Contemporary Jewry

, Volume 35, Issue 3, pp 263–284 | Cite as

Karaite Stories: Narrating Subjectivity in a Marginal Moshav

  • Inbal Ester Cicurel


The Karaites are a Jewish group formed between the 8th and 10th centuries. Throughout their history, they lived in constant confrontation with the usually larger and stronger group of Rabbani’im (the Hebrew Karaite name for non-Karaite Jews) over the definition of Jewishness. This confrontation threatened to continue in Israel following Karaite immigration in the 1950s and 1960s. As the politically weaker of the two groups, the Karaites were forced to contend with their double status in Israel–Israeli Jews according to the Law of Return, yet questionable Jews in Rabbani eyes. This threatened not only their perceived Jewish identity but also their “Israeliness” and national belonging. This paper analyzes stories recounted by members of a Karaite moshav (a smallholder cooperative village) in Israel, which express the social position the community views as fitting and presents the teller’s portrayal of its fraught position in Israeli society. It will show that, while describing life on the moshav over the years, these stories convey ideas about belonging, Zionism and Jewishness. This reading into the stories reveals the Karaite’s version of their identity, as opposed to that of their Rabbani neighbors who challenge their Jewishness, offering a case study in the cultural construction of a marginalized identity.


Stories Karaite Israel Zionism Settlement 



I would like to thank Ashkelon Academic College for their generous contribution to the publication of this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ashkelon Academic CollegeAshkelonIsrael
  2. 2.D.N. HaluzaIsrael

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