Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Karaites, the Jews of the Crimea, where they have been settled from time immemorial; they form a distinct sect, which is distinguished by its close adherence to the text of Pentateuch and its rejection of the Talmud. By some authorities the Karaites are regarded, not as Jews originally, but as descendants of the Tatar Khazars, who were converted to the Jewish religion in the 7th century. This view is confirmed by the fact that certain Hebrew inscriptions discovered in the Crimea, and dating from the 8th century, bear distinctly Nogai-Tatar names, such as Tohtamish, a name which could never have been borne by a true descendant of Abraham or Jacob. Karaite is derived from the Hebrew word Kara, "to read," because, so to say, they "read" nothing but the Old Testament and reject the authority of the rabbins. Formerly the Karaites were widely diffused, but are now confined mainly to the Crimea, and to a few scattered groups in Lithuania, Galicia, Syria, Jerusalem, Constantinople, and Alexandria, numbering altogether about 6,000.