Atzeret-Simchat Torah

Atzeret means “Gathering” and Simchat Torah means “Rejoicing in the Torah.” This holiday marks the completion of the annual cycle of weekly Torah readings. In our regular weekly Shabbat services (in non-pandemic time), we publicly read a few chapters from the Torah, starting with the first verse of Genesis, and continuing to Deuteronomy 34. On Simchat Torah, we read the final chapter of the Torah, telling of Moses’ death, then rewinding the Torah, proceed immediately to the first chapter of Genesis, reminding us that the Torah is a circle, and never ends. Of course, our Torah reading is accompanied by lots of singing and dancing with the Torah, and when we are in-person, we unroll the entire Torah with the participation of all assembled. As a carryover from ancient times, and in recognition of it being the start of the rainy season in Israel, we say a special prayer for Geshem, a rain that is helpful and nurturing, not harmful, on this day. Atzeret-Simchat Torah falls on the 22nd of Tishrei. Learn more about Atzeret-Simchat Torah on the URJ website.