Tsoffar, a Sephardic-Israeli academic, examines Karaite life in Northern California through the experience of the niddah (the menstruating woman), in light of the centrality of purity issues in Karaism. Rituals and observances associated with the female body reflect biblical interpretations, ideology, and identity. According to scholars, the Karaites emerged from Judaism in the 8th century, rejecting the Oral Law of the Rabbis. They accept the Hebrew Bible alone. Tsoffar’s relatively small sample populaton immigrated to California mainly from Egypt. Unlike many European Karaites, they have strong ties to Israel, where there is a Karaite community, and to Zionism. This highly detailed study of Karaism in transition in America will interest students of women’s studies, anthropology, minority cultures, and Judaism.
Libby K. White is director of the Joseph Meyerhoff Library of Baltimore Hebrew University in Baltimore, MD and general editor of the Association of Jewish Libraries Newsletter.