By Rabbi Marc Rosenstein, 9/25/2013
On the fifteenth day of the seventh month there shall be the Feast of Sukkot to the Lord, seven days. The first day shall be a sacred occasion: you shall not work oat your occupations; seven days you shall bring offerings by fire to the Lord. On the eighth day you shall observe a sacred occasion and bring an offering by fire to the Lord; it is a solemn gathering: you shall not work at your occupations.
– Leviticus 23:33-36
No one is sure when the holiday of Simchat Torah began to be observed. In fact, it is not really a holiday in its own right – which doesn't... Read More
By Rabbi Donald Kunstadt , 10/14/2012
I’ve come to the conclusion we need to change the date of Simchat Torah. Our Jewish festivals must be re-envisioned as inspirational community gatherings of joyful spiritual Jewish celebration. Every single festival needs to be a time of great community involvement and meaning. To not maximize that possibility is a mistake that can easily be fixed. Here are the basics. Though the pilgrimage festivals originally had agrarian roots, we are no longer an agrarian people. Exactly how many Jewish farmers do you know? With all due respect to the kibbutz movement in Israel, and to the fact I... Read More
By Howard Lev , 10/12/2012
Thanks to social media and electronic devices you can check in on Foursquare and read the Mishkan T'filah prayer book on a handheld device at the same time. Yet for all the modern inventions, the Torah remains unaffected. I have had the honor of watching as a scribe slowly and meticulously writes the letters by hand and as the Torah was certified “kosher,” and I just can’t imagine someone holding up an iPad when performing the ritual of hagbaha, the raising of the Torah. For me, Torah has been a part of temple life from bar mitzvah to Simchat Torah.
Midrash and Torah study with our clergy... Read More
By Deborah Niederman, 10/09/2012
I did not have a typical Reform Movement upbringing, and would say that the three years I lived on an island in Alaska are probably most emblematic of that. People often ask me, "What did you do in Alaska?" And my answer is, "I went to junior high." This means that we lived in Ketchikan during my 13th year, the year I would have become Bat Mitzvah. When we moved to California for my high school years, I went back to religious school, became an aide in the temple office and was confirmed. But I always felt like I had missed something by not reading Torah at 13 and not going to religious school... Read More
By P.J. Schwartz , 10/02/2012
Every year, the season of reflection and renewal is culminated by the celebration of Simchat Torah (literally “the rejoicing of the Torah”). On this day, we read the concluding section of Deuteronomy and immediately thereafter return to Genesis and read the creation narrative. The last verses of the Book of Deuteronomy remind us that never again would there be a leader like Moses, who uniquely dialogued with God panim el panim, face to face. I have always understood these final words to be the redactor’s (editor’s) eulogy for Moses, yet there is no statement in our text that explicitly states... Read More