The holiday of Simchat Torah comes at the end of Sukkot...and here are 13 things I love about it:
1. Celebrating the Torah. The holiday celebrates the end of the Torah-reading cycle by reading the end of the book of Deuteronomy and the beginning of the book of Genesis.
2. Unrolling the scroll. At Am Shalom, we unroll a Torah scroll all the way around the sanctuary and read from the end and the beginning. It's such a cool opportunity for us to see the whole scroll unrolled. Depending on which Torah we use, it can go all around our sanctuary.
3. The music. We invite a Klezmer band to be a part of our celebration and it rocks!
4. The dancing. We usually dance with the Torah, traditionally 7 times around. Some people dance with their Torahs out in the street, or other public places near their synagogues. We pass the Torah from person to person so everyone gets a chance to dance with the Torah.
5. The Consecration. We consecrate our kindergarteners and new students to the beginning of their Jewish education. It was especially wonderful this year for me because my own child was consecrated. We give the kids miniature Torah scrolls and I still have mine from my own consecration!
6. The T-Shirts. Our consecrants receive t-shirts that say "Confirmation Class of 2018" (or whatever year it would be.) Basically, that means that in 10 years, they will be confirmed as part of their 10th grade year. By giving them these shirts we are telling them what we value most of all -- continuing Jewish education. I'm so excited that my son has one of these shirts!
7. The treats. We always have donuts, cider, and...best of all...caramel apples. Yum-o!
8. The top 10 list. We count down the top 10 events in the Torah. I think that we might be biased to our choices, or perhaps we are in a bit of a rut with our choices, but I don't think it really matters. Choosing the top 10 events in the Torah is pretty tricky, don't you think, considering that something big happens in each Torah portion each week!:-)
9. The joy on the kids' faces. For them this is a very special night, a chance to celebrate and dance with the Torah and their rabbis. They get such a kick out of it. I wish I could bottle their enthusiasm and joy in Judaism at the moment of celebrating Simchat Torah and give it back to them when they're less-than-enthusiastic middle-schoolers.
10. Reveling in the cycle. It's so incredible to think that each year we end and begin the Torah reading cycle again. Most holidays are part of the cycle of life, of course, but this one reminds us so strongly about the ending and beginnings...
11. Creating Jewish memories. The other rabbi that I work with has committed himself to taking pictures of people "creating Jewish memories" so he takes pictures of kids and their parents with the Torah. I think there's something incredibly special about this.
12. Saying Yizkor. We repeat the Yizkor memorial service at Simchat Torah, Pesach, and Shavuot as well as Yom Kippur. It's one more way to remember those who've died in a special moment at the holiday.
13. The end of the major holidays. Whew...we've been going strong now for quite some time, through Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and now this...it will be nice to rest a little from holiday celebrations!
See more Thursday Thirteen here....