Today is February 19, 2019 -
I apologize upfront for sounding like a heretic, but how did we decide that if we are going to bring our children to synagogue only one day per year, that it should be Yom Kippur and not Simchat Torah? I’m asking the question rhetorically because I know the answer. May we consider for a moment how different the landscape of American Judaism might look if we focused on one of the happiest days of the year instead of the most solemn day?
The celebration of Simchat Torah begins tonight in Israel, and tomorrow night in Conservative and Orthodox synagogues outside of Israel. For Reform synagogues, please check directly with the synagogue. (We can discuss this scheduling issue another time.)
Torah scrolls will be removed from their arks, and then there are different ways of celebrating in different synagogues. Some congregations parade the holy scrolls around the sanctuary. Other congregations encourage every attendee to take a turn holding a Torah while dancing and singing. I once attended a celebration in New York City, where several streets around the synagogue were closed off while thousands of Jews danced well into the night with their Torahs.
Rejoicing with our community over our shared heritage is very powerful. With all due respect to Yom Kippur, Simchat Torah is my favorite holiday of the year, and I look forward to celebrating it with my children.