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The answer (to the Karaites of St. Petersburg) by Mr. Mondon Vedailhaie (1906)

Addis Ababa, June 14, 1906
 
To Mr. Nisan Davidovich, Karaite rabbi
 
Dear Rabbi!
 
Colonel Leontiev authorized me, during his second journey in Abissinia, to deliver your interesting letter to the Ethiopian religious leaders of Your Ethiopian co-religionists, as you addressed them.
 
I'm not sure if I'll be able to adequately answer all your questions.
 
I must for many reasons translate your letter into the Ge'ez language, which is currently the religious language of the Israelites and the Abyssinian Christians, or into the Amhar language which is the most widespread language in the Ethiopian Empire.
 
The Jewish community of Ethiopia is at this time very isolated and Jews very rarely live among Christians, each person protects his own faith and there is no persecution (in religion).
 
It was very different at the time of the Emperors Tewodros and Yohanis who identified religious diversity as the obstacle of the political unification of the country. It is necessary to say that of all the religions, the Falashes alias Ethiopian Israelites were persecuted in the least way.
 
Before I have opportunity to give your letter to the official representatives of the religious communities of Israelites in the form that they will understand, I wish to do a great favour for my friend Mr. Leontiev, and I will give you some information that can interest you. It is true that from of all the remains of the ancient Jewish people, the Falashes alias Kara are the closest to the Karaites.
 
After careful consideration, I intend to answer some of your questions, based on the knowledge that I have gained which you can send to your Ethiopian co-religionists.
 
The Origin of the Jews in Ethiopia
 
Ancient Ethiopian legend connects the imperial dynasty with King Solomon. Meakeda, the Queen of Sheba, who is mentioned in the Bible, had a son with King Solomon according to tradition. This son, Menelik I, was raised in the Jewish faith in the courts of the king of Israel and he was anointed as the King of Ethiopia in the Temple in Jerusalem. When he entered the Kingdom of Aksum, accompanied by Azarya, the son of the High Priest Tzadok, he brought with him a copy of the Law, which he placed in the temple of Aksum.
The Descendants of Azarya, who adopted Christianity, hold the office Nebrita which means the head of the church of Aksum until this day.
Menelik I and Azarya were accompanied by a crew of the Israelites, including the experts in Law of Moshe, who were appointed as judges in various Ethiopian provinces.
 
It is historically proven that the Israelite settlement is very old, and most likely occurred from the time of the conquest of the Jewish Kingdom by Titus, and that much of Ethiopia, especially the upper classes of the population professed the Jewish faith until the arrival of Christianity. 
 
Christianitity in Ethipia differs from other Christian sects as they practice things that are rejected by other Christians. For example: circumcision, the keeping of a Saturday sabbath also the rules for meat are kept by Christians as well as by your co-religionists.
 
When Christianity began to penetrate into Ethiopia, it encountered great resistance from some of the experts of the Jewish faith, and it can be assumed that from this time it is necessary to identify the beginning of the separation of Falashes.
 
Falashes believe in the legend of the Ethiopian Queen of Sheba, which claims that the Queen of Sheba made the journey on a very large and beautiful white camel, and that she was accompanied by the daughter of Hiram, the king of Tyre (see Psalm 45), the Queen of Sheba realized her journey was under his protection.
 
Falashes
 
On the base of the available information, it is not possible to submit a detailed report about the history of the Falashes. It can be assumed that, after the stubborn fight against the penetration of Christianity, they built their own kingdom, whose capital was Simien and which despite many changes existed for a long time.
 
There was also a time when Jewish resistance was so strong that it was able to overthrow the dynasty of Solomon. One Queen of Semien, whose name was Esther, expelled all the princes of the royal family, except one, who was allowed to hide himself in Shewa (Ethiopia province). This strengthening of Judaism did not last for a long time, after two or three centuries the kingdom came under the domination of a Christian family from the clan of Zage and the dynasty of Solomon again returned to power. The Kingdom of the Falashes survived, but it became a vassal and had to pay taxes.
 
It is said that King of the Falashes always had the name Gideon and the Queen always had the name Judith.
 
The Kings of the Falashes were constantly at war with the Christian princes of Ethiopia.
 
The current situation
 
The persecution by the Emperors Tewodros and Yohanis greatly reduced the number of Falashes, the size of the community is difficult to estimate. There are still places where they are hidden, they call these areas Hagara Maskai in the Abissinian language.
 
Three of these areas are in Dafatsha Kidana-Mariam, Abarra-Giorgis and Abba Ivostatiwos.
 
The largest communities are located in the northern provinces Abisinia, Tzahada, Volk, Dambia and Kwara.
 
In Shewa there are only a few workers and imperial officials.
 
The French scholar J. Halevi did research on these tribes and he even published a collection of their prayers. Many of them speak a specific dialect, which is similar to Arabic, but most of them understand Amharic. According to the information that I got, their supreme spiritual leader has his office in Tzahada, Northern Ethiopia (Tugra).
 
Answers to the questions
 
I added the answers to most of Your questions:
 
1) The Ethiopian Israelites call themselves Karan. The word Falash means expatriates or expellees.
 
2) They have no idea how they differ from other Jews.
 
3) and 4) They identify themselves, as was above mentioned, as the descendants of Israelites.
 
5) They do not follow anything besides the Law of Moses.
 
6) and 7) It is possible that foreign Jews live somewhere in Abissinia, but I do not know them, and there is currently no relation between them and the Falashes. 
 
8) Falashes undergo circumcision and they celebrate Pesach as a reminder of the Exodus of the people of Israel from Egypt and they keep Saturday Shabbats
 
9) I do not have enough information about the Feast of Weeks. 
 
10) Under their clothing they wear a linen shirt with a blue band. They told me it commemorates the crossing of the Red Sea. This shirt has no fringes.
 
11)
 
12) Their era is fixed from the world's creation, but it seems to be done in a special Ethiopian way.
 
13) They follow the Law of Moses and the prophets, generally the Bible. They use the same Bible as the Ethiopian Christians. The Bible is in the language of Ge'ez, which is the religious language. Their Bible is not in Hebrew, they do not understand this language.
 
14) In addition to the Bible they have prayers in their native language. Their scholars are called a rabbi or rabbis.
 
15) They pray in synagogues, which they call mekurab. Like other Ethiopians they call Solomon's Temple Bieta Makdash.
 
16) They have kohens and Levites (levavian). Their high priest Lika Kaganat lives in Tzagara.
 
17) They keep all the biblical fasts, abstinence, ritual purity, sacrifices, etc.
 
18)
 
19) They have no books written in Hebrew, as I mentioned, all their sacred books are written in the Ge'ez language. I would like to add that between them and the Christians disputes over the biblical text are never avoided. In both Falasha and Christian tradition they have an old (apocryphal) book - the book of Enoch.
 
20) They use the script of the Ge'ez language.
 
21) Ethiopian Jews make a living mostly by manual work - they work as carpenters, bricklayers, potters, etc.
 
In some provinces there are religious communities of men and women living in monasteries (separately). Abissinian people claim that on specific days both genders meet and have sexual intercourse in the dark. I have not found serious proof for this claim.
 
The children are educated by rabbis.
 
It is necessary to add that the Ethiopian Jews do not know about  the Talmud, Mishnah, the Targums or Kabbalah. Their belief is based only on the book, which You refer to as Torat Moshe.
 
In anticipation of something better, here is the information that I received from the Abissinian sages.
I gave this information to Mr. Leontiev, but this topic is so interesting that it pushes me to get more information and I will be happy to deliver the results of my research to you. 
 
Accept, Mr. rabbi my full respect.
 
S. Mondon Vedailhai