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(both: kâr`əīts), form of Judaism, reputedly founded (8th cent.) in Persia by Anan ben DavidAnan ben David
, fl. 8th cent., Babylonian Jewish theologian, founder of the Ananites from whom the Karaites claim spiritual descent. He is said to have been a descendant of Bostanai ben Chaninai.
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 and originally known as Ananites. Its adherents were called Karaites after the 9th cent. The Karaites rejected the Talmudic interpretation of the Bible (see TalmudTalmud
[Aramaic from Heb.,=learning], in Judaism, vast compilation of the Oral Law with rabbinical elucidations, elaborations, and commentaries, in contradistinction to the Scriptures or Written Laws. The Talmud is the accepted authority for Orthodox Jews everywhere.
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), and they developed their own commentaries, which were in many respects more rigorous and ascetic than the Talmudic interpretations. In the 10th cent. they produced a splendid literature in both Arabic and Hebrew. The sect declined after the 12th cent., but remnants are still extant, notably in Israel and the United States.


See Karaite Anthology (ed. and tr. by L. Nemoy, 1952), Z. Ankori, Karaites in Byzantium: The Formative Years, 970–1100 (1957, repr. 1968); P. Birnbaum, ed., Karaite Studies (1971).



a small nationality living in the cities of the Crimean Oblast and several other oblasts of the Ukrainian SSR, in Trakai Raion of the Lithuanian SSR, and in Poland. Their language belongs to the Kipchak group of the Turkic languages. At the present time, the Karaites in the USSR speak mainly Russian, and their way of life and activities are not unlike those of the neighboring peoples. Religious Karaites belong to the Karaite sect, whose only holy book is the Old Testament.

The Karaites are considered to be the descendants of Turkic tribes in the Khazar Kaganate. After the defeat of the kaganate by Kievan princes in the tenth century, the Karaites remained in the Crimea. In the late 14th century some of the Karaites were resettled in Lithuania and the western regions of the Ukraine as prisoners of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The Karaites have preserved a rich folklore, which reflects their historical ties with the Khazars.


Narody Evropeiskoi chasti SSSR, vol. 2. Moscow, 1964.
References in periodicals archive ?
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What kind of people were the descendants of Tartars and Poles, Lithuanians, Belorussians, Karaites, and all the others whom persecutions, harms, and miseries had driven to the Northern forests and marshes?
Having had to transform the Oral Tora into a new written one, we have become Karaites of this new Written Tora, forced upon us by external circumstances.
55) John Dury and Increase Mather suggested that the Karaites, Jewish sectarians who rejected the authority of the Talmud, would participate in the battle as well.
Y Agnon, who knew Tarnow and was wont to discuss Ankori's specialty on Karaites and Byzantium.
The Karaites settled in and around Trakai in the late 14th century and, up until today, they continue to live within their own community, demonstrating their own way of life and speaking their own language.