Go Karaite and Go Karaite Hard

A group of Karaites praying at a memorial service for a departed loved one.

Several years ago, I read someone’s advice regarding the news industry. In short, the article was discussing how it is difficult for smaller news outlets to compete with the industry giants who have far greater resources to cover national and international stories. The advice was simple (and I am paraphrasing), “If I went into the news business today, I would go local and I would go local hard.”

The implication is that smaller outlets could compete in an area where the giants cannot – what is happening in any given neighborhood, town or city at any given time.

I do not know whether this was actually good advice for the news industry, but the guidance has shaped my views of how to sustain a Karaite Jewish community.

Go Karaite and Go Karaite Hard is actually my mission statement. No, not a memo: actually a full-blown mission statement. Like this.

I’ll admit, it is rather short for a mission statement, but the implications are astounding. It has guided the creation of The Karaite Press, The Karaite Kitchen, and a few other projects that I am currently working on but are still top secret.  Here are a few sub-mission statements that have guided my work:

  • If you cease to exist to the outside world, you will cease to exist to the inside world: This is actually a major problem for Karaites. For too long our community has been suspicious of outsiders (and in some cases with good reason). We have been shy to speak about our customs, heritage, halakha, etc. But if you cannot vocalize who you are to people outside your community, you cannot survive in this open world. (There are, of course, exceptions to this. Highly discrete and insular communities do not need to be able to vocalize who they are to the outside world. But most Karaites do not live in such communities.)
  • If you cannot be Karaite at home, you will not be Karaite in public: The Karaite Jewish community desperately needs more resources for people who want to live spiritual lives in the Karaite Jewish framework. Let me give you a quick example, I love shabbat. I love singing Shabbat songs. Yet to this day, the Karaite Jewish community of the United States does not have anything resembling a “bencher”.  The closest thing we have is the Abbreviated Blessings Book (which has several beautiful shabbat songs). The lack of a bencher may seem like a small issue, but this same “lack-of meaningful-resources” problem is replicated 1,000 times all across the movement.
  • If you cannot beat them, learn from their challenge: As a friend recently told me, the Rabbanites learned from the Karaite challenge. By the time of Maimonides, the Rabbanite world was steeped in idolatry and superstition. In response to the Karaites, Maimonides and others of his worldview engaged on a campaign to rid the Rabbanite world of these practices. How are the Karaites going to respond to the Rabbanite challenge to the Karaite view? Are we going to do the same thing we have been doing for the previous 700 years (where we have engaged in steady and dramatic burring of the lines between our philosophy and that of our Rabbinic brethren) and hope for different results?

The appropriate action-item in response to all of these sub-mission statements is to actually follow the mission statement itself: Go Karaite and Go Karaite Hard.

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Today is the fourth day of the third week of the seven weeks. Today is 18th day of the counting of the 50 days from the waving of the omer on the morrow of the Sabbath.

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Remember to register here for my first online learning. This is a live training, and I will be taking questions in advance and during the course. To submit a question in advance, email me here: Shawn@ABlueThread.com.




Filed under Mission Statement

7 Responses to Go Karaite and Go Karaite Hard

  1. Keren De Tornos

    No Shawn, I concur, we indeed do not need to continue the practice of assimilation, or avoidance by sticking our heads in the sand, and propone the continuance of the blurring of the boundary lines of our belief and practice differences.
    Those distinct differences in observance practices and behaviors and beliefs is exactly what separates the WHEAT from the TARES.
    THESE Jewish Faction Break-Apart groups, as they were the Rabbinic led groups that adopted practices and beliefs of revision of ORIGINAL LAW. They are responsible for the corruption of millions by their enforcement of their adding and subtractions to law, and creating calendars to suit their conveniences, all directly in violation of and from the basis of the given Instructions of YHVH.
    These facts of differences IS what makes the KARAITES loyal, steadfast, and forever obedient to the Torah Instructions.
    We are always ONE generation away from forgetting our roots, unless we teach our family, practice in our homes, and stay focused on reaching out to others who are lost and scattered, but also share our core, same beliefs. I am one of them. I am across the country from you. I have lived amongst these rabbinic ruled synagogues, as that is the only practice structures left here in my region, and I flatly have refused to join in any unholy disobedient practice/s of performing and in believing any of these bastardized versions of Tanach’s original instructions and in any expanded social agendas crated by these organizations, all created to expand their required attendance projections, commitments to their created projects, and in order to make their monthly payrolls.
    Refuting them in challenge to their faces over the years has resulted in being cast out. What a blessing they gave me!
    I accepted that I could no longer even enter these false unholy organizations in expectation of trying to meet my spiritual instructed obligations of Tanach.
    I found the American Karaites through your Blue Thread site, through Nehemiah Gordon’s biblical calendar publications, after conducting tedious searches for months, years, before I found your lone tribal remnant for a contact source to other Karaites.
    It was indeed a joyful day and a prayer finally answered!
    Now, I await these newsletters, or just to hear a response of my inquiries sent to you months ago.

    I genuinely look forward to the challenges you are proposing here.
    There are others, like me, SEARCHING for Tanach TRUTHFUL Observant practitioners, who are out there alone, just like I am without any organizational support system or even the tribal support surrounding us, and they need to know KARAITES are HERE in the USA!, as well as scattered throughout this earthly WORLD!

    I joyfully anticipate and await to see how these “untold” projects you have yet disclosed to us will evolve toward providing the required outreach and teaching instruction and resources to unhold only the practices of TRUTHFUL obedience to Tanach!,
    and what we can do as Karaites to help these projects unfold and become fruitful seeds for thousands, so they can be broadcasted and multiply and be carried on and through to our next generations progeny as well, …forever.

    amein, Amein.


  2. Myron Shindler

    I would like to learn more about the Karaite movement and how one becomes a Karaite. I am not a Jew but left Christianity after over 50 years. I have returned to the only God of creation and I seek out the truth. I know it is not in the Orthodox movement. I have just purchased a few books from Karaite Press and I hope they will help me. I continue to study Tanach and follow Hashem the best I can. I understand there were some conversions a few years ago at Daly City but now I am not sure where things stand. Is there a course one can take?
    Thank you for any assistance.
    In Truth

  3. Carol Van Goethem

    I very much enjoyed the class and am looking forward to more. I agree with your blog and I agree with Keren De Tornos. I am very excited for the future.


  4. Maybe it already exists…
    Is there an online discussion space where questions can be posted regarding how to implement Torah in varying circumstances?
    I would love to be able to post unique quandries as we experience them, and hear from people whose opinions are founded in Torah study. With the understanding that we all have to honor Torah to the best of our understanding and ability in our own homes, I would love to hear good, healthy arguments

  5. I write this comment in response to Keren’s post on May 3rd 2017. I appreciate your passion for Tanak only principles of religiosity. Yes we (at least on this blog) can agree that rabbinites contradict themselves when interpreting the Tanak and have created legalistic rulings with “divine sanction” that have no basis in the Tanak itself. Only over the last year have I come to this realization. I, like other Jews, did not question the existence of the Oral Torah and simply accepted what my Rabbi told me at Shabbat services and Talmudic discussions at my synagogue. I believe that Karaism is the correct way to practice Judaism because it requires the individual to think for his or her self. “Search the scriptures” (I am paraphrasing) is what I like about Karaism and that is what I have been doing these past months. I believe the strength of Karaism lies in the fact that it does not accept institutionalized dogma, in our case, monopolized by a group of individuals (rabbinites) as the final say so in matters of Judaism. Religious truth lies in the Tanak itself and is not the preserve of a theological oligarchy. That being said, I believe that calling rabbinites “unholy” is counterproductive, they are after all, our brothers in faith- even if we think they are in error.

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