Historic Karaite synagogue rededicated in Crimea

Ukrainian Karaites have rededicated their main house of worship in Yevpatoria.

The “Great Kenasa,” a Karaite variation of “beit kenesset,” which is Hebrew for synagogue, is the only Karaite house of worship holding regular services in the former Soviet Union. The rededication took place Sunday.

Yevpatoria, on the Crimean Peninsula, is home to about 800 Karaites, members of a sect that broke off from mainstream Judaism in eighth-century Iraq.

There were 11 Karaite kenasas in Crimea at the beginning of the 20th century. Unlike other Karaite communities, those in Crimea play down their connection to Judaism, describing themselves as a Turkic people and emphasizing the customs they share with Crimean Tatars.

David El, the head of Ukraine’s Spiritual Board of the Karaites, representatives of the Ukrainian Parliament the Crimean government and national cultural societies took part in Saturday’s ceremony marking the completion of the first stage of repairs at the Karaite religious complex, which holds the community’s buildings.

The building  is being renovated with funds from the  Ukrainian government.

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