Shemini Atzeret History
Shemini Atzeret (Hebrew: שמיני עצרת), means 'The eighth day break' or 'the eighth day of assembly'. It is celebrated preceding Simchat Torah and in some regions celebrated together with it. Services for this holiday often include a Geshem, prayer for rain.
Shemini Atzeret Facts
- On Shemini Atzeret there used to be a gathering of all men for a hearing of the Torah at the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Reference to this is made in the Biblical book of Nehemiah (verse 8:18).
- Shemini Atzeret is observed in Orthodox communities with candle lighting in the evening, Kiddush (sanctification over wine) and two challah breads. This is representative of all Jewish High Festivals and an evening and morning festive meal. Two Challah breads are used to commemorate the Sabbath in the wilderness. During this time Manna (edible substance that God provided for Israelites during time in the desert) fell from Heaven in a double portion on Friday, so that on the Sabbath day, the Israelites, did not need to perform the work of gathering Manna.
- Often an additional service after the morning service is held in Orthodox Synagogues. Hallel (Psalms with praise) is recited. Observant Jews do not work on this day.
- A popular prayer on Shmini Atzeret is called Yizkor, Remembrance. It serves to honor dead relatives. Even one of the happiest Jewish Holidays of the year, dead relatives (parents, siblings, spouses and children) are remembered. This helps remind that we would not be who we are and where we are without these people.
Shemini Atzeret Top Events and Things to Do
- Pray for Rain. Shemini Azeret and Simchat Torah is often accompanied by prayers for the rain. The holidays are in the Autumn, which is a critical period in Israel for harvests.
- On Shmini Atzeret, it is customary for Orthodox Jews to spend an 'extra day with God' and postpone their return to work and to mundane tasks.