But perhaps most fascinating is the fact that representatives of American Karaism were at the GA at all. It wouldnâ€™t have been at all obvious to me that the GA would allow the Karaites to have a booth. Nothing is more â€œmainstreamâ€? or â€œestablishmentâ€? than the GA, and back in the day, the Karaites were the ultimate â€œother.â€?
Sure, theyâ€™re not terribly threatening now, but in the 10th century the Karaites were exponentially more of a threat to Rabbinic Judaism than Jews for Jesus could ever be. In many ways, the Karaites were the prototypical Jewish heresy.
I bring this up now to highlight a thoughtful and fascinating comment that post just received from one of the founders of the Karaite Jewish University.
As to the GA allowing Karaite Jews at their meeting, I would like to point out that it has allowed Reform Jews, Humanist Jews, Reconstructionist Jews, Renewal Jews, etc. all of whose movements do not accept that the Torah was divinely authored.
It was reported to me by Shawn Lichaa, the Dean of Academics of KJU, that we were generally well received. There were a few minor problems like one group who thought we were affiliated with Jews for Jesus and another who sought to have us don tefillin, which we view as a metaphor. (MORE)