The reading of the Haftarah has been part of Jewish liturgy since Roman times. The reading of haftarot was introduced in order to counter a Roman decree that forbade the reading of the Torah in public assemblies. During the 9th century C.E., the Ben Asher family developed the system of cantillation and punctuation. 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. Books of haftarot in scroll form have been in use for more than a century but sadly have almost been totally eclipsed by the printing press. A Haftarah, unlike the Torah, does not have to be chanted from a scroll (though many feel it would enhance the spirituality of the act if it were read from a scroll instead of a book).
When several FJMC members were in Jerusalem, they had the opportunity to view a Sefer Haftarah scroll that had been commissioned for an Orthodox synagogue. They immediately saw a number of spiritual and fundraising possibilities if FJMC commissioned its own scroll. The scroll has the outward appearance of a Torah scroll and contains all the Haftarot chanted during the year, but unlike the Torah scroll, has the vowels and the trope cantillation, which facilitate its chanting. Also, the Haftarah scroll lists the various sponsorships of the individual Haftarot.
The main purpose behind commissioning the Haftarah scroll was utilitarian in nature. FJMC would now have a scroll that could travel from club to club to be used in congregations all across North America. It would create a sense of pride and accomplishment among the member clubs and provide opportunities for them to highlight FJMC activities for members of their congregations.
Since it was first unveiled during the 2003 Federation of Jewish Men's Clubs (FJMC) Biennial Convention in Fort 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 coast to coast, and from Florida to Canada.
The FJMC Sefer Haftarah program is now in its sixth year. It became so popular that many individual Men's Clubs, including Brotherhood at T.I.C., also commissioned their own Sefer Haftarah. Created in Israel and containing all of the Haftarot, including vowels and trop, it now resides in our Ark. We sponsored this project to enhance the Shabbat experience.
Individual dedications are available at various levels as outlined below and includes the opportunity for an individual Haftarah for a chosen Shabbat. The individual Haftarah is hand-written on the highest quality parchment, with vowels and cantillation; it is ideal for parents, grandparents, or others who want to make a memorable bar or bat mitzvah gift or to commemorate weddings, births, or the anniversary of a bar or bat mitzvah. In addition to the text from the Prophets, the parchment can be inscribed with a personalized dedication.
Dedications are available as follows:
- Cover with inscription $ 20,000
- Book $ 5,000
- Study notebook (all portions) $ 3,000
- High Holiday Portions (4) $ 2,000
- Pesach (5) $ 1,800
- Sukkot (5) $ 1,800
- Shavuot (2) $ 900
- Portion $ 500
- Portion on individual Scroll to take home $ 500
- Individual Verse $ 50