Eight Things about Simchat Torah

Better late than never. Even though Simchat Torah is a holiday in its own right, we tend to think of it as the eighth day of Sukkot.

  1. Preparing for one day of Simchat Torah is easy, especially when it falls on a weekday and cooking is allowed. On Friday we did laundry, put away most of the sukkah, cleaned the house and cooked a bit more.
  2. My husband received the honor of Hatan Bereshit. He was gabbai for two years and often reads the Torah, even though some congregants don’t enjoy his “ashkenazis” pronunciation. I got my moment of glory in the ezrat nashim, where the women wished me mazal tov. Of course the honor comes with a price — he is expected to make a sizable donation to the shul.
  3. I heard that in the community of Oranit, the women decided to award a woman in the community the honor of “Eishet Chayil” (woman of valor). Nice idea, but I could never see it happening in our shul.
  4. The candy bags passed out to each child (aged 1-16) included a Pesek Zman candy bar clearly marked “Kosher for Passover.”
  5. The shul serves kiddush after the hakafot. They held the last hakafa outside, and I missed hearing kiddush because I stopped to talk to someone. They had run out of wine! By the time they located some, I had given up and gone home. I wanted to get back in time to hear the rabbi’s talk to the women during the Torah reading.
  6. The woman whose child interrupted kedusha on the first day of the holiday removed a screaming child during the silent amidah of musaf. I admit that I turned around to check if it was her. She didn’t take her out immediately so I don’t know if she tried to finish her prayer or not.
  7. Except for that, musaf was unusually quiet. Usually a dull roar remains after the hakafot and Torah reading where the women have little to do but chat. The only reason I can imagine for the change is that the number of women who say Yizkor (memorial prayer for parents and other relatives said four times a year; those with both parents living leave the shul for this prayer) has reached a critical mass. Eight people in our shul are currently in mourning for a parent. Yizkor has a way of disrupting the flow of conversation.
  8. I think I should write a beginner’s guide to Yizkor . I’ve been going for 16 years, and only now do I understand what is going on there.

Anyway, most of my kids are back in school and we’ll soon find out whether things can get back to “normal” around here. Stay tuned for an update on the first grade situation.