Lecture: Karaite Judaism: An Alternative to the Religion of the Rabbis with Fred Astren

Tuesday, October 13, 2020
05:00 PM - 06:15 PM


Department of Jewish Studies
Rachel Gross


In the Middle Ages a religious movement came on the scene that posed a serious challenge to rabbinic leadership across the Jewish world. Karaism opposed the rabbis, rejected the Talmud, and called for a return to the Hebrew Bible. For two centuries preceding the Crusader conquest of Jerusalem, the city was a flourishing center of Karaite life, learning, and publishing. On one hand, Karaites established themselves as a stable social presence in Jewish communities across the Islamic Near East. On the other hand, they and the rabbis fought for power and over the proper way to be a Jew. Karaism persisted for centuries in many places in the Near East and Europe. Even today, there remain two Karaite communitiesa small one in Israel, and an even smaller one in the Bay Area. The Karaites remind us that in Jewish history there have been many Judaisms.


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