The Jews of Crimea and the story of the Karaites

Thursday, February 16

USA 12:00 pm PT / 3:00 pm ET

UK 8:00 pm / France 09:00 pm / Israel 10:00 pm

The talk will last approximately 90 minutes

About this talk

The peninsula of Crimea, on the northern shore of the Black Sea, has been historically a land of different peoples and contested borders. It was once the territory of Greek colonies, then a province of the Ottoman Empire, later the naval base of Russia and until recently, the holiday resort of independent Ukraine. Today it is once again immersed in conflict.

Crimea also has a long history of Jewish settlement. Jews may have first settled here during the Hellenistic and Roman periods. The legendary Khazaria state, whose elite converted to Judaism, was located here in the 8th and 9th centuries.

Two different Jewish communities lived side by side in Crimea for a very long time: traditional Ashkenazi Jews and Karaites. We are going to visit Crimea and learn the differences between traditional (Rabbinic) and Karaite (Non-rabbinic) Jews. We will also talk about Jewish agricultural settlements, Zionist training camps and Soviet Jewish collective farms.

Then we will discuss the history and traditions of the Karaites in the Russian Empire, as well as their story of social and political success. Lastly, we will look at the Synagogues, Karaite praying homes (Kenesas) and old Jewish cemeteries.

About Evgenia

Evgenia Kempinski is a Russian Jew born and raised in St. Petersburg. Her family was originally from the Pale of Settlement - Poland, Ukraine and Belorussia. She has been an official St. Petersburg tour guide for over 15 years and she is the founder and owner of St.Petersburg Jewish Tours - a company offering Jewish travelers a unique experience of showcasing the best of the former Soviet Union and Scandinavia from a Jewish point of view. She currently lives in Haifa, Israel,

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