To examine the medieval Byzantine Karaite
contribution to Jewish creativeness and culture in the fields of Hebrew grammar and philological interpretation of the Bible, Charlap focuses on three prominent Karaite
scholars who were connected with Constantinople during about 250 years, from the last decades of the 11th century to the end of the second decade of the 14th century.
At its peak, it included Arabic-speaking, Rabbinic and Karaite
Jews, along with Sephardic Jews who had come to Egypt after they were expelled from Spain.
Trakai city itself is famous for having the descendants of Karaite
people who came to the region from Crimea in the 14th century.
Gordon, "#198: Aviv Report 2005 and Related Aviv-Issue", Karaite
Korner Newsletter (March 13, 2005).
"We are first of all Jews, and only after Karaites
," stressed Shlomo Gever of the Karaite
Religions: Roman Catholic 77.2%, Russian Orthodox 4.1%, Old Believer 0.8%, Evangelical Lutheran 0.6%, Evangelical Reformist 0.2%, other (including Sunni Muslim, Jewish, Greek Catholic, and Karaite
) 0.8%, none 6.1%, unspecified 10.1%
sects, Islamic architectural touches on the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, a storied arch -- all become uniquely fascinating in this setting.
For the specialist, the racialized world view of the Nazi regime is well known, but I wondered what an undergraduate reader would make of the passing discussion of the willingness of Himmler to allow Jews of the Karaite
sect to serve in the Waffen SS because he had "been persuaded by a Jewish rabbi that the Karaites
were racially Turkish and not Semitic" (71).
In the 10th century, the Karaite
historian Yaphet ben Heli de Basra cited that the "Land of the East" (Afghanistan, Iran and southern Central Asia) had Jewish inhabitants.
He [God] dictated [the Torah] to him word for word and Moses wrote from 'In the beginning' to 'you shall not cross there' [Deut 34:4]." (47) This claim appears to form a counter-response to the Karaite
claim that Moses was a mudawwin.
With the establishment of the Karaite
denomination, Anan dismissed all authorities, especially rabbinic authority.
There are even some of Halevi's piyyutim in Karaite
liturgy, despite his detailed rebuttal of the Karaite
beliefs and the Karaite
opposition to rabbinic Judaism in the Kuzari.