Rejoicing with the Torah
Hebrew Calendar Date: The 22nd of Tishrei
Torah Reference: Simchat Torah is a rabbinic holiday for those in the Diaspora. In Israel, Simchat Torah is celebrated on Shemini Atzeret.
When it began:
Simchat Torah’s central theme is the celebration marking the conclusion of the annual cycle of public Torah readings, and the beginning of a new cycle. The weekly Torah readings were mandated by Ezra The Scribe during the 2nd Temple Era.
How it’s observed today:
The highlight of Simchat Torah (The Joy of the Torah) is the hakafot, the 7 dancing circuits, held on both the eve and the morning of Simchat Torah, in which we march, sing and dance with the Torah scrolls around the reading table in the synagogue. (In many synagogues, hakafot are conducted also on the eve of Shemini Atzeret). During the daytime services of Simchat Torah, after the dancing, every congregant including young boys is given the honor of being called up to the Torah to recite the Birchat Hatorah blessing.
Little children bring flags to join the celebration.
In some congregations, candy is distributed to little children to heighten the excitement.
In some Jewish congregations, they dance in the street with the Torah.