Home   Calendar   Holidays   the United States   Simchat Torah
Flag for USA

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.

Is Simchat Torah a Public Holiday?

Simchat Torah is not a public holiday. Businesses have normal opening hours.

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.

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday TypeArea
2010FriOct 1Simchat TorahJewish holiday 
2011FriOct 21Simchat TorahJewish holiday 
2012TueOct 9Simchat TorahJewish holiday 
2013FriSep 27Simchat TorahJewish holiday 
2014FriOct 17Simchat TorahJewish holiday 
2015TueOct 6Simchat TorahJewish holiday 
2016TueOct 25Simchat TorahJewish holiday 
2017FriOct 13Simchat TorahJewish holiday 
2018TueOct 2Simchat TorahJewish holiday 
2019TueOct 22Simchat TorahJewish holiday 
2020SunOct 11Simchat TorahJewish holiday 

You might also like

Look Up for Shooting Stars!

Look Up for Shooting Stars!

The Leonid meteor shower is active now and peaks on Nov 17/18. Use our Interactive Meteor Shower Sky Map to see when and where to best see these shooting stars. more

Commuters and tourists in Canary Wharf, London, United Kingdom.

Daylight Saving Time (DST)

Daylight Saving Time (DST) is the practice of setting the clocks forward 1 hour from standard time during the summer months, and back again in the fall, in order to make better use of natural daylight. more

Calendar with 12 months

12 Months of the Year

The 12 months of the year are linked to the Moon's orbit around Earth. Why are there 12 months? What do the month names mean? more