Samaritan & Karaite Traditions

Samaritans Celebrating Sukkoth

Some students in the a recent geography class that I covered asked me regarding the differences that exist between normative rabbinic Judaism and Samaritan Judaism. We covered the Fall of Samaria at the hands of Assyria by Shalmaneser V and Sargon II. This is a nice article regarding differing Samaritan tradition regarding Sukkoth.

Ancient Samaritans celebrate different Sukkot in West Bank

by Saud Abu Ramada, Hua Chunyu, Emad Drimly

NABLUS, West Bank, Oct. 5 (Xinhua) — As Jewish people all around Israel are celebrating their traditional feast of Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles), in northern West Bank, Samaritans, a small religious sect who consider themselves descendants of the ancient northern Kingdom of Israel, are also celebrating Sukkot, but in a somehow different way.

In the village of Kiryat Luza on Mount Gerizim near the West Bank city of Nablus, the Samaritan priest and Director of Samaritan’s Museum Husney W. Kohen and his family have built theirin-door Sukkah (Tabernacles) with fruits of the holy land. Kohen said the sukkah was built to recall the same Tabernacle build by ancient Israelites after they left Sinai Desert in Egypt 3,500 years ago.

Priest Kohen considers himself as one of the best among his people in building up the sukkah. According to Kohen and his family, the sukkah was made up of 300-400 kg of fruits, and it took them eight hours to put the sukkah together.

The Samaritan sect celebrate Sukkot every year, just as the world’s Jews do. Although, the basic principles of the two sects are the same, however, each celebrates their own feast differently. See rest here: Ancient Samaritans celebrate different Sukkot in West Bank.

Go here to see a wonderful photo blog on the Samaritan celebration of Shavuot: Captured: The Annual Holiday of Shavuot

*Karaite Jews preparing for Sukkot

Karaite Jews prepare for Succot with a lemon twist

300 people are expected to attend holiday services at the ancient Karaite synagogue in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City.

According to mainstream or rabbinical Judaism the answer is correct. But if you ask Karaite Jews, members of an ancient Jewish movement which strictly adheres to the Bible and ignores the Talmud and rabbinical law, the answer is more complicated.

“The Torah does not talk about hadass, but of etz avot, which is boughs of thick trees and can be from any tree, not just the myrtle,” Maor Dabah, the educational coordinator for the Universal Karaite Judaism Movement, told The Jerusalem Post last week.

“There’s no disagreement over the arava. Regarding the lulav, the command is to use the palm-shaped date. But the lulav isn’t palm-shaped,” he said.

What about the etrog, the revered citron which is the prize possession of many Jewish families during the holiday and can fetch prices of up to a few hundred dollars on the market? Karaite Jews disregard it completely.

“Again, Torah does not use the word etrog. It talks about peri etz hadar, that’s mean ‘fruit of goodly tree’ and can be any fruit which is new and fancy. Citron etrogs are relatively new imports; there were none in the Land of Israel during the First Temple, so we use regular lemons, oranges or olives instead. From Nehemia 8:14 we can easily learn that the commandment of the Four Species of Succot is to build the succa from them, and not to play with them by our hands.” See rest here:

HT: J. Lauer!


4 thoughts on “Samaritan & Karaite Traditions

  1. “Samaritan Judaism”?! Get your facts straight. There’s no such creature any more than you’d find Shinto Judaism.
    The Samaritans have always refused to identify as Jews let alone recognize the sanctity of Jslm and Har Habayit (Temple Mt.) and all Jewish movements view them as non-Jews.
    You must get over the temptation to consider their religion a form of Judaism or a bona fide movement of Judaism.

  2. @Zvi, Although they do not consider themselves Jews, nor do they recognize the sanctity of the Temple Mount, if they are in fact (As they claim) descendants of Yisrael, shouldn’t they still be identified as a part of our people? Just as if a Jewish man were to become a Christian he would still be known as a Jew, just as we are, simply because he is of our descent. Also for those of the Karaites, they reject the sanctity of Talmud, and still they are recognized as Jews? And what of the ethiopian Jews (Beta Israel)? we have no proof that they are related to us, nor do we have the same beliefs as them, and still we consider them family! So do not choose to identify who is Jew and who is not, leave that up to the sages.

    • They are part of the House of Israel in extraction, yet religiously they try to have it both ways: on one hand they consider us part of the same people to which they belong (albeit belonging to a separate Community) while on the other they refuse to let even the most devout Qaraite Jew eat even one morsel of the roasted lambs they sacrifice yearly, which makes us out gentiles in their view practically. I’m sure they’ve concocted excuses that make perfect sense to them but defy all logic and therefore cannot convince any individual without a zealous pro-Samaritan bias.

      The Beta Yisra’el have almost totally assimilated in the Rabbanite mainstream under Orthodox approval and oversight, so their religious past is a moot question in this regard.

      Though I don’t submit to your sages and maintain that Qaraite sages’ opinions are equally valid and even mine (I’ll remind you there are probably as much as millions of Jews who refuse to allow Rabbinic sages to do their thinking for them), even early rabbis rendered their final opinion in pre-Talmudic times that the Samaritans aren’t Jewish, so I fail to fathom what you’re so indignant about.


      • Of course Samaritans aren’t Jews.At most they are Israelites and even that is probably partial only.But on the other hand their way of practicing the religion of Moses is perhaps more accurate than the rabbinical transformations and interpretations. We can learn from anyone either Jew or non Jew.

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