Simchat Torah

By Kendell Pinkney

Simchat Torah (Hebrew: שִׂמְחַת תּוֹרָה; Transliteration: sim-CHAT to-RAH), lit. “the rejoicing of the Torah” is a fall celebration that marks the end of the yearly Torah reading cycle. In many Jewish communities the festivities are marked by removing all of the Torah scrolls from the ark, at which point various members of the community will make seven circuits (hakafot) around the synagogue. Often, each circuit is “framed” by raucous dancing, singing, and in some circles, heavy drinking.

In certain communities where there are day time prayer services, numerous Torah scrolls are opened up and read repeatedly so that all participants of age (i.e. post-b’nai mitzvah) can receive an aliyah to bless the Torah. After this, the final portion of the Torah (called: v’zot ha’brakha) and the beginning section of the Torah (called: bereshit) will be read aloud.