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Important New Discoveries


BRIEF:  A rare books dealer in Jerusalem recently delivered a manuscript to us, written mainly in Karaite Judaeo-Tartar, for identification.  The manuscript turned out to be a collection of poetry.  The collection was composed by two Hakhamim, a father and son.  Importantly, very importantly, there were a few items of Hebrew in the collection.  What is significant about these items is two fold.  One poem, written in 1936, clearly shows, at least on the part of the author, an awareness that Karaites are Jews.  Given that this poetry originated at a time when Karaites in Eastern Europe had supposedly ceased identifying themselves as Jews, this is quite significant.  The poem is as below:

One of the issues of debate in the Karaite community today is centered around the use and, subsequently, pronunciation of Godís Name.  Certain elements within the community, admittedly the majority, have refrained from pronouncing the Name (HaShem HaMeforash), and use the Hebrew word for "Lord" (Adonai) as a substitute for Godís Name.  The other side of this debate contend that historically Karaites have used Godís Name.  According to this contingent, use of HaShem HaMeforash has declined in the community since the advent of Rabbanite influence; but, like the Karaites of Khorasan mentioned by al-Qirqisani, consider the use of Adonai in place of HaShem HaMeforash a grave error.  It is therefore quite significant that this manuscript contained a pointed version of HaShem HaMeforash - not only showing that Karaites at the time of the author (the early 20th century) knew the pronunciation of HaShem HaMeforash, but also that how they pronounced it is consistent with the pronunciation of those in the community who use HaShem HaMeforash today.  The text is as below (enlarged to show the vowel-points):

The significance of the items mentioned above cannot be ignored.  As we learn more about this exciting discovery, we will release more information.