Exhibition | Out of Egypt
BY AARON HAHN TAPPER
In basic ways, the centuries-old way of life that Karaite Jews had in Egypt no longer exists. Although members of the Egyptian Karaite Jewish community re-established themselves in two central places -- the state of Israel and the United States -- and were able to continue their communities' long and rich histories in both locations, the way in which they lived alongside Egyptian Muslim Arabs is no longer a reality.
In this part of this exhibit, you will find a small sample of digitized cultural and religious artifacts from the Egyptian Karaite community both from Cairo and from the San Francisco Bay Area. These artifacts -- books, flyers, bulletins, calendars -- are an embodiment of this community, both in their past Egyptian communal life as well as their life now, in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Many of the texts originally printed in Egypt juxtapose Hebrew alongside Arabic. For some twenty-first-century Jews, seeing these languages seamlessly co-exist on the page might seem strange. Yet prior to the latter half of the twentieth-century, this normative expression of Judaism existed for millennia across the Middle East, among Rabbanite and Karaite Jews alike. Finally, even if one doesn’t read Arabic, Hebrew, or French, one can gain a better understanding of this community by looking at these digitized artifacts.