I posed this question in our group message boards, and here’s what members have to say. Along with their comments, enjoy some featured items from different EtsyChai artists!
Anne of DowntoEarthCreations wrote:
“Oh, I love Simchat Torah! My favorite service was one where we unrolled the whole Torah and stood around in a circle with each congregant holding up one part. Our wonderful rabbi walked around and read a part from each person's section. It was sooooooo meaningful!”
Ruth of RuthFiberJudaica wrote:
“Simchat Torah is hard to write about. I have been in the most beautiful synagogues with meaningful services yet not everyone pulls off a good Simchat Torah. Why is this? I do not know. I can just encourage everyone to make it happen. Let loose (without going too far seems to be a challenge) and rejoice in our gift of the Torah. When my kids were little we made our own flags, they are now hanging in our Sukkah and I am waiting patiently for the next generation of flags! Please lets start making flags by hand!
Chag Semeach” (Happy Holiday)
Eileen of GoofingOff & MissEileen replied:
“When I was little, I lived on the navy base in Brooklyn. We didn't have a shul on base so my father (a Navy SeaBee) and another Jewish man (another SeaBee) went to the commanding officer to get permission to build one. Everyone in our little Jewish community and our friends took part in the building and planning. My sisters and I all took part in hammering and carrying wood, whatever we could do to make this wonderful thing happen. When it was close to being finished, one of the officers presented the Ten Commandments cut from wood, sanded, and finished to perfection. Then, the synagogue across the bay, lent us their Torah to use for our prayers and dedicate the shul. The beautiful woodwork and the scrolls come to mind whenever I think of Simchat Torah, the festival of the Torah.”
Lisa of Hautefelt answered:
“In our shul, all the children go up to the bima for a blessing. I love it when they stand up there, crowding under a tallit to receive something so beautiful and NON materialistic.
April of AgruArts said:
“Now, I don't know about other synagogues. But at mine, a Conservative one, they get as many people up as possible during the many aliyot. After each one, everyone exits the bimah (dais) through the rear, where shots or wine and hard liquor are poured and imbibed -- juice is available for the under-21 set. By the time all the readings and aliyot are done, everyone was a bit tipsy.”
Linda of Linda B’s Beaded Jewelry wrote:
“As a child, the only thing I remember about Simchat Torah is marching around the sanctuary with a flag and an apple. In my adult life as a Conservative Jewish woman, I am pleased to be able to hold a Torah and dance with it along with my fellow congregants. The Torah is the symbol of our people and what we hold holy. To hold it within my arms in a truly awesome, spiritual experience. And, our synagogue usually provides taffy apples for this holiday. I'm learning that it's usually about the food. It's funny, but true. ”
Shelley of Poemweave Designs & Gratitude Jewelry replied:
“We do something similar for Simchat Torah at our synagogue. The Torah is unrolled around the sanctuary, with about 50 members of the congregation holding it up. Then all the b'nai mitzvah kids from the last year (we only have about 12 b'nai mitzvah per year) stand in the appropriate place around the sanctuary in front of the scroll and read their maftir in order. My son will read tomorrow night since his bar mitzvah was just this past May.”
and my two cents, as I put together this post – Tammy from SILVER Mountain Originals:
“During Simchat Torah at my synagogue, there is the Consecration of the First Grade Class, and we all celebrate this milestone in their congregational life, parading through the sanctuary with the scrolls while singing, then unrolling and re-rolling the Torah for the coming year along with everyone carefully holding up an edge. It’s especially nice to see many generations together during services like this.” (I wasn’t going to put up my own comment until I saw this cute mezuzah case and thought it would make a nice gift for a child starting their Jewish education! - Tammy)
What are your holiday memories? Can you relate to any of these?