Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah Date in the current year: October 24, 2016

Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah are two Jewish holidays that immediately follow the conclusion of Sukkot in Israel. Outside Israel Simchat Torah is observed a day later.

Shemini Atzeret is translated literally as “Eighth [day] Assembly”. It is celebrated on the 22nd day of the month of Tishrei which usually falls on late September or early October. It is connected to the holiday of Sukkot that lasts seven day thus Shemini Atzeret is literally the eighth day. On the other hand, it is a separate holiday in its own right.

Simchat Torah is a holiday that can be considered a component of Shemini Atzeret, though outside of Israel it is celebrated on the following day. Simchat Torah is translated as “rejoicing of Torah”. This day marks the completion of the annual cycle of public Torah readings. On this day, the final parashah (section) from the Book of Deuteronomy and the first parashah from the Book of Genesis are read in synagogues.

There is a tradition of removing Torah scrolls from the ark and carrying them around the synagogue in a series of seven circuits (hakafot). This ritual is accompanied by singing and dancing that can continue for hours. In Orthodox synagogues, men and women have separate dancing circles as they are not allowed to dance together.

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Shemini Atzeret, Simchat Torah, religious holidays, Jewish holidays