Alternative Haftarot

Introducing a New Shabbat Morning Offering

Rabbi Hannah has initiated alternative haftarot, to be offered by community members approximately once a month. While the community will continue to read from the traditional prophetic readings, there is now the option of selecting our own readings, chosen from any source, to further explicate an aspect of the Torah reading – dramatizing a theme or message, or relating it to our historic moment. Distinct from divrei torah, the alternative haftarot will be presented as liturgy, preceded and followed by blessings. If you’d like to try your hand at this and have any questions, please contact Rabbi Hannah.

January 2019 – Parashat Yitro
Avril Orloff – Visual Haftarah

When the call went out for an alternative haftarah for the week that we’d be reading the 10 Commandments, I decided to take on the challenge. After trying out a few ideas in my head, it became clear that as a visual artist, I had to create a visual haftarah. I decided I would use only my own photographs – nothing borrowed or stolen (you shall not steal!) from the Web. Some of the commandments were easy enough to illustrate, but some were tough. How do you envision something as abstract as “I am Hashem your God”?? And how do you envision something as concrete as “You shall not murder” without being gruesome? It was quite a process choosing images that worked for me, but eventually I narrowed the list down to ten images that felt right. It felt like something was still missing, though. That’s where the idea to complement the images with words came in. Quotes, poems, song lyrics, religious commentary – whatever I could find in books or online that went well with specific commandments and added another layer of meaning. The result is what you see here. I hope you enjoy my haftarah on the 10 Commandments as much as I enjoyed creating it, and I hope it enhances your connection to the words of Torah!

Note: When I delivered this haftarah in shul, I accompanied it with a song, “Ahavat Olam” by Soul Aviv, a Jewish music group in the United States. Nomi Fenson, Wendy Rubin, and I sang the song in the background as the images were passed around the room. You can hear the original version by Soul Aviv here

Click the image to view Avril’s full Visual Haftarah.