Karaite Jews

  • Issue: May 2001
  • Designer: Eli Carmeli
  • Stamp Size: 25.7 mm x 40 mm
  • Plate no.: 441 - no phosphor bar
  • Sheet of 15 stamps Tabs: 5
  • Printers: E. Lewin-Epstein ltd.
  • Method of printing: Offset

The Karaite Jews are an inseparable part of the Jewish people who believe
in keeping the one written Torah (together with the Prophets and the Holy Writings) given to Moses at the Revelation of Sinai. For the purposes of determining religious law the Karaites accept any interpretation, law, or tradition that derives from the Scripture itself while interpreting the Torah according to its plain meaning.

Some of the Karaite sages ascribe the nascence of Karaism to the First Temple period, after the death of King Solomon and the split of the Kingdom into the Kingdom of Judah and the Kingdom of Israel. In his book, "The Kuzari", the Rabbanite poet and philosopher Yehudah HaLevi ascribed the establishment of Karaism to the Second Temple era, specifically to the year 3704 since creation, Year 81 of the Hasmonean Kingdom (57 BCE).

The split between the Rabbanite and Karaite Jews was an accomplished
fact by the 8th Century CE, the period of the Karaite teacher Anan Hanasi (of blessed memory), a descendant of the family of the Babylonian Exilarch, to whom many attribute the founding of Karaism. Anan immigrated to Eretz Yisrael and established a large spiritual center in Jerusalem that was active in biblical exegesis and contributed to the development of the Hebrew language and grammar, as well as love for the People and Land of Israel. Among the ancient sites connected with the history of the Karaite Jews are the ancient cemeteries in Hebron and Emek Yehoshafat and the 8th Century synagogue in the old city, Jerusalem. An illustration of the synagogue —is on the First Day Cover of the stamp.

There arre a number of differences between Rabbanite and Karaite Judaism, which find expression in areas such as the calculation of the calendar according to the potential visibility of the new moon, Sabbath laws, marriage and divorce laws, ritual purity and Kashruth. The Karaite prayer book is based entirely on the Hebrew Bible.

Between the 8th and 20th Centuries Karaites communities could be found in different parts of the world, especially in Eastern Europe (Russia and Poland) and in the Middle East (Turkey, Egypt, Iraq, and Syria). Today there are also Karaite Jews in the United States, France, and Switzerland.

Most of the Karaite Jews immigrated to Israel because of a divine injunction anchored in the Torah of Israel and its prophets and in accordance with the Law of Return. Today the largest community of Karaite Jews is located in the State of Israel, mainly in Ramla, Ashdod, Ofakim, Beersheba, Moshav Matzliah, Kiryat Gat, Holon, Bat Yam, and Jerusalem.

The Karaite Jews are integrated into all areas of Israeli society in a variety of professions and occupations. They serve in the Israel Defense Force and Security Services. Of note was the service of the late Dr. Moshe Marzouk, a member of the Karaite Community who was executed in Egypt together with his comrade the late Shmuel Azar, during the incident that became known simply as 'The Affair'.

Rabbi Hayyim ben Yitzchak HaLevy
Community Chairman

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The Karaite Jews