October 4, 2023
Sefer Haftarah is a way for your congregation and each person who chants a haftarah to find a greater connection to the text they are chanting by reading it from a handwritten parchment scroll – just as the Torah and all holy books were written in ancient times,
The Sefer Haftarah scroll was created in Israel and contains all Haftorot, including vowels and trope.

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.

Scott Pass of Fair Lawn Jewish Center Men’s Progress Club with the Sefer Haftarah

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.

FJMC Webmaster Andy Alper holding the FJMC Sefer Haftarah

Plans are in process for a 2024 FJMC Sefer Haftarah World Tour in advance of the 2025 FJMC Biennial Convention in Chicago and the Florida Region of FJMC wants to offer every affiliated Men’s Club and Brotherhood in the State of Florida an opportunity to get up close and personal with the Sefer Haftarah as it makes it way through the Sunshine State. Please contact the FJMC International Sefer Haftarah Program Chair Lawrence Nathanson at Lawrence.Nathanson@Yahoo.com or Florida Region FJMC President Ed Kochman at EKochman@FJMC.org to find out how your Florida Region FJMC Men’s Club or Brotherhood can secure a spot on the Sefer Haftarah 2024 World Tour.

This message is brought to you by the Florida Region of the Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs (FJMC). We are part of a confederation of over 200 Jewish Men’s Clubs and Brotherhoods representing over 20,000 members across the United States, Canada, Latin America, and beyond. Learn more about how your Jewish Men’s Club or Brotherhood can affiliate with the FJMC at: https://www.fjmc.org/content/affiliating-fjmc.

The Florida Region of FJMC serves the needs of affiliated Men’s Clubs and Brotherhoods throughout the State of Florida. Get to know more about the FJMC Florida Region and our growing network of Jewish Men’s Clubs and Brotherhoods at www.floridaregionfjmc.org and please visit and LIKE our Florida Region FJMC Facebook Group at www.facebook.com/FloridaRegionFJMC.

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