Simhat Torah

Over the course of the year, the Torah is read from beginning to end in the synagogue, from the first through the fifth Book of Moses. On Simhat Torah, literally “Rejoicing with the Torah,” the last chapter of the last Book and the first chapter of the first Book, which starts with the story of creation, are read together. This is to emphasize that the Torah has no end and that it should be read and studied time and again. The Torah is eternal like G’d who gave it to us.

Simhat Torah falls on the first month of the Jewish calendar which means the festival is celebrated in September or October. On the evening before the holiday, on Erev Simhat Torah, the ark is wide open. The decorated Torah scrolls are carried around the synagogue in festive processions for the worshippers to touch and kiss. Children take part in the procession with self-made flags and pennants. In many synagogues, people dance and candy is thrown for the children to collect.

Woodcut showing a bearded man who holds up a Torah scroll and dances with it.

Jakob Steinhardt, Thora Tänzer (Torah Dancer), ca. 1934; Jewish Museum Berlin, purchased with funds provided by Stiftung DKLB; photo: Jens Ziehe
You can find more information on Steinhardt's woodcut in our online collections (in German)

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