Isaiah I: 1- 27
Isaiah (prophet)- c.740 – 685 BCE
The Book of Isaiah is used for 18 haftarot through the year- more than any other book.
This haftarah always precedes the fast of Tisha B’Av (the 9th of Av). It is the last of the “Three Haftarot of Rebuke”. This may have been prophesied around 701 BCE, during the reign of King Sennacherib. Assyria had invaded Judah and had begun the siege of Jerusalem. It is a desolate haftarah where Isaiah recounts how God laments that His children – B’nei Yisrael – have rebelled against Him. They are corrupt, their prayers are empty and their sacrifices are meaningless.
He tells the nation their sins can become white as snow and the land can become fruitful and full again. God asks Israel to “Learn to do well; Seek justice, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.” (Isaiah 1: 17)
The haftarah is bleak, expressing God’s disappointment in His people and longing for them to improve. In searching for an image I wanted something that expressed God’s desires for His children. I thought back to the survivors of the Shoah and how they had to be cared for.
As we know, Jewish immigration to Israel, their ancestral homeland, was severely restricted by the White Paper of 1939. Jewish survivors of the Shoah (Holocaust) had to enter mandate Palestine illegally and if they were caught were sent to D.P.camps. When Israel was declared a state in 1948 there were suddenly thousands of Jewish immigrants in the country needing food, clothing and shelter.
“Ma’abarot” (or temporary camps and cities) were set up to temporarily house survivors and refugees. In the early 1950’s they accommodated 130,000 expelled Iraqi Jews. By the end of 1951 there were over 220,000 people in about 125 different areas.
The ma’abarot had problems and were not “perfect” solutions, but they were a genuine attempt to take care of the widows, the orphans and the needy when Israel was first established.
The illustration is inspired by a photograph of a ma’abarah in 1952.