Unscrolled: 54 Writ­ers and Artists Wres­tle with the Torah

Roger Ben­nett, ed.
  • Review
By – February 5, 2014

This won­der­ful book is divid­ed into fifty-four Parashot, or sec­tions of the Torah, which we tra­di­tion­al­ly read, one per Shab­bat, over the course of the Jew­ish cal­en­dar year. Each Parasha (chap­ter) is first sum­ma­rized with one Pasuk (verse) high­light­ed above the sum­ma­ry. An artist or writer was giv­en artis­tic free­dom to express his/​her own Dvar Torah (word of Torah), in this case a cre­ative take’ on the read­ing which was some­how inspired by their cho­sen high­light­ed text. Some are writ­ten in the for­mat of a script for a play, oth­ers in graph­ic com­ic form, and while most are in prose, one is even writ­ten as a recipe and anoth­er is in blue­print form. Many are easy to con­nect with but a cou­ple of the inter­pre­ta­tions were so way out they elud­ed the under­stand­ing of this read­er, who spent twelve years at a Jew­ish day school. The book can be picked up at any chap­ter and is a portable paper­back, mak­ing it easy to tote to syn­a­gogue as an addi­tion­al and alter­na­tive eye-open­ing com­men­tary to the Sab­bath ser­vice. In fact Roger Ben­nett writes in his intro­duc­tion that our high­est hope is that this vol­ume will cause you to fol­low this bib­li­cal text along with us through­out the year and wres­tle with the nar­ra­tive to come to your own con­clu­sions — a rit­u­al that has been faith­ful­ly fol­lowed for more than three thou­sand years.” He explains that this book of unortho­dox Divrei Torah is offered up in the spir­it of the rab­bini­cal asser­tion that there are infi­nite inter­pre­ta­tions of the Torah and that every­one who stood at Mount Sinai saw a dif­fer­ent face’ of the text.” Unscrolled pro­vides a hip, art­sy, mod­ern day midrash to the Torah and might not be to the lik­ing of a very con­ser­v­a­tive­ly Ortho­dox read­er. How­ev­er, many inter­est­ing and unusu­al insights are to be found in these pages and there is cer­tain­ly much cre­ativ­i­ty wor­thy of perusal by any­one who wish­es to delve fresh­ly into the sto­ries of the bible.

Miri­am Brad­man Abra­hams, mom, grand­mom, avid read­er, some­time writer, born in Havana, raised in Brook­lyn, resid­ing in Long Beach on Long Island. Long­time for­mer One Region One Book chair and JBC liai­son for Nas­sau Hadas­sah, cur­rent­ly pre­sent­ing Inci­dent at San Miguel with author AJ Sidran­sky who wrote the his­tor­i­cal fic­tion based on her Cuban Jew­ish refugee family’s expe­ri­ences dur­ing the rev­o­lu­tion. Flu­ent in Span­ish and Hebrew, cer­ti­fied hatha yoga instructor.

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