“There was light and joy . . . ” Happy Purim, Everyone
That’s a wrap on Purim 2019. Yes, I said that right. Purim is over. I’m not talking about Purim Katan. I’m talking about the real deal – the actual holiday of Purim. Purim of Adar I. The only Purim that I have ever really been into. And the Karaite Jews of America had quite an extravaganza.
So much so that maybe next year we will plan a shabbaton around it.
Farag Menashe (still living in Cairo at the time) with the Cairo Codex.
In 1979, Hadassah Magazine visited the last remaining Karaite Jews of Cairo, Egypt. The magazine provides this tidbit regarding the shochet of the community, Farag Murad Yehuda Menashe:
[H]e will read a Haggada based on biblical texts, free of all Talmudic references. He will have no seder plate, no four questions, and no four cups of wine. His Shavuot will always fall on Sunday, and instead of fasting on the Ninth of Av, he will fast on the seventh and tenth. He has never heard the shofar blown, never put on tefillin, and never affixed a mezuzah to the doorpost of his home, and never lit a hanukkiya. (Indeed, Hanukkah is totally absent from his calendar.)
About a thousand years ago, the Karaites cancelled Purim. They just skipped it altogether and with the waving of a hand they jumped a month into the future to celebrate Passover. Sounds crazy. But it’s true. You can read about this and more in my article Comparing Purims, in which I identify some interesting similarities and differences between the Rabbinic and Karaite conceptions of Purim.
Below, you can check out some more Purim shenanigans that I did *not* put into the article.
Every once in a while someone takes an unnecessary shot at Karaites and Karaism. Sometimes these shots actually cause collateral damage to the Rabbinic community. So, even though I hate to respond to modern polemics, Rabbi Jeremy Rosen at the algemeiner, you’ve got my attention.
Rabbi Rosen starts off well-meaning enough. He asks a simple question “Who are the Karaites, and do they keep Simchat Torah?” But from there he veers wildly off course. Let’s review.
Prepping for Purim, the Festival of Lights.
I won $10 yesterday at the Karaite Jews of America’s Purim party. My dad said that he thought it was one of the congregation’s biggest turnouts in years.
I think that God was rewarding me and the KJA for celebrating Purim at the appropriate time, in the 12th month. My dad laughs when I say things like this.
Karaites celebrating Purim in March 1987
Source: Mourad El-Kodsi, Karaite Jews of Egypt (p. 307)
Last week, I received an invitation to the Karaite Jews of America’s annual Purim Party. Karaites, at least those of Egyptian descent, have some unique Purim customs.