Simchat Torah Suggestions

Now that we’re through kvetching about our Yom Kippur experiences, we can start analyzing Simchat Torah.

Simchat Torah is a difficult holiday for Orthodox women. It seems like the men are having the fun, while the women are sitting around waiting, watching, and mostly talking. I don’t mind sitting separately the rest of the year, when I am actually praying. But an hour and a half is too long to watch dancing, if you can call it that. My husband pointed out that the teenagers in the shul either went elsewhere or stood talking outside.

Our synagogue cut the hakafot (seven rounds of singing and dancing with the Torah scrolls) short in the morning. This worked out well, although the rabbi didn’t get to give his annual class. Maybe he could switch it to the evening.

They moved two Torah scrolls close to the mechitza (partition), so that the mothers could see and hear their under bar-mitzvah age sons reading. I missed that last year.

Modern Orthodox Singles writes about her experience, and Isramom has a roundup of blog posts on the subject. Be sure to look at Ilana-Davita’s post, and the comments.

Id like to hear more creative solutions for this annual problem.


  1. I have been reading many books about making Aliyah.
    Your blog inspires me to keep this dream alive.
    Thank you.

  2. Thanks for linking to me. It’s too lte now but tomorrow night I’ll try to round up al the links on the subject.
    Shabbat Shalom!

  3. I found this frustrating 35 years ago, and it’s still frustrating now. If you have a moment, check out my latest post on my blog, MotherThoughts.

  4. My shul in J-m had dancing for women with a Torah on our side of the mechitza. That seems to be the simplest solution and it’s perfectly fine halachically. It’s too bad more shuls don’t take advantage of that option.

  5. The shul at our Yishuv, like Abbi’s has tons of dancing on the women’s side with a sefer torah. What is wonderful, is that the teenage girls dance with the torah as well. We also have a women’s torah reading for zot habracha and all the women who want get an aliyah as well.This has also really helped the teenage girls get interested in the process.

  6. But what about all those shuls who do not send a Torah to the women’s side? I’m not a creative person and can’t think of a solution. I’ve commented at ID’s blog on this as well. I’ve tried a women’s tefilah group and did not feel satisfied with that either–I like to be where my family and fellow shul-mates are…
    I guess I shouldn’t be a grump about it. It’s not as if I want to have the obligation of going to minyan everyday etc. But I remember fondly my days in Bnei Akiva in New York where the women did get the Torah and how lively the dancing was…

  7. In one of my husband’s previous shuls, during the hakafos in the morning, there was a shiur for the women. In our current shul, we have the first 2 hakafos in the evening in the shul, where there is little space for dancing and then move into the hall for the rest. There is a mechitza down the middle and there plenty of space for the women to dance, with sifrei Torah which are passed over to them. This year was the best ever! in the morning, I don’t think very many women get there in time for hakafos, and my husband is makpid that the whole davenning shouldn’t take more than 4 hours – we start at 9 ( chutz la’aretz!) and finish at 1, following which we have a communal hot fleishig lunch, laid on by the shul for a nominal cost.

  8. Tired of Arguing says

    I gave up on Simchat Torah at shul years ago. I daven at home b’yechidut, then I spend the rest of the morning learning Torah by myself.

  9. B”H
    Thank you for mentioning my blog.

  10. My shul also has dancing on the women’s side with the Rebbetzin egging us on to dance better/longer than the men. 😉

  11. I forgot to mention something really nice that we do on our yishuv. In addition to honoring male members of the community with Chatan Torah and Chatan Breshit, whe chose two women to honor with Kallat Hayishiv. The Kallat Hayishuv does not have any ritual thing to do in the shul, but we announce it on Simchat torah in the evening. It is another way of making women feel part of the community and giving us a reason to dance.

  12. Our shul had an equal number of Torahs and dancing for the women, and separate Torah readings. While I’m not such feminist, on Simchat Torah, I’m happy to be there.

  13. rachel in israel says

    our yishuv is not so pro women, has a longg davening that drags for ours, so my husband went to vatikin (5:20 am till 9 am) instead of the normal (7:30 am till 2 pm). We had kiddush and breakfast, then we went to the main kiddush, danced for half an gour and went home to have lunch. This year vatikin had about 50% of the population, then there were the sephardic and yeshiva, so the main miniyan had about 25% or less. The rabbi of our yishuv has issues with any minyian formed that is not the main minyian. He also doesn’t want to change the way sichat torah is run at all. At this rate there will be no miniyan left to change 🙂

  14. Regular Anonymous says

    I avoided boredom this year by attending a women’s tefila group for Hallel and Kriat Hatorah. This left plenty of time to say Yizkor and daven musaf with my regular shul.
    Seeing an open Sefer Torah up close is an experience every Jewish woman should have. Yes, I know the words in the Chumash are the same but seeing the actuall scroll makes a difference.

  15. faith/emuna says

    there is a big enough womens section to dance but there usualy arent that many woman dancing. no sefer tora on our side but the truth is i dont know how many woman on our yishuv would want to take the responsiability (see the muqata) of dancing with a sefer tora (what do you think wbm?) there is a kiddush at 915 after 3 hakafot and then there is a womens shiur during the last 4. at this point in life it works for me.

  16. I also posted about Simchat Torah

  17. Late to the party, but catching up! LOL Our hakafot are in the Sukkah. (There is are actually two synagogues who share the building and this year we added a third community who recently lost their lease.) It used to bother me, but not a lot until I had my girls. Of course, i proudly call myself a feminist though I usually point out that equal doesn’t mean the same.
    Our sukkah fills the entire parking lot. We are friendly with all of the rabbanim and i’m planning on approaching them with the idea of a mechitzah for next year. I know that a lot of women this year were commenting that they were bored.