Simchat Torah & Shimini Atzeret
Holidays at the Conclusion of Sukkot
Simchat Torah and Shimini Atzeret are celebrations marking the conclusion of the annual cycle of public Torah readings, and the beginning of a new cycle. Simchat Torah is a component of the Biblical Jewish holiday of Shemini Atzeret ("Eighth Day of Assembly"), which follows immediately after the festival of Sukkot in the month of Tishrei (mid-September to early October on the Gregorian calendar).
The main celebration of Simchat Torah takes place in the synagogue during evening and morning services. In many Orthodox and Conservative congregations, this is the only time of year on which the Torah scrolls are taken out of the ark and read at night. In the morning, the last parashah of Deuteronomy and the first parashah of Genesis are read in the synagogue. On each occasion, when the ark is opened, all the worshippers leave their seats to dance and sing with all the Torah scrolls in a joyous celebration that often lasts for several hours and more.
The morning service is also uniquely characterized by the calling up of each male member (in some Orthodox and the majority of non-Orthodox congregations, male and female members) of the congregation for an aliyah, as well as a special aliyah for all the children in attendance.
In observance of this holiday, the J will be closed.