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How do Karaites pray? If the text of the Amidah originated in the mishnaic period, do Karaites recognize it? If not, what do they daven?

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    Do Karaites even believe in an obligation for prayer?
    – Double AA
    Commented Jan 10, 2013 at 6:06
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    There used to be Karaite siddurim on Hebrew Books. I believe the one who runs it was either notified by someone who the siddurim were written by or noticed himself and removed them. I saw this on the Seforim Blog once in an article by Marc Shapiro. You can search there to see if he provides a link to the siddurim or not.
    – Yehoshua
    Commented Jan 10, 2013 at 6:23
  • @Double AA - I think they do. I seem to remember even running into a Karaite Hagadda. A Google search on Karaite prayer certainly gives hits for a prayer book
    – Epicentre
    Commented Jan 10, 2013 at 6:31
  • You can find a Karaite Siddur at this link
    – Epicentre
    Commented Jan 10, 2013 at 6:35
  • books.google.com/…
    – Double AA
    Commented Dec 1, 2016 at 4:18

3 Answers 3

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I am a Karaite Jew, born and raised in an Egyptian Karaite Jewish family. I attend Congregation B'nai Israel, the only Karaite synagogue in the United States. I co-authored a primer on Karaite Judaism (As it is Written) and I run a blog on Karaite Judaism (ABlueThread.com). I consider myself Jewish. I consider myself Jewish before considering myself a Karaite. I have even taught Hebrew school at a conservative Rabbanite synagogue.

I bear no animosity towards Rabbanites, as you can see from my compliments to the faith and devotion of Rabbanites (see my post here). In fact, I believe that Karaites have a lot to learn from Rabbanites.

I think there are some great answers to this question, but to confirm, Karaites do not pray the Amidah. As far as what our prayers look like:

1) Karaites preserve the traditional practice of full prostration. 2) The prayer is a series of responsive readings/singing in Hebrew. 3) The service is led by a hazzan, but some portions are recited aloud by individual members of the community (even women). (Karaites don't have a prohibition against kol issha). 4) Interestingly, we have a prayer/song that is virtually identical to your Ayn K'Elohenu. But ours includes "K'Goaleinu" in addition to kelohenu, kadonenu, kemalkenu, kemoshi`enu.

I am happy to answer any questions, and I promise not to "spam" this board with Karaite topics/questions. I am only responding to some of the thoughts/comments here.

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    Hello and welcome to Mi Yodeya! Thank you for contributing this answer. Could you say more about the responsive readings? Do they draw from tanakh (e.g. psalms), are they composed, or what? Is there a thematic structure to the service? Thanks, and I look forward to seeing you around. Commented Jan 17, 2013 at 18:00
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    Oops. Many prayers indeed come from the Tanakh. Several have been composed by poets/sages. I'm actually working on a brief post for my blog on one of those composed passages. As for the structure, let's use the Saturday morning service as an example. There is definitely an opening, in which the congregation humbles itself the words ("Who am I but dust and ashes?" Gen. 18:27). Then it builds up to a mini-crescendo as we recite the song of the sea. (Exodus 15:1.) There is a full crescendo towards the end when we recite Ana Adonai Hoshia'na. Then we do the Torah service. And then we eat! Commented Jan 17, 2013 at 18:34
  • And if anyone wants to see my blog post on this you can see a pic of Karaites praying and hear a traditional Karaite prayer - one not from the Tanakh. wp.me/p2MerI-9D Commented Jan 31, 2013 at 16:12
  • "I am happy to answer any questions, and I promise not to "spam" this board with Karaite topics/questions. I am only responding to some of the thoughts/comments here." I'm not sure what the policy of this SE site is, but I know that the Christianity site explicitly adopted a policy that recognized all religious groups that self-identify as Christians as being Christian for the purposes of the site as part of the compromise with SE corporate that allowed them to create the Christianity SE site to begin with. I'd be surprised if this site was significantly different, in that regard.
    – nick012000
    Commented Aug 4, 2021 at 5:09
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Most Karaite prayers are scriptural passages, mostly from Psalms. For example, they say Shema Yisrael every morning, without the Baruch Shem Kavod or the blessings before and after it (they also only say the one pasuk rather than the three paragraphs that we consider as the Shema).

Their existing siddurim derive from the siddur of Aaron ben Yosef, a prominent 13th century Karaite leader who composed Seder Tefillot in the late 13th century. There are clearly many imitations to Rabbinic liturgy and piyutim when the text is not scriptural, but to directly answer your question:

The Karaites do not pray the Amidah that we pray. Something most similar is what they call "whispered prayer" and that is recommended rather than obligatory. You can find that text in the siddur printed by the Crimean Karaite scholar Abraham Firkowitsch (1786-1874), digitized by Harvard University here.

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  • Why do you omit the Barukh shem k'vod? ...If you don't mind my asking.
    – user3030
    Commented Jul 20, 2013 at 18:15
  • Baruch Shem is from Midrash Rabbah, rather than Tana"ch. Commented May 1, 2014 at 13:08
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This is a good video on how they pray

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