The Sons of Scripture by Mikhail Kizilov
The Karaites in Poland and Lithuania in the Twentieth Century
Today’s Karaites who make up less than 1% of Israel’s Jews were once as numerous as Rabbanites. Moreover, the slow but inevitable decrease in the number of the Karaites in Poland and Lithuania leads to the conclusion that the Polish-Lithuanian Karaites are one of the most endangered ethnoreligious groups in Eastern Europe. This vanishing community of non-Talmudic Turkic-speaking Jews, who had lived in Eastern Europe since the late Middle Ages, had developed though a unique ethnographic culture and religious tradition.
The new open access book by Mikhail Kizilov, “The Sons of Scripture”, published by De Gruyter Open is a full and fascinating history of this remarkable community, from its beginnings in the early part of the 14th century, until its near destruction during the Second World War, Holocaust, and years of Communist regime. The book offers the first comprehensive study of the dramatic history of the Polish-Lithuanian Karaite community in the twentieth and twenty first centuries.
Drawing on a variety of archival sources in the host of European and Oriental languages, Kizilov deals with the history, ethnography and the complex ethnic identity of the Polish-Lithuanian Karaites. It includes an analysis of the dejudaization (or Turkicization) of the community, which saved some of the Karaites from the horrors of the Holocaust. The author relies upon previously untapped sources on the Eastern European Karaites in Vilnius, Berlin, New York, Warsaw, Krakow, Halicz, Moscow and Simferopol.