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.
Unscrolled: 54 Writers and Artists Wrestle with the Torah
Miriam Bradman Abrahams is a Cuban-born, Brooklyn-raised, Long Island-residing mom. She is Hadassah Nassau’s One Region One Book chairlady, a freelance essayist, and a certified yoga instructor who has loved reviewing books for the JBC for the past ten years.
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