Talk:List of Karaite Jews

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Melech ben Yaakov and Yaakov ben Israel[edit]

Melech ben Yaakov and Yaakov ben Israel are not Karaites, they have never officially joined Karaite Judaism. They have called themselves Karaites and have created some social networks from which they deceive people who seek a religious alternative in Karaite Judaism. Erick Gutiérrez (talk) 02:59, 15 November 2020 (UTC)[reply]

Yes, Melech Ben Ya'aqoy is indeed a Karaite. In order to qualify as a "Karaite", One does not need to formally be a member of a "Karaite community". Both of Melech Ben Ya'aqov's parents are Jewish and his Jewish status cannot be challenged by any Karaites nor any Rabbinites (Jews who adhere or come from the rabbinic tradition).
For many if not most Karaites, One's
"Jewishness" or Jewish status is through the father (unlike rabbinic Judaism which adheres to the principle of matrilineal descent). If One is a Jew as per Karaite Halacha (Karaite Jewish Law), they may embrace the ideology of Karaite Judaism and refer to themselves as a Karaite.
Although it may be correct that Melech Ben Ya'aqov did not formally join the "official" Karaite community (such as the Universal Karaite Judaism branch of Karaism in Israel), this does not disqualify his status of his being a "Karaite"
Melech Ben Ya'aqov formed a branch of Karaism known as the "World Alliance of Qa'arim" - an attempt to, what he calls, revive an "authentic" Karaism as it might have been before the formation of the Karaite Council of Sages. He points out that there never was a formation of an "over-ruling" body of Karaites for the whole Karaite communitys) - like what we see with the Orthodox Rabbinate today. Melech Ben Ya'aqov also believes that the formation of such a body is not within the historicity or ethical roots of Karaism.
However, in saying that, Melech Ben Ya'aqov does identify himself as a Karaite and that his movement does adhere to Karaite Judaism. He also, on the other hand, does refer to himself or others within his movement as "Neo-Karaites". By including the definition of "neo-Karaites" for his movement, Melech Ben Ya'aqov clearly makes a distinction between his movement and the more "original" Karaite Jewish branches. Ergo, a modern, updated or revived version of potentially historic Karaism.
By doing so, Melech Ben Ya'aqov relinquishes himself of the responsibility of adhering to the older Karaite *customs* whilst fundamentally maintaining basic Karaite religious principles. All of his personal conclusions or understandings regarding matters such as Torah law do not contradict traditional Karaite thought or Karaite Jewish Law.
Does one have to be recognised by the Israeli orthodox rabbinate in order to be orthodox? Myself and many others would say no. The same principle applies here with Melech Ben Ya'aqov. (talk) 00:30, 6 February 2024 (UTC)[reply]

This is laughable. Both Melech BY & Yaakov BY are extremely knowledgeable in the areas of Tanach and Biblical Hebrew, and, as far as I can see, make an earnest attempt to adhere to the straightforward meanings of the Torah as they understand them. This is, by definition, a Karaite. I would claim, therefore, that the above statement is merely a public airing of internal Karaite politics and not representative of the facts on the ground. Qtyymz (talk) 18:19, 2 October 2021 (UTC)[reply]

Annan a Karaite?[edit]

All serious scholars of Karaism have come to the same conclusion about Anan ben David - he was not a Karaite. This is very clearly shown in the writings of the most prominent Karaite Hakhamim such as Daniel Al-Kumisi and Ya'acov Al-Kirkisani. The foremost of all scholars of karaism in the past century, Leon Nemoy, agreed with this as well.--Josiah 14:51, 19 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Al-Kirkisani wrote a religious polemic, and it is not clear to me exactly what he said about Anan vis a vis Karaism. Anyway, I'm looking for historians. So far you've got Nemoy, what exactly did he say?

Al-Kirkisani wrote some religous polemics, history of the jewish sects up to his time, commentaries on the tanakh, a book about translations, and other things as well. Anyways, Nemoy you want, and Nemoy you shall have. It should be noted that no other scholar has devoted more research to Karaite literature, at least for those of us who speak English. He distinguishes between Ananites and Karaites by the use of the respective names, many of which I will not quote. The following are places he distinguishes between Anan's adherants and the adherants of Karaism -
Karaite Anthology, Introduction page XIX - "To the sec of Ananites there were added in the ninth century other dissident groups, some in Iraq, some in the provinces to the east and west organized by later schismatic teachers: Ismail al-Ukbari, of the town of Ukbara in IRaq, a sharp critic of Anan; Benjamin al-Nahawandi, of the city of Nahawand (Nihavend) in Persia, a mild a reasonable individual; and Malik al-Ramli; a native of al-Ramla in Palestine. Another Iraqi sectarian, Musa (Moses), surnamed al-Zafarani after his native district in the captital city of Bagdad, migrated to Tiflis in Armenia, where he presided over his own group of followers and became known as Abu Imran al-Tiflisi. In Ukbara Ismail's place was taken by Misawayh al-Ukbari, who appears to have been something of a cynic - a rather unusual trait in early Karaism. With Daniel al-Kumisi, a resident of the city of Damagan in the northern Persian province of Kumis and an able scholar, Karaism reached the tenth century."
Karaite Anthology, Page 7 - the following is in reference to accounts of Anan's life - "The next account, in chronological order, that of Al-Kirkisani, a devout Karaite, though not an Ananite, and an outspoken foe of Rabbanism, likewise contains no reference to Anan's noble lineage and his unsuccessful candidacy for the office of exilarch."
Karaite Anthology, Page 8 - "The fact, however, is that while Anan freely used Rabbainte exegitical and juridical methods, he came to entirely diverge conclusions, in contrast to Benjamin Al-Nahawandi, who employed distintcly Karaite methods of legal exegesis but came to many conclusions identical with or closely parallel to Rabbanite legal norms."
Karaite Anthology, Page 10 - "Al-kirisani states also that anan was reported in the 10th century to have written a treatise on the transmigration of souls, a doctrine to which he was said to have subscribed and which was accepted by some tenth-century Ananites." (Compare to earlier quote which mentions that Al-Kirkisani was a Karaite, and not an Ananite)
Karaite Anthology, Page 30 - speaking of Daniel Al-Kumisi "A man o f great learning and independent frame of mind, Daniel did not hesitate to differe sharply with both Anan and Bejamin [...] dubbing Anan a 'champion fool.'"
If other quotations are requested, I will provide them.--Josiah 03:06, 20 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Non-Karaite sources:

The story that the sect was founded by Anan ben David when he was passed over for the position of exilarch in Babylonia, is viewed with a degree of scepticism by modern scholars while they acknowledge that Anan was a prominent Karaite leader. Jacobs, Louis. Oxford Concise Companion to the Jewish Religion. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press (1999); pg. 121.

Karaites or Caraites (both: kâr´ts) (KEY) , Jewish schismatic sect, reputedly founded (8th cent.) in Persia by Anan ben David and originally known as Ananites. Its adherents were called Karaites after the 9th cent. [1] - This article uses Nemoy as a source.

Karaite sources:

...the first universally recognized leader of Karaism was ‘Anan Ben-Dawid. A member of an aristocratic Rabbinite family, he discovered the follies of Rabbanism, and wrote the first systematic non-Rabbinic theological document. While Karaism existed before him, this is why he is often noted as the father of Karaism. [2]

The above source may or may not be reliable. The author is an Ashkenazi Jew that converted from Rabbinical Judaism to Karaite Judaism studying under the late Hakham Mordechai Alfandri. After his death, he began making up claims that he was always a Karaite, that his mother was a Crimean Karaite, and that was his native language, etc. When he refused to cease these stories, he was kicked out of the World Karaite Movement [3] by Hakham Gordon, who is part of the UKJ's Council of Hakhamim in Israel (the UKJ is the ruling body of Karaites in Israel). While he seems to has maintained contact with the community in Ashdod, I cannot accept him as a reliable source.--Josiah 03:22, 20 Oct 2004 (UTC)

The above statement is nothing more than libel. The article reffered to was written by a member of the Karaite Jews of America congregation in Daly City, California, and is based on information taken from “The Karaite Jews of Egypt” by Mourad El-Kodsi (Principal of the Karaite schools in Cairo from 1744 to 1956, member and chairman of many Karaite organisations in Cairo from 1944 to 1959, member and secretary of the Karaite religious council in Egypt for 10 years, and current public relations liason for the Karaite Jews of America). The so-called World Karaite Movement is not the representative of the Karaite community in Israel (that is the UKJ) and has no standing within the community. It was founded by an ex-Rabbanite and most of its members (like the author of the above libel) are not considered Karaites (or even Jews) by the Karaite community. 20:51, 19 March 2006 (UTC)

The above statement is untrue about the World Karaite Movement. Infact Hakham Nehemia Gordon is recognized by the UKJ as is Hakham Mier Rekhavi. In fact they both are involved in the Karaite Jewish University which has the full support of the KJA, UKJ, and WKM. Hakham Gordon is even on the serveral boards dealing with Karaites in Israel and is regularly in contact with the Moetzet Hakhamim. Therefore, the above statement should be amended to remove the libel posted about the WKM as well as its founders. - Ivan 11:14am, 03/27/2008 (UTC + 5) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:17, 27 March 2008 (UTC)[reply]

When Tanya Magram came to live in Kibbutz Hulata with her husband and infant daughter four years ago, she knew just enough Hebrew to ask, "Are there any Karaites in Israel?" As a child in Melitopol, just north of the Crimean peninsula, she had heard her grandmother tell of Anan Ben-David, the eighth-century founder of the Karaite movement who built a synagogue in the holy city of Jerusalem. He and his followers rejected the authority of the Talmud, and called for a return to Jewish law as laid out in the Torah. [4]

In the 8th century, Karaism was initiated by Anan ben David in Mesopotamia...Anan Ben David, the founder of the actual Karaite religion [5]

  • The above sources refer to the Crimean Karaites, who as I (and the site you cited earlier [6] have mentioned, learned the myths promoted externally during the times of the czars as facts under after the communist revolution.--Josiah 03:22, 20 Oct 2004 (UTC)
    • I should clarify that I am not saying that Karaism, as a whole, did not respect Anan. While many Karaites Sages did not respect Anan at all (such as Daniel Al-Kumisi), others gave him a high level of respect. He did not, however, "found" Karaism. If I can find a photocopy of it on the web, there is a Muslim manuscript which mentions Karaites in Egypt before Anan's lifetime.--Josiah 01:38, 24 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Overhaul of Article[edit]

I made an overhaul of the list. I have added material from Karaite Judaism, some of which was transferred here because they were not prominent enough to be included where they were in the original article. I've also reorganized the article by dividing the list into historical time periods and alphabetized the names within each grouping. Additionally, I've added years living when it was readily available to me, as well as details of the people where the information had been previously missing from the list, or the existing information was insufficient. See also recent discussion in Talk:Karaite Judaism for some of the background on what lead to the initial editing of this article. When those edits mentioned there were being done here, I felt that this article was in need of extra attention. — al-Shimoni (talk) 01:32, 23 July 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Nehemia Gordon as a Prominent Karaite[edit]

Anonymous editor ( removed the statement next to Nehemia Gordon's entry which stated that Gordon was arguably one of the best known modern day Karaites. This has been discussed elsewhere. I undid the edit.

While I am aware of the discontent among modern Karaites concerning Gordon and his association with non-Karaites, this has not changed his status as a Karaite. As far as anyone is publicly aware, he has not converted away from Karaism, and thus has neither converted away from Judaism. The official Karaite body in Israel is aware of his activities, and although — from what I understand — some of them are a little uneasy with the situation, they have not decided anything against him. Even if he were to have converted, or does in the future, or the Mo'etze Hakhamim decided something against his status, it would not change the fact that he was a Karaite previously.

As far as his prominence, this is currently indisputable (if someone in the future rises above him in public awareness, then we can assuredly change the statement to reflect the new reality). Outside of Karaism (as well as outside and within mainstream Judaism), there is no Karaite currently living who is more widely known. In Israeli news articles concerning the Karaites and their community, he is frequently used by the writers of those articles as a primary source (no other Karaite is so frequently used). This also occurs outside of Erets Israel. He is also well known outside of Judaism — particularly in the United States — due to his frequent speaking tours, appearances on television, and due to his association with the late American football player Reggie White. Again, no other Karaite is so prominently treated.

Wikipedia is no a place to make political statements (and although this has a religious aspect, the desire to remove association of Gordon with Karaism is political). Wikipedia deals with facts as they are. If anyone has anything factual that can dispute the above, please present them. If a consensus can be achieved that changes the statements as they stand now, we can adjust accordingly.

al-Shimoni (talk) 19:21, 29 July 2011 (UTC)[reply]

First of all, facts are NOT determined by consensus or a majority vote, regardless of what you believe about this. And I for one hope you are not in a position to suppress fact-based adjustments here that are not to your personal liking, mister al-Shimoni.

I do not dispute even for a split second Gordon's Jewishness and the fact he has certainly never apostated. However, while Gordon still occasionally keeps on referring to himself as a Qaraite, I have noticed him *constantly* referring in his writings to the "minor" fasts in Judaism solely by their Rabbinical names, for many years now. He has also adhered to the Rabbinical Torah & Hafṭarah cycles, though the Qaraite Hafṭarah portions are considerably different on many weeks than their Rabbinical equivalents. Not a single Qaraite conducts themselves like this where those 2 aspects are concerned. Next, he stated 2 months ago at Speaker's Corner in London during a conversation with some Shiite Muslim, "We [the Jews] pray 3 times a day" (listen to the first 9 seconds at, where he stated something additional that is un-Qaraite). Not a single Qaraite Jew would make such a statement without even the slightest reservation or disclaimer intended to clarify that they were describing the Rabbinical practice.

The aforementioned facts DID change his status as a Qaraite - or perhaps it is more accurate to establish he was never exactly Qaraite to begin with, but rather a quasi-Qaraite Jewish Scripturalist - no matter how much you may hate this. There is no "converting away" within Judaism, as all one needs to do to abandon one denomination and be considered at least unofficially a member of another Jewish denomination is to embrace all its beliefs, doctrines, dogma and practices. No Jew is under any obligation to publicly announce their decision to do so and their actual move. As far as I know, during the past decade Gordon effectively abandoned the Qaraite Community (the main group of Qaraites in Israel and abroad, whose members are officially known to be Qaraite) for all intents and purposes. Therefore, raising the possibility that the official Qaraite body in Israel might decide anything about him or against him was rendered quite irrelevant long ago, assuming this body even has the power to decide such things.

The facts I have raised here are NOT political statements. There is already sufficient factual ground to partly remove Gordon's association with Qaraite Judaism on this website. You cannot cherrypick which facts you want to do justice to, as if they were a restaurant menu. I hope you will eventually have enough sense to stand back when others alter some of the assertions on this site about Gordon so as to reflect ALL the pertinent facts. -Zvi 01:47 PM, 05/20/2021

I have just created for Nehemia Gordon a sub-category, as it were, of quasi-Qaraite Jewish Scripturalists, since sufficient hard evidence has been found that he is no longer Qaraite. I can only hope nobody will tamper with this change. If anyone has solid evidence to justify the placement of other Jewish individuals in this sub-category, they are welcome to do so. -Zvi 03:59 PM, 05/20/2021 — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:00, 20 May 2021 (UTC)[reply]


Some sources seem to indicate the Polish mathematician Wacław Sierpiński belongs on this page...? —Hobart (talk) 01:24, 4 November 2016 (UTC)[reply]