Simchat Torah Schedule
Following the seven joyous days of Sukkot, we come to the happy holiday of Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah. Yizkor, the memorial for the departed, is also said on this day. The second day is known as Simchat Torah, during which we complete and immediately begin the annual Torah reading cycle. This joyous milestone is marked with dancing, traditionally following seven circuits known as hakafot, as the Torah scrolls are held aloft.
Sunday Eve, Oct 16
Dinner & Dancing with the Torah in the Sukkah
Monday eve, Oct 17
Tuesday Day, Oct 18
Buffet Luncheon L'chaim and Dancing with the Torah
When: Starts in the evening of Oct 16 and concludes after nightfall of Oct 18
What: In Israel, Shemini Atzeret is a one-day holiday; in the Diaspora it is a two-day holiday, and the second day is known as Simchat Torah. This holiday is characterized by utterly unbridled joy, which reaches its climax on Simchat Torah, when we celebrate the conclusion—and restart—of the annual Torah-reading cycle.
How: These two days constitute a major holiday, when most forms of work are prohibited. We are permitted to cook and to carry outdoors unless it is also Shabbat. On the preceding nights, women and girls light candles, reciting the appropriate blessings, and we enjoy nightly and daily festive meals, accompanied by kiddush.
The first day, Shemini Atzeret, features the prayer for rain, officially commemorating the start of the rainy season in Israeli, and the Yizkor prayer, remembering the souls of the departed.
We no longer take the Four Kinds, and we no longer mention Sukkot in the day’s prayers; however, we do still eat in the sukkah (but without reciting the blessing on it).
The highlight Simchat 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.
On this joyous day when we conclude the Torah, it is customary for every man to take part in the celebration by receiving an aliyah. The children, too, receive an aliyah!
After the final aliyah of the Torah, we immediately begin a new cycle from the beginning of Genesis from a second Torah scroll. As soon as we conclude studying the Torah, G‑d’s infinite wisdom, on one level, we immediately start again, this time to discover new and loftier interpretations.
We celebrate the cycle of Torah study with joyous dancing, becoming the Torah's feet in this great celebration! It is with this energy and inspiration, that we conclude the month of holidays and begin to unpack the lessons and messages we've learned into our daily routine.
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