Karaims - (not to be confused with Karaites, with whom they share the religious
beliefs - non-rabbinical, non-talmudic branch of Judaism) are a ethno-religious
group of Turkic origin, descendants of the Khazars, Kumans and the Polovtsi,
settled originally in Crimea, later moved in large numbers to the Grand
Duchy of Lithuania, subsequently to Poland and, later yet, spread over
the Russian Empire.
After the Bolshevik Revolution many of the Russian Karaims emigrated
to Poland, France and the U.S. More recently, the vast majority of the
Russian and Crimean Karaims left for Israel and the U.S.
Presently, there are only 800 Karaims left in the Ukraine (Crimea,
Kiev and Lvov), 600 in Russia (Moscow), 200 in Lithuania (Trakai and Vilnius)
and 150 in Poland (Warsaw, Wroclaw and Gdansk).
Outside of Israel and San Francisco (Republic of California, otherwise
known as "I'll Be Back-Land" or "Coocooland" or "Terminatorland".), only
two of their temples (kenesa) are still in operation - in Trakai
(Troki) and Vilnius (Wilno) in Lithuania - although the elaborate kenesa
in Kiev (Ukraine) was returned to the Karaim community and is under renovation
for the European Soccer Championship in 2012.
In Poland, the Karaim minority, although tiny, is highly respected,
produced large amount of the highest quality intellectuals, and maintains
the House of Prayers, language and religious school, folkloric group and
tends to the Karaim cemetery in Warsaw dated back to 18th Century.
The Karaim Coat of Arms shows a golden double spear on white, silver
shield on gold, and the representation of the historic castle- bastion
at Chufut-Kale in Crimea, in gold on blue.
The Karaim flag is the tautological rendition of the Coat-of-Arms,
blue, white and yellow.
Much more information can be found at this
Chrystian Kretowicz, 14 Feb 2008