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In Israel, Shemini Atzeret (the Eighth Day of Assembly) and Simchat Torah – the 8th and 9th days of Sukkot – are celebrated as a single holiday. Outside of Israel, the two days are separated, and their moods could not be more different. Shemini Atzeret is a serious moment when we recite Tefillat Geshem, the traditional prayer for rain in Israel, and the Yizkor memorial prayers. And then in the evening, we shift to joyous singing and dancing to celebrate the conclusion of our annual cycle of reading the Torah.
At B’nai Israel, each of these holidays brings hundreds of individuals for reflection and joy. In addition to singing and dancing with the Torah scrolls on Simchat Torah evening, we unroll the entire Torah so that we can visualize every letter and word of our most sacred text – this is always a popular event! On Simchat Torah morning, we honor every member of the congregation with an aliyah, a commitment that requires numerous reading stations to accommodate everyone. We also honor the commitment of two members to the congregation with the honors of Hatan/Kallat Torah and Hatan/Kallat Breishit, the last readings of Deuteronomy and first reading of Genesis respectively.
Click here for Shemini Atzeret & Simchat Torah service times.