(redirected from Caraites)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus.
Related to Caraites: Karaism, Karaite Judaism


Karaites or Caraites (both: kârˈəīts), form of Judaism, reputedly founded (8th cent.) in Persia by Anan ben David and originally known as Ananites. Its adherents were called Karaites after the 9th cent. The Karaites rejected the Talmudic interpretation of the Bible (see Talmud), 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).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



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.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.