Immediately following Sukkot, we celebrate Sh’mini Atzeret and Simchat Torah, a fun-filled day during which we celebrate the completion of the annual reading of the Torah and affirm Torah as one of the pillars on which we build our lives. As part of the celebration at Temple Beth El, the Torah scrolls are taken from the ark and carried or danced around the synagogue seven times. We physically unroll the entire Torah scroll to read the concluding section of the fifth book of the Torah, D’varim (Deuteronomy), immediately followed by the opening section of Genesis, or B’reishit. This practice represents the cyclical nature of the relationship between the Jewish people and the reading of the Torah.
Simchat Torah also marks our annual Consecration Service, when the children of Temple Beth El begin their religious school education as kindergarteners. Proudly displaying their Torah scrolls and waving flags, the children march into the sanctuary to recite the Sh’ma and show commitment to Jewish learning.
This year (5779 or 2018), Simchat Torah is celebrated September 30 – October 1. Please join us for a congregational dinner and Erev Simchat Torah and Consecration Service on the evening of September 30 and for worship services, including Yizkor, on the morning of October 1. Temple offices are closed on October 1.
Please visit the URJ Simchat Torah Page for more information, history, customs, and family activities.