I walked into the synagogue a bit late yesterday morning. After saying Shabbat Shalom to my parents, the first thing I did was find my Uncle Joe Pessah – the former acting rabbi of the Karaite Jews of America. I said, “Are we reading Kelil Yofi today?” He said, “You’re favorite! Yes it is coming soon.” I then made my way over to the bima to get the hazzan’s attention to let him know that I’d read Kelil Yofi. It never really occurred to me that Kelil Yofi was my favorite piyyut (liturgical poem), but I think it undoubtedly is.
In reflecting on *why* it is my favorite piyyut, I realized something important about Jewish learning.
During the past six months I’ve done a few online classes. They are fun, and I look forward to doing more. I finally got around to recording the one on the Karaite liturgy. You can watch that one here. I have a few more to record.
For the Karaite liturgy video, I put up a challenge to raise money for The Karaite Press. Check it out to see whether you’ll be donating $10, $20 or $30. (Of course, feel free to donate nothing. Or more.)
I usually don’t express my Karaite state of mind publicly, but I am generally worried about the survival of the movement and its philosophy. As you can imagine, we have a massive demographic disadvantage, and despite the fact that the internet is the great equalizer, we are structurally behind our Rabbanite kin in terms of infrastructure and resources. This worry of mine isn’t “new”. I’ve had these same worries since I was in my teens.
In honor of March Madness, I thought I would do a series of posts asking you to choose which Karaite songs you like best.
Today’s contest is between two different renditions of the same song. The song is Lahatany Mivhar Banay, which translates to To my Groom, the Choicest of My Sons.
I know. I know. It’s not even Shavuot and here I am talking about lamentations for the month of Av. But I can’t stop listening to these snippets I received from Hazzan Rotem Cohen. He recorded the introductory words of a well-known Karaite lamentation for me in two renditions: once with the Egyptian tune and once with the Crimean tune. Today, I want to see if you can identify which is which.
Cups . . . the gift that keeps giving
By now, most of you have seen the Rotem Cohen Cups video that the Karaite Jews of America has posted on its Facebook page and website. Today, I share with you some of the background of the video and let you know that a lot more is coming your way.
Filed under Israel Maghribi, Miriam Kefeli, Mordecai Ben Nisan, Nir Nissim, Priel Nissim, Riikka Tuori, Rotem Cohen, Royal Attire, Solomon ben Aaron, Yisrael HaMa'aravi, Yovel Musa
In my last post, I demonstrated how I believe the Karaite siddur contains a beautiful error with respect to a single letter in a biblical verse. Today, I want to demonstrate that everyone and – as far as I can tell – I mean everyone who is singing some version of Shelomo ibn Gabirol’s She’areikha (“Your Gates”) is singing a version that is unattested to in the fragments that are publicly available through the Friedberg Geniza Project.
Despite this, I would wholeheartedly be honored if you would sing the Karaite transmission of the poem. And I would be equally honored if this post encouraged you to learn and sing any of the versions that appear in Rabbanite siddurim or in the Geniza fragments.