Menu JTA Search

Freuently Asked Questions

What is Simchat Torah?

This day is the closing of the holiday of Sukkot, where the last readings of the Torah are celebrated. Jews outside of Israel celebrate it with two days, Shemini Atzeret as well as Simchat Torah.

How do we celebrate it? (At home/ In the community)

The holiday is centered around the synagogue, where the last portion of the Book of Deuteronomy is read, following by the beginning of the Book of Genesis as well as joyful dancing with the Torah scrolls.

What does it mean?

Although the significance of Shemini Atzeret is unclear, Simchat Torah is represented as a day where the whole community comes together to celebrate the involvement of the Torah in everyday life.

What is the history behind Simchat Torah?

Shemini Atzeret is mentioned in the Bible, though without a clear description of its function. During the Second Temple, it seemed to have been a day for ritual cleaning of the Temple alter, but became an obsolete day with the Temple’s destruction. Simchat Torah is thought to have evolved as a holiday during the medieval time period.

Read more