be living in the Land of Israel. Living in the Land of Israel – like Daniel al Kumisi was – means that your local moon is the Israel moon. On that basis, perhaps, all of us in the Diaspora are living some imperfect life.
But the question is how to deal with that imperfection. I am coming to the conclusion that the second best way to deal with it is to use the local new moon. And if one finds that odious, then I offer the best way to deal with that imperfection: make aliyah. 
As for me, I am okay with my religious identity changing – as long as it results from an honest search of the Scripture. I am humble enough to admit that I may have been wrong about the Israel-based moon. I’m okay with that. And I am also humble enough to admit that I may now be wrong about my growing belief that the new moon matters. And I’m okay with that too.
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 If you are an expert on Kumisi or the views and reasoning of the historical Karaite sages on this point, please chime in or shoot me a note. And, more importantly, if you know of a biblical verse that addresses the issue of which moon we should be looking at, please let me know.
 To be clear, I am not suggesting that the local moon is an imperfect accommodation for those who are not in Israel. I am suggesting that it might actually be the correct halakha to base your observance on the local moon. For example, if you live in Israel but are traveling for an extended period of time, under the theory proposed here, you would observe your holidays in accordance with the moon at the place of your travels.