If this is Shabbat Chol HaMoed Sukkot (the Intermediate Shabbat of Sukkot), then Simchat Torah must be right around the corner! And it is!!!
On this coming Tuesday morning we will gather for our Shmini Atzeret service and Yizkor, and that night, on Tuesday night, we will gather for our evening Simchat Torah service. And….Our morning Simchat Torah service will take place on Wednesday of this coming week.
Simchat Torah will wrap up our High Holy Day season and we will end the annual Torah reading cycle and begin anew on that special holiday!
Did you realize that Simchat Torah (Rejoicing with the Torah) is the latest Jewish holiday to be added to our Jewish calendar (except for Israel Independence Day and Holocaust remembrances)? There is no mention of Simchat Torah as a holiday in the Bible. There is no mention of it in the Talmud. It is a later (Rabbinic) addition to our Jewish calendar. Yet, in our generations, Simchat Torah is the one Jewish holiday that was almost universally known to Jews in the Soviet Union and was celebrated as a symbol of Jewish identity!
This year, we will celebrate Simchat Torah in person with a Zoom option for those who choose to celebrate from home. We will modify the service in the Sanctuary so that those who choose to celebrate in person will feel safe in community. We will not process with the Torah. We will sing songs (in place) for the seven hakafot, and we will demonstrate our love of Torah and our flexibility and resilience by doing so! We will end the High Holy Days on a High Note and we will Begin Again!
I am happy that we have been able to provide in person services while keeping our congregation safe. Jews throughout the world and throughout the ages have survived as a people thanks to their ability to meet challenges, to overcome obstacles, and to stay connected. Most of all, we have survived thanks to our ability to rejoice in the blessings of Jewish living!
Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach!
Rabbi Gilah Dror
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