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The National Karaite Movement - Babovich, Simha



Karaite Hakham in the Crimea and the central figure in the early phase of the National Karaite movement. He obtained for the Karaites of Russia the exemption from military service, which continued to be compulsory for Rabbanites. The Karaites of Eupatoria commemorated this event every year by a special prayer. He and his descendants dominated from then on Karaite affairs in the Crimea. His agitation for Karaite interests achieved its main success in 1837, with the granting of religious autonomy. He was helped by Abraham Firkovich, who accompanied him in 1830 on a visit to the Holy Land. In order to be guided in its future policy towards the Karaites, the Russian government instructed Babovich to provide detailed information on the origin, customs and history of the Karaites. He instructed Firkovich to assemble this material. As a result the Karaites were granted in 1840 the status of an independent church, and were put on an equal footing with the Muslims, which gave them far superior rights to those of the Rabbanites. Two dioceses were set up, one of them in Feodosia, in the Crimea, of which Babovich became the first Hakham. He adopted for the Karaites of the Crimea the Rabbanite 19­year cycle of calendation, originally accepted in Turkey by the Bashyatchi family.