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Simchat Torah in the United States

Many Jewish communities in the United States celebrate Shemini Atzeret (or Shmini Atzeret) and Simchat Torah. Shemini Atzeret is a Jewish holiday dedicated to the love of God. Simchat Torah marks the end of the Sukkot (or Sukkoth) festival.

The Torah - Sacred Scripture of Judaism.
Simchat Torah focuses on rituals that involve the reading of the Torah.
Simchat Torah focuses on rituals that involve the reading of the Torah.
©iStockphoto.com/Robert Simon

What Do People Do?

Simchat Torah is a joyous event. Central rituals for Simchat Torah include reading the Torah by concluding the Book of Deuteronomy and beginning the Book of Genesis. Other activities include performing the hakafot (dancing with the Torah) around the synagogue bimah (elevated area or platform in a Jewish synagogue). Synagogues in cities such as Philadelphia have, in the past, held song and dance events to mark Simchat Torah.

Public Life

Many Jewish communities in the United States observe Shemini Atzeret on one day and Simchat Torah on the following day. These days are not nationwide public holidays in the USA but some Jewish organizations may be closed or offer a limited service to allow for festivities to occur on this day.

Background

The name "Shmini Atzeret" refers to the eighth day, or the extra day, that brings the seven-day Sukkot period to its state of perfection. Rabbinic tradition teaches that Shemini Atzeret is the day when the world is judged for water, or rainfall, in the upcoming year. It is an important day for agricultural purposes.

Simchat Torah is generally celebrated on the same day as Shemini Atzeret in Israel and among Reform Jewish groups. These two occasions are also observed as two separate days among many Jewish communities outside of Israel.

About Simchat Torah in other countries

Read more about Simchat Torah.

Simchat Torah Observances

Note: Jewish holidays begin at sundown the day before the date specified for the holiday.
WeekdayDateYearNameHoliday TypeWhere It is Observed
FriOct 12010Simchat TorahJewish holiday 
FriOct 212011Simchat TorahJewish holiday 
TueOct 92012Simchat TorahJewish holiday 
FriSep 272013Simchat TorahJewish holiday 
FriOct 172014Simchat TorahJewish holiday 
TueOct 62015Simchat TorahJewish holiday 
TueOct 252016Simchat TorahJewish holiday 
FriOct 132017Simchat TorahJewish holiday 
TueOct 22018Simchat TorahJewish holiday 
TueOct 222019Simchat TorahJewish holiday 
SunOct 112020Simchat TorahJewish holiday 

Quick Facts

Simchat Torah (Simchas Torah or Simhat Torah) is a Jewish holiday that marks the end of Sukkot and celebrates the completion of the annual reading of the Torah.

Simchat Torah 2016

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Simchat Torah 2017

Friday, October 13, 2017

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Name in other languages

NameLanguage
Simchat TorahEnglish
Simchat TorahSpanish
שמחת תורהHebrew
سيمشات توراةArabic
씸캇 토라Korean
Simchat toraNorwegian
Simchat TorahGerman
Note: Jewish holidays begin at sundown the day before the date specified for the holiday.

List of dates for other years

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Other holidays in October 2016 in the United States

Fun Holiday on October 25, 2016

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