This year, I have compiled some of my favorite Passover resources in one place. Before I get to that though, I wanted to share a story about a speaking engagement I did last weekend at a synagogue in Sacramento. I was explaining that the Egyptian Karaites refrain from eating fermented foods (including wine) on Hag Hamatzot (“Passover”). I explained that we believe that hametz refers to fermentation (not just leavening). And out of nowhere a woman from Iran says that she also refrained from eating fermented foods (but did drink wine). And a man from Baghdad said the same thing.
I don’t know whether this is coincidental or not, but the origins of the modern Karaite movement are mostly in the areas now called Iran and Iraq. And the Ethiopian Jews had a similar custom. Regardless of who is “right” with respect to the dietary laws of Passover, I am saddened that the convergence of all these non-Karaite communities in Israel and in the U.S. will almost inevitably lead to a loss of this particular practice. That is, it is much simpler to adopt the majority Jewish customs, especially where a practice (such as rabbinic community’s refraining from certain fermented food) is not codified in the Rabbinic halakha.
Without further ado, here are some resources for Rabbanites (and Karaites) that I hope will stimulate conversation this Passover season.
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This post first went live in 2016 and it was an instant classic. I still cite the research here at various talks (including the talk I just gave in Sacramento). It discusses the meaning of Arami Oved Avi, usually translated as “My father was a wandering Aramaean”, which both Karaites and Rabbanites recite during the haggadah reading.
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Here, I discuss whether all fermented foods should be forbidden on Passover.
For those who want a more detailed discussion on the Karaite views of fermented food on Passover, check out Tomer Mangoubi’s Mikdash Me’at.
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The following 20 minute video provides a brief overview of Karaite Passover customs.
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And this video is just silliness. I miss learning with those kids . . . who are no longer kids.
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Here is a great song for Passover. I myself did not know this song until a few weeks ago.
That song is printed in the Karaite haggada and it is also available at most of your favorite streaming sites. You can also download the Karaite haggada reading here.