Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah
Shemini Atzeret is on Tishri 22, the day after the seventh day of Sukkot. Shemini Atzeret is also the holiday of Simchat Torah in Israel. Outside of Israel, where extra days of holidays are held, only the second day of Shemini Atzeret is Simchat Torah: Shemini Atzeret is Rishri 22 and 23, while Simchat Torah is Tishri 23.
Sometimes mistaken to be part of Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret is it’s own holiday and differs with regard to some of the Sukkot observances. Shemini Atzeret is literally “the assembly of the eighth day. Sukkot is a holiday intended for all mankind, but when Sukkot is over, the Creator invites the Jewish people to stay for an extra day, for a more intimate celebration.
Simchat Torah translates to “Rejoicing in the Torah”, and marks the completion of the annual cycle of weekly Torah readings. On Simchat Torah, we read the last Torah portion, then proceed immediately to the first chapter of Genesis, reminding us that the Torah is a circle, and never ends. This completion of the reading is a time of great celebration.
Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah are holidays on which work is not permitted.
Significance: A follow-up to Sukkot; the completion of the annual cycle of Torah readings
Length: 2 days (Some: 1 day)
Customs: Limited “dwelling in the suckh; dancing and rejoicing with Torah scrolls