Jewish Joy

AFTER THE HOLIDAY OF SUKKOT, COMES SHEMINI ATZERET AND SIMCHAT TORAH. THESE HOLIDAYS ARE CATEGORIZED BY PURE JOY, EXCEEDING THAT OF SUKKOT, REACHING ITS CLIMAX ON SIMCHAT TORAH, WHEN WE CELEBRATE THE CONCLUSION AND THE RESTART OF THE ANNUAL
TORAH-READING CYCLE.

Shemini Atzeret is marked by holiday services and a festive meal at home. The custom is to eat in the sukkah on Shemini Atzeret, but without the traditional blessing. There is also the custom to dance

with the Torah on Shemini Atzeret just as we will do on Simchat Torah.
On Simchat Torah, the holiday of rejoicing with the Torah, we don’t study the Torah, we celebrate it. We hold it, hug it, dance and sing with it. After all, G-d’s manual for life is the greatest thing a Jew could possibly celebrate. We read the last portion of the Torah. Since Torah study never ends, we also begin reading from the scroll’s very beginning. This is to show that the Torah is beloved to us, and we are eager for a new cycle to commence. The celebration is marked on Simchat Torah night and the following day with exuberant, boisterous dancing in the synagogue while holding the Torah scrolls. The dancing circles the synagogue’s bimah, or Torah reading platform, seven times, while everyone sings spirited Jewish songs.
The highlight of the second day, Simchat Torah (The Joy of the Torah), is the hakafot, held on both the eve and the morning of Simchat Torah, in which we march and dance with the Torah scrolls around the reading table in the synagogue. In many synagogues, hakafot are conducted also on the eve of Shemini Atzeret.
These two days constitute a major holiday, when most forms of work are prohibited. In the Land of Israel, the celebration and customs of these two days are compressed into one fantastic day.
So no matter where you are, make the assembly or celebration of the eighth and the rejoicing with Torah an immense time of happiness and spirituality.

GUIDE

By Chani Rosenblum 

SHEMINI ATZERET

WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 11, 2017 THURSDAY OCTOBER 12, 2017

  • Light candles on the eve of Shemini Atzeret.
  • This day is reserved for joy and special prayers for rain. It is customary to have hakafot (circle the Torah- reading-platform).
  • Pray in the synagogue by night and day.
  • Enjoy a festive meal by night and day.
  • Many still eat their meals in the Sukkah without the special blessing for the Sukkah.

SIMCHAT TORAH

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 12, 2017 FRIDAY, OCTOBER 13, 2017

  • Light candles from a preexisting flame (on the eve of Simchat Torah).
  • Pray in the synagoge by night and day.
  • Enjoy a festive meal by night and day.
  • The Torah scrolls are taken out from their ark, the men parade with them around the bimah seven times, and dance and sing with them.
  • Everyone gets called up to the Torah, including children, as the Torah reading is concluded.

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