Karaites - (From the Hebrew - "To read"). The Kara'ites are a sect of Jews who believe that only the Tanach (Old Testament Bible) have divine authority, and that the Mishna and Talmud are not divinely inspired. The sect began in the eighth century in Babylon.
The founder of the Karaites is thought to be. Anan ben David, a Jewish scholar in eighth century Iraq. One version claims that talmudic Judaism was undergoing stagnation at the time, and Ben David thought to revive Judaism by the stimulus of renewed Biblical and Hebrew research, under the influence of Islamic scholarship. A different version claims that the Karaite sect arose because of competition between ben David and his bother for the post of Ezilarch. His followers were called the Ananites as firsts, and included some of the greatest Jewish personalities of the day. They were renamed Karaites in the next century by Benjamin of Nahavend.
Karaism was opposed successfully by Saadiya Hagaon (882-942). Egypt became the chief center of Karaism until it was weakened by the authority and reputation of Maimonides in the twelfth century. Karaites spread to Byzantium and Asia Minor, and existed for a brief period in eleventh century Spain. From the twelfth century there were Karaites in Russia and Lithuania, where they were often treated more hospitably by the Christian host communities than the orthodox Jews. In Europe a remnant of Karaites apparently intermixed with or got confounded with, a Turkish minority, eventually known as Karaylar Karaites. It is unclear if these are actually descendants of Jewish Karaites or if they simply have the same name - "Karaim." (see here for details) The Karayler-Karaite minority were recognizes as non-Jews by the Nazis and saved from the Holocaust for the most part.
Karaites keep all the major Jewish customs with significant differences that reflect the departure of Judaism from the Torah and additional changes that may made, separate from those of rabbinical Judaism. Thus, for example, they celebrate all holidays according to the original uncorrected lunar calendar, and fast for more than the requisite 24 hours on Yom Kippur.
Most Karaites now live in Israel. Their center is in a Moshav near Ramleh, which had a large Karaite community in the Middle Ages. where they have their own religious courts. They cannot intermarry with rabbinic Jews.
Following is a Karaite profession of faith.
The Karaite "Declaration of Faith"
The Karaite Declaration of Faith, called Tuv Ta'am (after the first two words in Hebrew) has been recited in the Karaite Synagogue on High Holidays since at least the 13th Century, with an abridged version being recited twice daily. The Karaite "Declaration of Faith" consists of a series of statements read aloud by the Hazan (cantor). The congregation responds to each statement by emphatically shouting Emet! meaning "Truth!". The Karaite "Declaration of Faith" includes the main principles and practices which give Karaism its unique character including:
Synonyms and alternate spellings:
Hebrew/Arabic pronunciation and transliteration conventions:
'H - ('het) a guttural sound made deep in the throat. To Western ears it may sound like the "ch" in loch. In Arabic there are several letters that have similar sounds. Examples: 'hanukah, 'hamas, 'haredi. Formerly, this sound was often represented by ch, especially in German transliterations of Hebrew. Thus, 'hanukah is often rendered as Chanuka for example.
ch - (chaf) a sound like "ch" in loch or the Russian Kh as in Khruschev or German Ach, made by putting the tongue against the roof of the mouth. In Hebrew, a chaf can never occur at the beginning of a word. At the beginning of a word, it has a dot in it and is pronounced "Kaf."
u - usually between oo as in spoon and u as in put.
a- sounded like a in arm
ah- used to represent an a sound made by the letter hey at the end of a word. It is the same sound as a. Haganah and Hagana are alternative acceptable transliterations.
'a-notation used for Hebrew and Arabic ayin, a guttural ah sound.
o - close to the French o as in homme.
th - (taf without a dot) - Th was formerly used to transliterate the Hebrew taf sound for taf without a dot. However in modern Hebrew there is no detectable difference in standard pronunciation of taf with or without a dot, and therefore Histadruth and Histadrut, Rehovoth and Rehovot are all acceptable.
q- (quf) - In transliteration of Hebrew and Arabic, it is best to consistently use the letter q for the quf, to avoid confusion with similar sounding words that might be spelled with a kaf, which should be transliterated as K. Thus, Hatiqva is preferable to Hatikva for example.
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