For the past few months, the Karaite Jews of America has been busy planning its Shavuot extravaganza. This is the first time the KJA has done something like this; so no one knew quite what to expect.
With 87% of precincts reporting, we can say with certainty that the event was an unqualified success. It was so successful that something peculiar happened to suggest that the final redemption may be near.
Or maybe not.
Outgoing (Acting) Rav Joe Pessah was helping to coordinate services when a guest mentioned that he and his family were visiting from China. Yes. This family joined the KJA for Shavuot. From China.
As Rav Pessah led Kiddush, he took a moment to say how much joy filled his heart when he learned that this family was from China. He then quoted the following verse from Isaiah: “Behold, these shall come from far; and lo, these from the north and from the west, and these from ‘Eretz Sinim.’” (Isaiah 49:12.)
One *possible* translation of Eretz Sinim is the “Land of China.” Of course, the verse here probably is not referring to modern China. And I’m betting that Isaiah is not prophesying about people from all over the world arriving at the Karaite synagogue in Daly City, California. But I don’t know for sure; as of printing, Isaiah had not returned my call to comment on this story.
But in any event, it was beautiful to see so many people at the synagogue. They came from far away: Los Angeles, San Diego, Boston, North Carolina, Oregon, British Columbia, and China. There was even someone from the historical Karaite community of Turkey.
Other highlights from the weekend included (i) James Walker’s talk on how we got the Torah, which focused on the works of Josephus all the way through the Karaite Sages of the Middle Ages; (ii) Azriel Kowtek and Matthew Rolland teaching me how to tie tzitziot; and (iii) Ken Lane’s stirring Devar Torah on Parashat Yitro.
I really do hope to see these distant visitors (and our locals as well) more often at the synagogue. For those who joined the KJA’s Shavuot celebration at the synagogue or who counted the omer with or without the assistance of the KJA’s app, thank you. And to everyone, Chag Sameach.