I hated Yah Zimrati the first time I tried to learn the melody. I really did. It was about a 8 years ago, and the Karaite Jews of America was hosting a Shabbaton. If I recall correctly, it was the same weekend we announced to everyone that we’d be remodeling our synagogue. We had about 20 people in from out of town and we were extremely blessed to have Gal Shemuel visit us from Southern California. We were blessed until he tried to teach us the melody for Yah Zimrati.
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I am so excited to teach a course through Judaism Unbound’s UnYeshiva. My course is called Traditionally Unbound and is a crash course on Karaite Judaism. You might be thinking to yourself, “Why is Shawn teaching a formal course through another organization?” The answer is easy.
Look, I get it. You live in a community of observant Rabbanites. You’ve all heard of Karaites, but none of you really knows too much about us, except: “HERETICS!” Or maybe: “HERETICS!” Or how about: “HERETICS!”
I know that in many respects this is more sociological than theological. So, I’m going to make you an offer you can’t refuse.
When I was a kid, I received my formal Jewish education at Peninsula Sinai Congregation in Foster City, CA. There, I met a guy named Aaron Moskowitz, who was one year older than me. He was always a nice guy. But poof, just like that he was gone. It turns out he moved away and I never actually interacted with him again until we connected on facebook, through a group for alumni of Alpha Epsilon Pi (the Jewish fraternity).
I asked the group whether anyone could help me create new, modern music for Karaite songs. I was even open to something like what Jimi Hendrix did to (and for) the National Anthem. Aaron was one of many people who said he could help. He said the project contained his two favorite things: Rock & Roll and Judaism.
My fellow Threaders,
First, do we like being called Threaders? (Let me know at the end of the post.)
As you know, I have been blogging less than I had originally planned. And indeed, I am blogging less than I want to. There is a simple reason for this. I have been working on several other initiatives that I hope will create long term sustainability for the Karaite movement. Blogging is a great short term investment, but we need something more substantive if we are going to exist in 100 years.
So today, I want to announce two exciting initiatives.
When I was in high school, I learned two truths that would change my world. The first truth I learned was that my male relatives were detained in Egyptian internment camps during the Six Day war. The war lasted six days, but the Egyptian government’s internment of Jewish males lasted approximately three years. The second truth I learned was that every year my Uncle Ben had personally slaughtered the lamb we ate on Passover. I never knew any of this till my high school years. Crazy.
I’ve been unfaithful. Instead of blogging, I’ve been working with the Karaite Jews of America on launching The Karaite Press. I will provide a more detailed overview of The Karaite Press, its vision, and its goals in the coming weeks. For now, I want to make sure everyone knows that The Karaite Press’ first publication, Esther Explained, is available at a pre-sale price of $14. But if you enter discount code “KJA”, you can save an extra 15%.
After the jump you can see some more of the marketing material.