The Haftarah has been part of Jewish liturgy since Roman times. They were introduced in order to counter a Roman decree that forbade the reading of the Torah in public assemblies. During the 9th Century CE, the Ben Asher family developed the system of cantillation and punctuation (trop and k’tiv). From that time onward, it became traditional for the haftarot to be chanted. It was common during the Middle Ages to have books of the prophets in the Ark next to the Torah scrolls. When it became time to read from the Haftarah, a scroll was taken out of the Ark and the Haftarah was chanted. Books of haftorot in scroll form have been in use for more than a century but have almost been totally eclipsed by the printing press. The Haftarah, unlike the Torah, does not have to be chanted from a scroll (though many of us feel it would enhance the spirituality of the act if it were read from a scroll instead of a book).
The FJMC Sefer Haftarah Scroll contains a collection of every Haftarah read during the year, including those from holidays and Rosh Chodesh. The Haftarot are scripted by a sofer on a parchment scroll in the same manner as a Torah. In fact, when rolled up and covered by its mantle, the Haftarah scroll looks exactly like a Torah scroll but not as thick. But unlike a Torah, the Haftarah scroll contains vowels and the trop. In addition, there are dedications of the various Haftarot in English and Hebrew. Since it was first unveiled during the 2003 FJMC Biennial Convention in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, the FJMC Sefer Haftarah scroll has travelled around North America to Men’s Clubs and Brotherhoods, to regional retreats and to FJMC conventions.
It has been used in synagogues from West Coast to East Coast, and from Florida to Canada. At services, it is treated very much like a Torah. It is housed in the Ark, undressed and redressed like a Torah, and carried around the congregation in the Torah procession. For more information about the FJMC Sefer Haftarah visit project visit https://www.fjmc.org/sefer-haftarah.
Plans are in process to bring the FJMC Sefer Haftarah to the Sunshine State and FloridaRegionFJMC.org wants to offer every one of our Florida Men’s Clubs and Brotherhoods an opportunity to get up close and personal with the Sefer Haftarah. Host a Sefer Haftarah study session, incorporate the scroll into your Shabbat service or dance with it on Simchat Torah. Please contact RichNebb@FJMC.org to secure your spot on the Sefer Haftarah 2022-2023 world tour.
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