22 Tishri 5778 / October 11-12, 2017
Simchat Torah, Hebrew for "rejoicing in the Law", celebrates the completion of the annual reading of the Torah. Simchat Torah is a joyous festival, in which we affirm our view of the Torah as a tree of life and demonstrate a living example of never-ending, lifelong study. Torah scrolls are taken from the ark and carried or danced around the synagogue seven times. During the Torah service, the concluding section of Deuteronomy is read, and immediately following, the opening section of Genesis, or B'reishit as it is called in Hebrew, is read. See below for Simchat Torah celebration ideas from our Festival Committee.
Bring Simchat Torah home with you!
Simchat Torah is one of our more unusual festivals. It celebrates the end of the annual Torah cycle and the beginning of the new one. The Torah is divided into weekly sections that neatly end and begin again, on this holiday. The Torah scrolls are taken out and embraced, both literally and figuratively, while people march and dance around the sanctuary. The very last section of Deuteronomy is read aloud, followed by the very first section of Genesis. All of this is done amid much gaiety and music. Children watch and follow as their parents and grandparents undertake the joyful task of carrying a Torah around the sanctuary, continuing a tradition that our forebears began centuries ago.
The very best way to celebrate Simchat Torah is to come to our boisterous service and join in. Any adult can carry a Torah scroll; all you need is a little muscle. Two people can share in this task. It’s a great feeling to participate in such an ancient and sacred tradition. The only requirement is the desire to be a part of it.
How can you celebrate Simchat Torah at home?
The Festival Committee has come up with a few suggestions that capture the spirit of this “end to start” holiday.
Children will enjoy a “backwards dinner," in which you start with dessert, followed by an entrée, and then a salad. This represents the idea of ending something and then beginning something. Explain to them the reason for this unusual dinner, followed by a story about endings and beginnings.
For some moving and inspiring stories that have to do with Simchat Torah, as well as a wealth of useful information, click here:
Ask each family member to talk about something they ended and something they began.
There are a wealth of toys and games that will capture the interest of children. Did you know there is a Jewish version of the classic board game Slides & Ladders? Click here to check it out:
Sometimes a small thing can make a big difference. A stuffed toy can become the beloved partner of a young child. Instead of the standard teddy bear, why not try a soft and colorful toy Torah? OyToys.com is a wonderful web site that offers all kinds of Torah toys; shop at their website through our Shaaray Tefila Marketplace and you'll be supporting our congregation with your purchase: http://shaaraytefilanyc.org/marketplace then click on OyToys -- Holiday -- Sukkot & Simchat Torah
Celebrating the Torah also means studying the Torah. Jewish Torah study is unlike any other approach to the Bible, because it digs deep to find questions as well as answers. At Shaaray Tefila, we use the text as a base, and we use any number of respected commentaries, but no opinions or outlooks are off limits. Bring your knowledge, your questions, your doubts, and your inspirations. There are many opportunities to study Torah with us. Try the weekly Shabbat study minyan, held every Shabbat morning; Midtown Torah Study, held from 12:30 to 1:30 pm two Wednesdays per month at 521 Fifth Ave., 17th Floor; or Torah Talk, which meets at the Temple every Wednesday from 12:30 to 1:30 pm. For those who can read basic Hebrew, we offer Hebrew Text Study every Monday evening from 6:30 to 7:15 pm where we examine prayers, the weekly Torah portion, writings from Pirke Avot, and other rabbinic texts in Hebrew.
22 Tishri 5777 / October 24, 2016
7:45 am Yizkor Service
10:00 am Service including Yizkor