Exhibition | Out of Egypt
Sacred and Religious Texts
BY AARON HAHN TAPPER
Prayer Books (also called siddurim)
Here are three examples of prayer books, or siddurim, from the Cairene Karaite Jewish community:
- Karaite prayer book for weekday and Sabbath services; written in Hebrew.
- Karaite prayer book for Holiday services; written in Hebrew.
- Karaite prayer book for Non-Holiday days and Songs for all occasions; written in Hebrew.
What is perhaps most unique about these three prayer books are the prayers found within each of them, most of which are not found in non-Karaite, or Rabbanite, siddurim.
Notes: The online website where we are e-storing these three sacred texts, the Internet Archive, presents the books as if they are read from left to right, like English. However, because Hebrew is read from right to left, these prayer books should also be read from right to left, which is not how they appear.
Book of Psalms
This link contains the first few pages of a Book of Psalms. Originally used by Egyptian Karaite Jews in Cairo, for many Rabbanite (or non-Karaite Jews), especially those of Ashkenazi (or Eastern European/Russian descent), seeing a Book of Psalms in Arabic is counter-intuitive. Yet, as mentioned, this was the norm for Middle Eastern Jews -- Karaite and Rabbanite alike -- for centuries prior to the twentieth century.
Hagaddot [Passover Seder Books]
Below you will find three Passover Hagaddot (sing. Hagaddah), the book used during the Passover Seder ritual. The first Haggadah was originally used by the Egyptian Karaite community in Cairo, and is written in Hebrew. The second Haggadah, an Arabic transliteration of the first Hagaddah, was also used by the Egyptian Karaite community in Cairo. It was printed in 1948. The third Hagaddah was one of the first versions used by the Karaite Jews of America, once community members relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area. Although the Hebrew of this version is the same as the first Hagaddah, this was the first time these Jews also included English translations.
- Hagaddah - written in Hebrew (with some Arabic found on page 2).
- Hagaddah - translitered into Arabic from the Hebrew text of no. 1 above
- Hagaddah - written with the same Hebrew text as no. 1 (above) but with an additional English translation
Note: As noted, the online website where we are e-storing the first and second of these Hagaddot, the Internet Archive, presents these texts as if they are read from left to right, like English. However, because Hebrew is read from right to left, these Hagaddot should also be read from right to left, which is not how they appear.
Karaite Community Calendars
Written in Arabic, Hebrew, and French, below you will find a partial archive of community calendars used in Cairo by the Egyptian Karaite community between 1948 and 1963. These calendars are based on the traditional Jewish calendar, which is a composite of a lunar and solar system of time. Whereas the the first year listed for each calendar below is based on the Gregorian calendar, the second year—the one found in parentheses and seen on the calendars themselves—is the year according to the Jewish calendar.
- 1948 (5708)
- 1949 (5709)
- 1954 (5714)
- 1955 (5715)
- 1956 (5716)
- 1957 (5717)
- 1958 (5718)
- 1960 (5720)
- 1961 (5721)
- 1962 (5722)
- 1963 (5723)
Note: As noted, the online website where we are e-storing these calendars, the Internet Archive, presents these texts as if they are read from left to right, like English. However, because Hebrew is read from right to left, these texts should also be read from right to left, which is not how they appear.
Written in English, with corresponding Hebrew dates and names for Jewish months, holidays, and more, below is a sample of two calendars made by the Karaite Jews of America (KJA), based in the San Francisco Bay Area: