Two Jewish Holidays You May Never Have Heard Of

Two Jewish Holidays You May Never Have Heard Of

Have you ever heard of these Jewish holidays?

Shemini Atzeret occurs on the eighth day of Sukkot. This year, it will begin on the evening of Sunday, October 16, and last until the evening of Tuesday, October 18. In the Torah, God commands the eighth (shemini) day of Sukkot to be observed in a special way as an atzeret (a word which may mean “solemn gathering”). The word’s meaning is unclear, leaving sages to ponder about whether this holiday is meant to be observed as part of Sukkot or celebrated on its own. Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch (1808-1888) suggested that the holiday is meant to be observed by “gathering” or “storing up” gratitude for the blessings of the fall season.

Shemini Atzeret is often celebrated in conjunction with Simchat Torah, which means “rejoicing in the Torah.” Simchat Torah is the day when the year’s Torah readings conclude and restart. When observed in the synagogue, on Simchat Torah, the end of Deuteronomy and the beginning of Genesis are read, so that the annual cycle of Torah reading remains unbroken. Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah are days to rejoice in God’s blessings, especially the blessing of His Word.


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