Category Archives: Books

Karaites: No Longer the World’s Best Kept Secret

A talk that surprisingly to me featured Karaites

When I was a child, I constantly heard my uncle – the then acting rabbi of the Karaite Jews of America – say that whenever people visit us, they feel like we – the living Karaites in the 1980s – are the best kept secret in Judaism. While I always appreciated the sentiment, I never wanted Karaites or Karaism to be a secret. (Here, I note that many Egyptian Karaites who came to the United States actually kept their Karaite origins a secret from their Jewish communities.) Today, I take a quick look at some things that show the secret is out.

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Filed under Books, Shabbat Candles

The Sayings of Moshe: A Revelation in Karaite Thought

James Walker (second from right) with Avi Yefet, Chief H’ Moshe Firrouz, and Hazzan Rotem Cohen (Left to Right)

The Karaite Jews of America recently published The Sayings of Moshe: Insights on Living by the Tanakh. This work is a collection of sermons and Divrei Torah by the late Rabbi Moshe ben Shabbetai Ratzon, an Egyptian-born Karaite Jew who was part of the 20th century exodus of Jews from Egypt.

Of note, Rabbi Moshe was not afraid to blaze his own path and differ with his Karaite co-religionists (to say nothing of the rabbinic mainstream). Rabbi Moshe’s fresh perspectives demonstrate that Karaite thought is alive and well. Today, I interview James Walker who translated The Sayings of Moshe (Hebrew title: Imerot Moshe).

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Filed under Books, James Walker, The Sayings of Moshe

Book Review & Interview: A Delightful Compendium by Rabbi Burton Visotzky

This wonderful book is available at Amazon:

This wonderful book is available at Amazon:

A few weeks ago, I had breakfast with someone who was planning to start Rabbinical school at the Jewish Theological Seminary. After the meeting, he emailed me about a book called A Delightful Compendium of Consolation by Rabbi Burton Visotzky, who teaches at JTS.

A Delightful Compendium is historical fiction and traces the lives of a Karaite Jewish family as they navigate through the Middle Ages. The family members struggle to hold onto their Karaite identity as a minority in the Jewish world.

Today, I am excited to catch up with Rabbi Visotzky about his book, A Delightful Compendium.

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Filed under Books, Karaite Rabbanite Relations, Kashrut, Marriages, Matrilineal Descent, Milk and Meat, Mourners of Zion

October “Book Review” and Give-Away: As it is Written: A Brief Case For Karaism

As it is Written I guess I can’t exactly do an objective book review here, since I am a co-author of As it is Written: A Brief Case for Karaism. As I mentioned previously, I tend to follow the Israeli saying that roughly translates to, “A baker should not comment on his own work.”

So instead of my telling you how awesome As it is Written is, I’ll let this Amazon review do all the talking for me: “Not very well written, short, and does not go in depth into explaining Karaite Judaism. It is a short, basic review.”

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Filed under Book Club, Books, What is Karaite Judaism

Will the Calendar Kill the Karaites (Again)?

Ankori's Magnum Opus is a Must Read

Ankori’s Magnum Opus is a Must Read

Several weeks ago, I was out to dinner with a friend and we were discussing the state of the Karaite movement. “I think if we look at the history of the movement from the outside, the calendar issue is really what hurt Karaites,” my friend posited.

Because the historical Karaite calendar was based on empirical observations of the new moon and the ripeness of the barley, devout Karaites (especially those in the Diaspora) often disagreed as to when the true biblical holidays should be celebrated.

The Rabbanites historically mocked Karaites about this disunity. (Perhaps rightly.)

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Filed under Aviv, Books, Daniel al-Kumisi, Holidays, Karaite Rabbanite Relations, New Moon

September Book Review & Give-Away: An Introduction to Karaite Judaism

Introcution to Karaite JudaismSeveral months ago on the American Karaite Judaism Facebook group, people commented that Hakham Avraham Qanai’s An Introduction to Karaite Judaism: History, Theology, Practice, and Custom is the best book of its type. The support for An Introduction to Karaite Judaism is so widespread that I’d be a fool not to make it our book of the month.

I’ve never met Avraham in person, but he and I have been in several of the same online Karaite groups across the years.  And seeing how we are in the midst of the feasts of the Seventh Month, this is a perfect time to read the book.

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Filed under Book Club, Books

August Book Review, Interview & Giveaway: Shattering the Conspiracy of Silence

Shattering Conspiracy CoverToday, A Blue Thread launches our Fall 2013 Book Club – yes, I know it’s still summer –and I thought the perfect place to start was with a book review, interview and free giveaway of 10 signed copies of Nehemia Gordon’s latest book, Shattering the Conspiracy of Silence: The Hebrew Power of the Priestly Blessing Unleashed.

I first met Nehemia in person some 20+ years ago at a camp hosted by the Karaite Jews of America, and I spent a few years with him in the Karaites Yahoo Groups forum in the late 1990s and early 2000s. I credit that forum with re-awakening my Karaite passion, so it is particularly fun for me to catch up with Nehemia about Shattering the Conspiracy of Silence.

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Filed under Book Club, Books, Daniel al-Kumisi, Divine Name