Shemini Atzeret

Eighth Day of Assembly
  • Major Holidays
Shemini Atzeret

Shemini Atzeret

שמיני עצרת

She-MEE-nee Ahtz-ER-et

“The Pause of the Eighth Day”

What is Shemini Atzeret

In the Diaspora, the holiday is two days: the first is Shemini Atzeret, where there are no special commandments or customs, and the second is referred to as Simchat Torah. In Israel, this is a one-day holiday, referred to as Simchat Torah only. While the Torah only mentions celebrating the day with special sacrifices, this holiday has become a celebration of the Torah, as the yearly cycle of Torah reading concludes and begins again on Simchat Torah.

When is Shemini Atzeret

Tishrei 22

Outside of Israel this holiday is celebrated for an extra day



Alternate Names for Shemini Atzeret

  • Simchat Torah – “The Rejoicing of the Torah”

Commandments (Mitzvot) of Shemini Atzeret

  • Observing the holiday – not doing work, similar to the Sabbath, and having festive meals.

Customs of Shemini Atzeret

  • The prayer for rain – a special prayer asking G-d for a good rainy season is added into the holiday prayer service, as the holiday marks the beginning of the rainy season in Israel.
  • Hakafot – to celebrate the finishing of the Torah, Torah scrolls are held by members of the congregation as the congregation dances around them. This celebration is split into seven sets, each of which begins with a supplication to G-d to save the nation and answer their prayers.
  • Finishing the Torah and restarting it – after a year of reading one portion of the Five Books of Moses per week, the Torah is finally completed. It is customary to start the Torah anew immediately after finishing it to show that one is never done learning it.

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