The following are educational and online resources that can be used in service leading and Torah reading preparation. This list was reviewed and compiled by TBE clergy and lay leaders.
Online Haftarah Resource: MP3s of all haftarot including those special for holidays, Rosh Chodesh, etc. This also has a haftarah trope trainer for good measure. http://haftorahaudio.com/
Online Service Leading Resource: It uses our siddur (Sim Shalom) and tunes with which our congregation is familiar. It includes Friday night, Saturday, weekday Minyan and other links. http://sidduraudio.com/
Online Tikkun available at Scrollscraper, just plug in your desired book, chapter and verse range: https://scrollscraper.adatshalom.net/
Online archives of High Holy Day readings in HHD trope (MP3s):
Try to get a “Vav Tikkun*” as the spacing will mimic what is found in the Torahs we regularly use.
*Vav Torahs are standardized so that each column begins with a vav and the spacing is consistent across each Torah. A vav tikkun is a practice book designed to follow what you will see in the scroll when learning. For some readers, this is a huge help to stay oriented, particularly within a long reading.
If you have questions, or are interested in service leading, feel free to contact one of the following people:
- Jessica Goldstein: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Rabbi Stephen Slater: email@example.com
- For Haftarot: Call Melvin Zivitz at 205.999.9213
- Learn to read Torah and Haftarah: http://lift-up-your-voice.org/
- Haftarah trope exercises: https://www.dropbox.com/s/cqoigwhbe29gspw/Haftarah%20Trop%20Exercises.mp3?dl=0
- Torah trope exercises:https://www.dropbox.com/s/lo2g9c14kpccz5x/Torah%20Trop%20Excercises.mp3?dl=0
- Another variation of Torah trope: https://www.dropbox.com/s/zbjflkihv9fgt1s/Weird%20Torah%20Trop.mp3?dl=0
- Online trope site: http://learntrope.com/
Would you prefer learning with an app? Here are a few to consider:
Pocket Torah (green version has the individual readings, blue has trope reference):
Why it is likeable:
This app is free (always a good thing) and easy to use. Simply choose the portion you want and find the verses within the listing. This app doesn’t do triennial breakdowns so you’ll need to check your verses and find them within the full readings. You can change the size of your font to suit your preference. The font used is very clear and you can toggle between tikkun and nikkud (with vowels) easily, though the spacing changes quite a bit. It is not set up like a vav Torah (since you can change the font, that would not be possible), so if you are a visual learner, you might want to progress from this to a vav tikkun before reading from the scroll.
Some readers have found it challenging to transition from the very clear print in this app to a handwritten Torah, I would suggest using a more ornate script tikkun as an additional step if that is an issue you have. Scrollscraper text is more like handwritten, as is the text in the paper Kikkun Korim Simanim- Nussach Ashkenaz.
There is also a built in MP3 function where you can check the pronunciation of a word or phrase by touching the starting word of the desired phrase. The trop they use is pretty basic and easy to follow.
Tikkun Korim: The icon is gold Hebrew text on a black background.
Why it is likeable:
This is a pricey app (about $20 when I purchased it). However, it has a few features that I really like. You can bookmark passages to find your readings easily. The text is typeset so that it is spaced exactly the same with vowels and without – not so in Pocket Torah. The script is very much like the handwritten script in our scrolls, so makes for good final polishing. There is an MP3 feature and a way for you to record yourself within the app (great for reference when you’re working on more challenging trop, it makes a difference when it’s YOUR voice on the recording!).
What is a tikkun?
A tikkun is a tool to help you study your Torah portion. It shows the text with and without cantillation marks (trop)/vowels side by side. The learner starts first with the marks and then transitions to no marks like it will appear in the Torah.
What do I do with pages I’ve printed off the internet to practice with?
If you don’t want to keep them, please turn them in to the ganiza box at TBE where they will be buried with other sacred materials retired from use (located in the office).
What if I need extra help getting prepared?
Contact Rabbi Stephen.
Can I practice reading out of the scroll before my reading?
Of course! Contact Rabbi Stephen to arrange.
How do I sign up for a portion?
I’m considering trying this but am not sure where to start. Who can I talk to?
I learned different trope. Can I use the one I learned?
There are as many different kinds of trop as there are leyners. Be consistent and show us something new! Some readings have special trop associated with them, consult Rabbi Stephen for details.
Saturday mornings don’t work for me. Is there another day I could read?
Torah is also read at TBE on Monday and Thursday mornings and on certain holidays. For more information, contact Rabbi Stephen.
Why I Do This
By: Jessica Goldstein, TBE congregant
There are as many reasons to read Torah as there are readers. Some appreciate the continuity to generations past, some want to challenge themselves, others find beauty in the chanting and words. Some of that is true for me.
However, I can’t sing, I hate to speak in public, and grew up thinking that this is not anything I would (or would be allowed to) do. Reading Torah was the least likely way I would ever volunteer to be of service to the shul.
So how did I end up on the bimah with a yad in my hand?
Simply put: if not me, then who? It was not enough to volunteer my husband, my children, my friends. I witnessed firsthand the toll on our few regular readers trying to keep this beautiful mitzvah a part of our service. I got to the point where I couldn’t ask others to do what I was not willing to do. If the congregation was willing to endure my learning curve and less-than-tuneful chanting, I needed to shoulder a tiny bit of the load.
To my great surprise, I found I liked it. Studying through the week gives me a consistent way to stay connected to my island of observance on Shabbes. I find new ways to push myself (learn longer readings, read more often, read more readings in one Shabbes, learn the unusual trope) and found that it has become less and less a burden, and more and more a privilege. Best of all, I honestly don’t care anymore about my lack of singing skill; it really doesn’t matter.
In Judaism, we gather together as a congregation to create something beautiful and special that we could not achieve alone. For me, participation in this mitzvah has strengthened my sense of community and personal responsibility for my worship. Just showing up wasn’t enough.