14 Facts About Crimean Karaites


Today, many Crimean Karaites reject ethnic Semitic origins theories and identify as descendants of the Khazars.

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In 19th century Crimea, Crimean Karaites began to distinguish themselves from other Jewish groups, sending envoys to the czars to plead for exemptions from harsh anti-Jewish legislation.

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Miller says that Crimean Karaites did not start claiming a distinct identity apart from the Jewish people before the 19th century, and that such leaders as Avraham Firkovich and Sima Babovich encouraged this position to avoid the strong antisemitism of the period.

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The Lithuanian Crimean Karaites settled primarily in Vilnius and Trakai, as well as in Birzai, Pasvalys, Naujamiestis and Upyte – smaller settlements throughout Lithuania proper.

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Lithuanian Crimean Karaites settled in lands of modern Belarus and Ukraine, which were part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

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Later all Jews, including Crimean Karaites, were placed under the authority of the Rabbinite "Council of Four Lands" and "Council of the Land of Lithuania" taxation .

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The Yiddish-speaking Rabbinites considered the Turkic-speaking Crimean Karaites to be apostates, and kept them in a subordinate and depressed position.

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In 1646, the Crimean Karaites obtained the expulsion of the Rabbinites from Trakai.

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German allies such as Vichy France began to require the Crimean Karaites to register as Jews, but eventually granted them non-Jewish status after getting orders by Berlin.

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When interrogated, Ashkenazi rabbis in Crimea told the Germans that Crimean Karaites were not Jews, in an effort to spare the Karaite community the fate of their Rabbanite neighbors.

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Many Crimean Karaites risked their lives to hide Jews, and in some cases claimed that Jews were members of their community.

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Name "Crimean Karaites" has often been considered as something of a misnomer, as many branches of this community found their way to locations throughout Europe.

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Nevertheless, this name, "Crimean Karaites" is used for the Turkic-speaking Karaites community supposed to have originated in Crimea, distinguishing it from the historically Aramaic, Hebrew, and Arabic-speaking Karaites of the Middle East.

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Crimean Karaites made a number of other changes aimed at the Karaim's Turkification and at erasing the Karaite Jewish elements of their culture and language.

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