Simchat Torah History
Simchat Torah (Hebrew: שמחת תורה) commemorates the joy of the Jews having the Torah (Bible and its instruction). On Simchat Torah, many services read all five Books of Moses. The last chapter in Deuteronomy is completed by the Groom of the Torah and then the first chapter in Genesis is recited by the Groom of Genesis. Every Sabbath morning, a portion of the Five Books of Moses (Torah) is read in Synagogues in the presence of ten adult men(aquorum).
Simchat Torah Facts
- It is customary for people dance with the Torah Scrolls in Orthodox and Traditional Synagogues with singing and dancing. They make seven cycles Hakafot around the synagogue, both on the Eve of Simchat Torah and in the Morning Service.
- Children often join in the main adult Synagogue service carry flags, mock Torah scrolls. Young children are often carried on their fathers' shoulders or piggy-backed around the Synagogue. All the children under 13 are called up to the Torah under a canopy or prayer shawl (Tallit). This is considered to be a special honor, which is not allowed the rest of the year and brings the children closer to the Torah.
- Many congregations often have children's services in which each child gets a turn to read part of the Torah, to dance with a mock Torah scroll or to sing a Jewish song.
- It is customary to make a festive Kiddush (light meal with wine) after the morning service, which is typically sponsored by the Groom of the Torah and the Groom of Genesis. The Groom of the Torah recites the last paragraphs of the Torah scroll, which is being completed and the Groom of Genesis recites the first few paragraphs of the new Torah Scroll.
- A popular prayer on Simchat Torah 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 believers that they would not be who they are and where they are without these people.
Simchat Torah Top Events and Things to Do
- Attend a local Simchat Torah Celebration held at many Synagogues.
- 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.
- Attend a Hakafot Shniot on the night after Simchat Torah. This is a replay of the Simchat Torah festivities, but in which Orthodox people can play musical instruments (which are forbidden during the festivals).