Glossary

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K

Kabbalah

(Heb., kabalah; Yid., kabole) A general term for Jewish mysticism. Some distinguish between practical Kabbalah, which is more closely associated with magic, and theoretical Kabbalah, which involves metaphysical exposition. [See Mysticism; and glossary entry Lurianic Kabbalah.]

Kahal

(lit., community) Until the mid-nineteenth century, the term Kahal denoted the autonomous government of the Jewish community, which was called the kehilah. [See Kahal; and glossary entry kehilah.]

Karaites

(from bene mikra; “Scripturalists”) Jewish sect, characterized by its rejection of rabbinic authority and tradition, especially the Talmud. Karaism first emerged in Babylonia in the eighth and ninth centuries; its locus of activities shifted in the tenth and eleventh centuries to the Land of Israel and subsequently to Egypt and then Byzantium. The presence of Karaites in the Crimean peninsula is documented from the late thirteenth century. [See Karaites.]

kehilah

(Yid., kehile) Jewish community or congregation. In twentieth-century Poland the term denoted both the community and its autonomous government. [See Kahal.]

kolel

(pl., kolelim: lit., “comprehensive”) In the nineteenth century kolelim referred to the groups of Ashkenazic Jews from specific regions in Europe living in Palestine and supported by funds raised in their places of origin. Each kolel took care of the spiritual and economic needs of its members, including not only material sustenance but also their own study houses, ritual baths, and synagogues. The term kolel has come to refer more generally to a framework of advanced study ensuring the financial support of young (married) scholars so that they can devote themselves full time to Torah study.