Friday, August 07, 2015

Interview with a Karaite

THE KARAITES ARE ALIVE AND WELL: Chatting with the Karaites (Sue Fishkoff,
You don’t hear much about the Karaites. That despite the fact that the only Karaite synagogue in America is right here in the Bay Area, B’nai Israel in Daly City. So when I got a call last week asking if I’d like to sit down with Rabbi Moshe ben Yosef Firrouz, the chief rabbi of the world Karaite community, I said sure.

I’ve long been fascinated by the Karaites, a community of Jews who follow the Torah but eschew the rabbinic writings, most notably the Talmud. Once spread throughout Iraq and Syro-Palestine, they co-existed with rabbinic Judaism until the time of Sa’adia HaGaon, the 10th-century sage who excoriated them as apostates and demanded they be excluded from mainstream Jewry. And so they have been ever since, much to their chagrin.

This article has a good overview of how the Karaites differ from Rabbinic Judaism and where they stand socially and legally today in Israel.

You can find lots of background on the Karaites in past posts here, here, and links