Simchat Torah Banner

Simchat Torah (Hebrew: שִׂמְחַת תּוֹרָה, known as Rejoicing with the Torah) is a Jewish holiday that celebrates and marks the conclusion of the annual cycle of Torah readings, and the beginning of a new cycle. Simchat Torah is a component of the Jewish holiday of Shemini Atzeret (“Eighth Day of Assembly”), which follows immediately after the festival of Sukkot in the month of Tishrei.  It is a joyous holiday that celebrates the Jewish love of Torah and study.

Simchat Torah is celebrated by taking all the Torah scrolls out of the ark in synagogue and spending the evening dancing, singing, and rejoicing. The scrolls are carried around the sanctuary in seven circles called hakafot. Though only seven circles are required, the dancing and celebrating usually goes on much longer. It is also customary to drink alcohol on the holiday as part of the celebratory experience. Many people also take the Torah scrolls out to the street and dance publicly as a way of showing their pride as Jews.

On the morning of the holiday, the last parashah of the book of Deuteronomy is read in synagogue, followed by the first parashah of the book of Genesis (the end and the beginning of the Torah, respectively).