מְגִלַּת וָשִׁעְתּוֹן | Megilat Washington: A Scroll for Thanksgiving, by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Source (Hebrew) Translation (English) וַיְהִ֗י בִּימֵי֙ וָשִׁעְתּ֣וֹן הַנָּשִׂ֔יא עַ֛ל כׇּל־אַרְצ֥וֹת הַבְּרִ֖ית אֶ֥רֶץ אָמֶרִיקָֽה׃ ה֚וּא וָשִׁעְתּ֣וֹן הַמּוֹשֵׁ֔ל מִמַּסָטְשׁ֖וּסֶץ וְעַד־גְי֑וֹרְדְזִיָה שְׁלוֹשׁ־עֶשְׂרֵ֖ה מְדִינָֽה׃ וַיְהִ֣י ׀ בַּיָּמִ֣ים הָהֵ֗ם יִשׁ֣וּב יְהוּדִים֩ הָיָה֨ בְּעִ֤יר מָחוֹז֙ בְּשֵׁ֣ם נִי֔וּפּוֹרְט בִּמְדִינַ֖ת רוֹדַּֽילֶן׃ וְהִנֵּ֖ה הַיְּהוּדִ֣ים הָאֵ֑לֶה הָי֨וּ מִתְקַהֲלִ֤ים בְּבֵית־הַכְּנֶ֨סֶת֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר לָהֶ֔ם וּשְׁמ֖וֹ בֵּית־טֽוּרוֹ׃ And it was in the days of President Washington of all . . .

The Story of Gedaliah, as told by Titus Flavius Josephus in Antiquities of the Jews

The story of Gedaliah as recorded by Josephus in his Jewish Antiquities. . . .

בן סירא מב:כא-מג:לא | ben Sira 42:21-43:31, a hymn of creation translated by Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan

Ecclesiasticus (ben Sira) 42:21-43:31 is presented as “God the Lord of Nature” in The Sabbath Prayer Book of Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan (The Reconstructionist Foundation 1945), p. 376-372 in the Supplements subsection, “God in Nature.” The text of Ben Sira used here differs in places found in other manuscripts. . . .

מגילת אנטיוכס עם טעמי מקרא | Megillat Antiokhus, with ta’amei miqra (for cantillation) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Perhaps Megillat Antiokhus could be read a la Esther on Purim (the holiday with the most similarities), going to Eicha trope in the upsetting parts. A few notes: on the final mention of Bagris the Wicked I included a karnei-farah in the manner of the karnei-farah in Esther. I also included a merkha kefulah in the concluding section, which (according to David Weisberg’s “The Rare Accents of the Twenty-Eight Books”) represents aggadic midrash material. It also serves as a connection to the Chanukah haftarah, which is famously the only one that has a merkha kefulah. –Isaac Mayer . . .

איכה פרק ו׳ | Lamentations “chapter 6” in cantilized English, a supplement to public readings of Eikhah by HIAS (2018)

As we prepare to observe Tisha B’Av and commemorate the destruction of Jerusalem that led to the exile of the Jewish people for centuries to come, we are acutely aware that we find ourselves in the midst of the worst refugee crisis in recorded history, with more than 68 million people displaced worldwide. Given these extraordinary numbers, the continued attacks on asylum and the refugee resettlement program in the United States over the last eighteen months are even more inhumane. Of course, we know that the proverbial 10th of Av will come, and we will rise up from our mourning with renewed resolve to support refugees and asylum seekers. First, though, we take time to dwell fully in the mourning demanded by the 9th of Av. We fervently lament the many cruel actions this administration has taken to limit the ability of refugees and asylum seekers to seek safety in our country, and we mourn for lives destroyed and lives lost. . . .

መጽሐፈ ኩፋሌ | ספר היובלים | Sefer haYovelim (the book of Jubilees, in Ge’ez) chapters 24-50

Continued from the book of Jubilees Chapters 1-23. The book of Jubilees is an early Jewish deuterocanonical text composed in Hebrew during the Second Temple period sometime before the Maccabean struggle (ca. 167 BCE). . . .

the past didn’t go anywhere: making resistance to antisemitism part of all of our movements, by April Rosenblum (2007)

It’s always a real struggle for the Left to successfully tackle oppression within its own ranks. But when we do it, our movements gain, every time, from the deeper understandings that emerge. To start the process this time, we need some basic information about what anti-Jewish oppression is and how to counter it. But it has to come from a perspective of justice for all people, not from opportunistic attempts to slander or censor social justice efforts that are gaining strength. . . .

A Modern Esther Tribute for Purim and Women’s History Month, by Rabbi David Evan Markus

Purim affirms Esther’s stand against official silencing, abuse of power, misogyny and anti-Semitism. At first an outsider, Queen Esther used her insider power to reveal and thwart official hatred that threatened Jewish life and safety. We celebrate one woman’s courageous cunning to right grievous wrongs within corrupt systems. The archetype of heroic woman standing against hatred continues to call out every society still wrestling with official misogyny, power abuses and silencing. For every official silencing and every threat to equality and freedom, may we all live the lesson of Esther and all who stand in her shoes: “Nevertheless, she persisted.” . . .

מדרש הגדול על פרשת תרומה | Why the Mishkan Resembles the World and the Human Body: a translation of Midrash haGadol on Parashat Terumah, by Shir Yaakov Feit (in memory of Laurie Feit, z”l, 5777/2017)

This translation was prepared by Shir Yaakov Feinstein-Feit in loving memory of his sister, Laurie Feit, z”l, (1961-2017). “Midrash HaGadol or The Great Midrash (Hebrew: מדרש הגדול) is an anonymous late (14th century) compilation of aggadic midrashim on the Pentateuch taken from the two Talmuds and earlier Midrashim of Yemenite provenance. In addition, it borrows quotations from the Targums, and Maimonides[2] and Kabbalistic writings (Oesterley & Box 1920), and in this aspect is unique among the various midrashic collections. This important work—the largest of the midrashic collections—came to popular attention only relatively recently (late 19th century) through the efforts of Jacob Saphir, Solomon Schecter, and David Zvi Hoffman. In addition to containing midrashic material that is not found elsewhere, such as the Mekhilta of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, the Midrash HaGadol contains what are considered to be more correct versions of previously known Talmudic and Midrashic passages.” (via wikipedia) . . .

A Haftarah for Martin Luther King Shabbat, by Rabbi Marcia Prager and Ḥazzan Jack Kessler

These quotations from Dr. King’s speeches were edited by Rabbi Marcia Prager and set to Haftarah Trop by Hazzan Jack Kessler. This adaptation was first published in Kerem (Fall 2014), in Jack Kessler’s article, “English Leyning: Bringing New Meaning to the Torah Service.” . . .

“I have a Dream” by Martin Luther King, Jr.: a Haftarah reading for MLK Shabbat with cantillation added by Rabbi David Evan Markus

In 2017, Rabbi David Evan Markus prepared the end of Dr. King’s famous speech read at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (August 28, 1963) with trope (t’amim, cantillation). The following year on Facebook he shared a recording of the reading hosted on Soundcloud. Rabbi Markus writes, “This weekend at Temple Beth El of City Island, I offered the end of Dr. King’s 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech, which I set to haftarah trope because I hold Dr. King to be a prophet. When my community applauded, I offered President Obama’s response, ‘Don’t clap: vote.’ And do more than vote: organize, donate, volunteer, help, heal, advocate. Only then, in Dr. King’s words quoting Isaiah 40:5, will ‘all flesh see it together.'” . . .

סדר לקריאת מגילת העצמאות | Reading of the Israeli Declaration of Independence for Yom Ha’atsma’ut

Jews have read sacred texts to commemorate miracles of redemption for a long time. Purim has Megilat Esther. Many communities read Megilat Antiochus or Megilat Yehudit for Chanukah. But to many modern Jews, the most miraculous redemption in recent history was the founding of the state of Israel, as we commemorate on Yom haAtzmaut. Like Purim, the story of the founding of Israel was entirely secular on a surface level, with no big showy miracles like a sea splitting or a mountain aflame. Like Chanukah, a Jewish state in the land of Israel won its independence against mighty forces allied in opposition. But we don’t have a megillah to read for Yom haAtzmaut. Or do we? Just as Megillat Esther is said to be a letter written by Mordekhai to raise awareness of the events of Shushan, so too does the Israeli Scroll of Independence, Megilat haAtzmaut, raise awareness of the events of the founding of the State of Israel. In this vein, I decided to create a cantillation system for Megilat haAtzmaut. Ta’amei miqra were chosen attempting to follow Masoretic grammatical rules – since modern Hebrew has a different grammatical structure, the form is somewhat loose. Because of the thematic similarities to Purim, I chose Esther cantillation for the majority of the text. Just as some tragic lines in Esther are read in Eikhah cantillation, some lines regarding the Shoah or bearing grim portents for the wars to follow are to be sung in Eikhah cantillation. And the final phrases of chapters II and III are to be sung in the melody for the end of a book of the Chumash, or the Song of the Sea melody. They can be done in a call-and-response form, with the community reading and the reader repeating. . . .

MLK Day | Readings from the Speeches and Letters of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Selections from speeches and letters by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. read in ecumenical services for Martin Luther King Day in the United States. . . .

מגילת אנטיוכס | Megillat Antiokhus in Ladino by Rabbi Isaac Magriso (Me’am Lo’ez: Bamdibar BeHa’alothekha, Constantinople 1764)

This is a largely uncorrected transcription of Rabbi Isaac Magriso’s telling of Megillat Antiokhus in Ladino (Judeo-Spanish) from the Me’am Loez: Bamidbar Parshat BeHe’alotekha (Constantinople, 1764). The paragraph breaks are a rough estimation based on my comparison with the English translation of Dr. Tzvi Faier (1934-2009) appearing in The Torah Anthology: Me’am Loez, Book Thirteen – In the Desert (Moznaim 1982). I welcome all Ladino speakers and readers to help correct this transcription and to provide a complete English translation for non-Ladino readers. . . .

מגילת יהודית לאמרה בחנוכּה | Megillat Yehudit, the Medieval Scroll of Judith to be said on Ḥanukkah

Below we have made a faithful transcription of the text of the medieval Megillat Yehudith (the Scroll of Judith), not to be confused with the deutero-canonical Book of Judith, authored in Antiquity. We have further set this text side-by-side with the English translation made by Susan Weingarten, originally published as “Food, Sex, and Redemption in Megillat Yehudit: Appendix to Chapter 6,” in Sword of Judith. ed., Kevin R. Brine, Elena Ciletti, Henrike Lähnemann (Open Book Publishers, 2010) p.110-125. Our transcription sources are the same as Dr. Weingarten’s: A.M. Habermann’s transcribed text in “Megillat yehudit le-omrah be-hanukkah,” Mahanayim 52 (1961), pp. 42–47, and the “Midrash No.8” found in A.M. Dubarle’s Judith: formes et sens des diverses traditions II: textes (Rome, 1966), pp. 140–53. Dubarle provided section numbers by which the extant variations of the midrashim for Judith might be compared. As Dr. Weingarten notes, Dubarle only transcribed the second portion of the only extant manuscript. We have provided his section numbers in curly brackets. “Missing” numbers refer to portions of the story appearing outside the Megillah in the other variations transcribed by Dubarle. (Please refer to Dubarle’s work for these.) We are grateful to Dr. Weingarten and to Open Book Publishers for sharing their work under an Open Content license. Please read Dr. Weingarten’s complete chapter in Sword of Judith for additional context. . . .

ספר יצירה | Sefer Yetsirah, a derivation of A. Peter Hayman’s experimental “earliest recoverable text,” by Aharon Varady for practitioners

The text of the Sefer Yetsirah presented here follows the “experimental exercise” produced by A. Peter Hayman in his Sefer Yeṣira: Edition Translation and Text-Critical Commentary, “Appendix III: The Earliest Recoverable Text of Sefer Yesira” (Mohr Siebeck, 2004). For details on his construction and his review of the available recensions of Sefer Yetsirah, please refer to Hayman’s complete commentary. Numbers in parentheses indicate sections. I have added spaces between sections indicate traditional chapter breaks. Square brackets indicate some doubt as to whether the included wording was present in the earlier form of the text (p.124). . . .

מגילת יום ניקנור | A Reading for Yom Nikanor, the Day of the Elephantarch: II Maccabees, chapters 13-15

It is challenging to think of how to mark Nicanor Day, as it remains at a disadvantage, not only on years when it conflicts with Ta’anit Esther but on all years since it has no mitzvot. This is probably the main reason that, unlike Chanukah and Purim, it was lost to Jewish practice for more than a thousand years. Nevertheless, we do have its megillah, which has been translated into Hebrew and English. Perhaps, if we start reading chapters 13-15 of 2 Maccabees, even just to ourselves, on the 13 of Adar, we can begin to resurrect a holiday that was celebrated and instituted by Judah Maccabee and his followers over two millennia ago, and which they envisioned would continue throughout Jewish History. With the return of Jews to Israel and Jewish sovereignty to Jerusalem, I believe it is about time. . . .

מדרש מעשה חנוכּה | Midrash Ma’aseh Ḥanukkah, another Ḥanukkah story

This digital edition of Midrash Ma’aseh Ḥanukkah was transcribed from the print edition published in Otzar Hamidrashim (I. D. Eisenstein, New York: Eisenstein Press, 5675/1915, p.189-190). With much gratitude to Anat Hochberg, this is the first translation of this midrash into English. . . .

መጽሐፈ ኩፋሌ | ספר היובלים | Sefer haYovelim (the book of Jubilees, in Ge’ez) chapters 1-23

We are grateful to Dr. James VanderKam for preparing this critical text of the Book of Jubilees (Sefer Yubalim) in its Ge’ez translation in Ethiopic script. The book of Jubilees is an early Jewish deutero-canonical text originally written in Hebrew and composed during the Second Temple period sometime before the Maccabean struggle (164 BCE). . . .

שִׁמּוּשׁ תְּהִלִּים‬ | Shimush Tehillim (the Theurgical Use of Psalms), attributed to Hai ben Sherira Gaon

The Shimmush Tehillim is a medieval work providing prescriptive theurgical associations for Psalms and verses from Psalms. It has been historically attributed to Rav Hai Gaon (939-1038 CE) but any definitive statement of authorship is lacking. The suggestion that portions of the Shimush Tehillim were authored during the late Geonic period in Iraq isn’t implausible. We also know that Hai Gaon was knowledgeable of Hekhalot writings that should at least be considered part of the same thought world as the Shimmush Tehillim. Writings found in the Shimush Tehillim have been found in manuscripts dating from the 12th century. This digital transcription of Shimush Tehillim derives from Elias Klein Békéscsaba’s 1936 compilation. This edition should not be considered a critical text, as earlier editions certainly exist. Not all of the Psalms are identified as having a particular theurgical use. . . .

פרק שירה | Perek Shirah (Chapter of Song), a hymn of creation

Talmudic and midrashic sources contain hymns of the creation usually based on homiletic expansions of metaphorical descriptions and personifications of the created world in the Bible. The explicitly homiletic background of some of the hymns in Perek Shira indicates a possible connection between the other hymns and Tannaitic and Amoraic homiletics, and suggests a hymnal index to well-known, but mostly unpreserved, homiletics. The origin of this work, the period of its composition and its significance may be deduced from literary parallels. A Tannaitic source in the tractate Hagiga of the Jerusalem (Hag. 2:1,77a—b) and Babylonian Talmud (Hag. 14b), in hymns of nature associated with apocalyptic visions and with the teaching of ma’aseh merkaba serves as a key to Perek Shira’s close spiritual relationship with this literature. Parallels to it can be found in apocalyptic literature, in mystic layers in Talmudic literature, in Jewish mystical prayers surviving in fourth-century Greek Christian composition, in Heikhalot literature, and in Merkaba mysticism. The affinity of Perek Shira with Heikhalot literature, which abounds in hymns, can be noted in the explicitly mystic introduction to the seven crowings of the cock — the only non-hymnal text in the collection — and the striking resemblance between the language of the additions and that of Shi’ur Koma and other examples of this literature. In Seder Rabba de-Bereshit, a Heikhalot tract, in conjunction with the description of ma’aseh bereshit, there is a clear parallel to Perek Shira’s praise of creation and to the structure of its hymns. The concept reflected in this source is based on a belief in the existence of angelic archetypes of created beings who mediate between God and His creation, and express their role through singing hymns. As the first interpretations of Perek Shira also bear witness to its mystic character and angelologic significance, it would appear to be a mystical chapter of Heikhalot literature, dating from late Tannaitic — early Amoraic period, or early Middle Ages. . . .

The Rainbow Haftarah by Rabbi Arthur Waskow, translated by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi (1993)

I call you to make from fire not an all-consuming blaze But the light in which all beings see each other fully. All different, All bearing One Spark. I call you to light a flame to see more clearly That the earth and all who live as part of it Are not for burning: A flame to see The rainbow in the many-colored faces of all life. . . .

The Last Tisha b’Av: A Tale of New Temples, by Rabbi Arthur Ocean Waskow and Rabbi Phyllis Ocean Berman (2006)

Long ago there came a Ḥassid, visiting from Vitebsk to see his Rebbe. Struggling up hills, over cobblestones, through narrow alleyways, the Ḥassid came panting, shaking, to the door of a pale and quiet synagogue. So pale, so quiet was this shul that the pastel paintings on the wall and ceiling stood out as though they were in vivid primary colors. As the Ḥassid came into the shul, he saw his Rebbe high on a make-shift ladder, painting a picture on the ceiling above the bimah. . . .

תשעה באב | Eikha for the Earth: Sorrow, Hope, and Action from the Shalom Center

Tisha b’Av, the ninth day of the month of Av, has historically been a day to mourn the Destruction of the First and Second Temples, centers of Israelite practice before the rise of Rabbinic Judaism (First Temple 975 BCE – 586 BCE; Second Temple 515 BCE – 70 CE) and the exiles that followed those destructions. Over the course of Jewish history this day of mourning and fasting has also come to commemorate many other tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people throughout history. This year we are beginning a new tradition. We are suggesting that in addition to, or instead of (depending on the norms of your community and personal practice) the traditional observance of Tisha b’Av, the time has come to use this powerful day to mourn the ongoing destruction of the “temple” that is our Earth, a tragedy for all peoples, creatures and living things, but one that is not complete and thus, with sufficient will and action, is in part, reversible. . . .

מגילת אנטיוכס | Megillat Antiokhus for Ḥanukkah in Aramaic, translated in Hebrew, Yiddish, and English

The Megillat Antiochus was composed in Palestinian Aramaic sometime between the 2nd and 5th century CE, likely in the 2nd Century when the memory of the Bar Kochba revolt still simmered.. The scroll appears in a number of variations. The Aramaic text below follows the critical edition prepared by Menaḥem Tzvi Kaddari, and preserves his verse numbering. The English translation by Rabbi Joseph Adler (1936) follows the Hebrew translation in the middle column, the source of which is a medieval manuscript reprinted by Tzvi Filipowsky in 1851. Adler and Kaddari’s verse ordering loosely follows one another indicating variations in manuscripts. Where Aramaic is missing from Kaddari’s text, the Aramaic version from Adler’s work is included in parentheses. Adler also included a Yiddish translation which we hope will be fully transcribed (along with vocalized Hebrew text, a Hungarian translation, and perhaps even a Marathi translation from South India) for Ḥanukkah 5775 , G!d willing. . . .

מדרשים על אדם הראשון וקלנדס על תקופת החורף | Midrashim on the Origin of the Festival of Kalends on the Winter Solstice by the Primordial Adam

Our Rabbis taught: When Adam HaRishon (primitive Adam) saw the day getting gradually shorter, he said, ‘Woe is me, perhaps because I have sinned, the world around me is being darkened and returning to its state of chaos and confusion; this then is the kind of death to which I have been sentenced from Heaven!’ So he began keeping an eight days’ fast. But as he observed the winter solstice and noted the day getting increasingly longer, he said, ‘This is the world’s course’, and he set forth to keep an eight days’ festivity. In the following year he appointed both as festivals. Now, he fixed them for the sake of Heaven, but the [unenlightened] appointed them for the sake of star worship. . . .


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