Eighth Day of Assembly
Hebrew Calendar Date: 22nd day of Tishrei
When it began:
The festival of Shemini Atzeret was given to the Jewish people during their 40-year sojourn in the desert. It directly follows the seven days of Sukkot, and therefore Shemini Atzeret is literally the eighth day; but it is an independent one-day holiday. God says to Israel, "I have detained you to remain with Me." This is analogous to a king who invited his children to feast with him for a certain number of days, and when the time came for them to leave, he said: "My children! Please, stay with me just one more day; it is difficult for me to part with you!"
How it’s observed today:
Shemini Atzeret is celebrated as a full festival, with no manual labor permitted (like Shabbat) and with special prayer services and festive meals. The special prayer Geshem (Prayer for Rain) is recited during the Mussaf service – because this heralds the coming winter season where the rains are needed for the new crops.
Yizkor, the prayer for remembrance of deceased parents/ancestors is recited.
Some people still eat in the Sukkah.