Rules for the Attendance of a Karaite Jewish Synagogue

The sanctuary of Karaite Jews of America, Daly City, California.

This post courtesy Karaite Hackam Moshe Firrouz:
 
Terms:
 
Day: Biblical “days” begin and end at sunset.
 
“Fresh” Water: Clean water that is fit to drink; standing water is invalid.
 
Major Impurity
 
Any impurity that causes a person to be impure for seven days. Any object or person who was touched by a person with a major impurity becomes impure. This object or person must be washed by fresh water and will become pure only after the following sunset.
 
Minor Impurity
 
Any impurity that causes a person to be impure until sunset. This person must be washed by fresh water and will become pure only after the following sunset. A person with a minor impurity does not pass on the impurity to other objects.
 
Causes of Major Impurity
A. Touching a dead body or being in the same room as a dead body.
B. Menstrual impurity (counted for seven days from when a woman first sees menstrual blood).
C. Accidentally engaging in sexual activity with a woman in a state of menstrual impurity.
 
A person who has contracted either a major or a minor impurity is forbidden from entering a traditional Karaite synagogue or touching anything related to the synagogue. Before entering the synagogue a person must perform the appropriate purification ritual.
Purification from a major impurity
 
Towards the end of the seventh day of a “major” impurity, the person must wash his entire body in fresh (“potable”) water, i.e. a shower or stream, before sunset. (Note: A person who has touched a dead body or who has been in the same room as a dead body must also wash himself on the third day.) Immersing oneself in a “Mikveh” is not valid for purification because it does not contain fresh water (Heb. Mayim Chayim). After washing in fresh water the person must put on a set of clean clothes. After sunset (and after having washed) the person becomes clean and then may enter the traditional Karaite synagogue.
 
Important Note: The person remains impure indefinitely until this procedure is performed.
 
Causes of Minor Impurity
A. Sexual behavior.
B. Night emission ( “wet dream”).
C. Touching a woman in a state of menstrual impurity.
D. Touching the carcass of a dead animal.
E. Eating non-Kosher food.
 
A person who has contracted either a major or a minor impurity is forbidden from entering a traditional Karaite synagogue or touching anything related to the synagogue. Before entering the synagogue a person must perform the appropriate purification ritual.
Purification from a minor impurity
 
Towards the end of the day the person became impure, (in the afternoon) he must wash himself as described above and change his clothes in order to be pure. After washing the person may enter the traditional Karaite synagogue, even though he does not become ritually pure until after sunset. It is customary that a person who has washed himself but who remains ritually impure sits in the back part of the synagogue and does not enter the sanctuary floor until after sunset.
 
Important Note: A person who has a major impurity must not enter the synagogue until after sunset even if he has washed himself.
 
Entering the Synagogue:
 
As mentioned, the person needs to be ritually pure in order to participate in prayers. When you come to the synagogue you need to do some preparations:
a) You should not speak in lowered voice if speaking on matters not related to prayers.
b) Your head needs to be covered (a kippah for a man; a kippah or scarf for a woman).
c) You need to take your shoes off.
d) Wash your hands. In every Bet Knesset there will be a sink)
e) You need to bow down when you enter to the prayer. Area which is always carpeted.
f) If you do not wear Tzizit you need to look for the rack where they are stored or if you can’t find it, ask for one and also ask for a siddur ( prayer book).
g) It is acceptable that in the end of the prayer service for people to shake hands and bless each other (Except in fasts days).
Karaite Tzitzit still made with Techelet (indigo blue) thread.
 
If you enter a prayer service after it has commenced. Remove your shoes, wash your hands, then enter the sanctuary. Prostrate to the floor while reciting this prayer (quietly):
 
Note: ch here indicates the guttural sound in Hebrew.
 
Ma Tovu ohalecha Ya’akov, mishkenotecha Yisra’el. Va’ani berov hasdecha avo vetecha, eshtachave el hechal kodshecha beyiratecha.
 
Then hold the tallit (prayer shawl) in front of you and recite this prayer (quietly):
 
Baruch atta Adonai eloheinu melech ha’olam asher kideshanu bemitzvotav vetzivanu lilbosh arba kanfot betzitzit, Amen.
 
You may then continue with the service.
 
Some common Karaite supplications that visitors may be asked to recite are shown here. If you know the tune then use it, but if you do not know the tune you may simply read them slowly, loudly, and in a monotone:
 
Shema Yisrael, Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai Echad!
 
Ana Adonai Hoshi Ana, Ana Adonai Hatz’licha Nah!
 
Adonai Melech, Adonai Malach, Adonai Yimloch, Le’olam Va’ed!

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