Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah

Shemini Atzeret (Sheh-MEE-nee At-ZERH-et, translated: "The Eighth Day of Assembly")

This the eighth day of Sukkot, and is a holiday in itself. A prayer for rain is perhaps Shemini Atzeret's sole distinct ritual, and reminds us that Sukkot is a harvest festival.

Simchat Torah, (SIM-chat Toh-RAH, translated: Rejoicing of the Law (or Book)

The hard ch is a guttural sound not found in the English language.
This holiday falls on the day following Shimini Atzeret. Every year from one Simchat Torah to the next, the Torah is read from start to finish.

McGillis Celebration

McGillis has a single "Ethics in Action" day for both Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah. This day will often focus on books and learning.

Traditional Celebration

The Torah comprises the first five books of Moses, which are the first five books of the Jewish Bible, also the first five books of what Christians call the Old Testament. The Torah is arranged into 54 portions, one for each Shabbat in the Jewish Year. On Simchat Torah, the annual reading is concluded and begun again. The holiday is celebrated in Synagogue or Temple by marching and dancing around the synagogue with the Torah in our arms.

Some Synagogues will unroll the entire Torah on Simchat Torah; it may take the entire congregation to carefully hold the entire 100-foot length of the scroll.

This holiday is one of joy and partying.