Prof. Paul Goble discusses the impending extinction of the Karaim people

by Paul A. Goble  |  May 14, 2013  |  ARTICLES

The following article by Prof. Paul Goble appeared on his blog, Window on Eurasia.

Window on Eurasia: The Ancient and Mysterious Karaims Now Face Extinction

Staunton, May 13 - The Karaims, an ancient people surrounded in mystery because of their combination of Jewish, Christian and Muslim characteristics, are at the edge of extinction in both Ukraine and the Russian Federation, a situation that neither Kyiv nor Moscow seems ready or able to combat.

In an article on the "Kavkavskaya politika" portal today entitled "The Jews of the Caucasus," Zaur Karayev tells something about this unusual people whose religion is usually considered a branch of Judaism but which in a highly unusual way "combines in itself elements of Christianity and Islam" (kavpolit.com/iudei-kavkaza/).

Scholars have been arguing about the Karaim for most of the last two centuries, Karayev notes. Until the 20th century, most suggested that they were of Jewish origin given their basic religious practice, "but this theory has several shortcomings," he continues, including the date of their emergence and the distinction between the Karaim as an ethnic group and Karaimism as a sect within Judaism.

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