IT’S the Jewish festival season – and Simchat Torah is now just days away.
But when is the holiday, and how do Jews celebrate the Torah? Here’s what you need to know…
What is Simchat Torah?
Simchat Torah simply translates as ‘rejoicing with the Torah’.
The Torah is first part of the Jewish bible – and refers to the five books of Moses.
Jews believe that God dictated the Torah to Moses on Mount Sinai, 50 days after they escaped Egyptian slavery.
It contains 613 commandments, written in Hewbrew – but, like in Christianity, there are 10 statements which are considered key to daily life.
Simchat Torah marks the end of an annual cycle of weekly Torah readings – and the beginning of a new cycle.
It is also about celebrating study and religious learning.
When is Simchat Torah?
Simchat Torah is a day-long festival. Like Easter, it’s a movable feast – which is observed on the 22nd-23rd day of Tishrei.
This year, begins on the evening of Thursday October 12, and continues until dusk on the Friday.
During this time, Jews will greet each other by saying “Chag Sameach!” (happy holiday).
How is Simchat Torah celebrated?
On the first evening of Simchat Torah, Jews take all the Torah scrolls out of the ark in their synagogue.
They then spend the evening dancing, singing and rejoicing – while carrying the scrolls around in seven circles called hakafot.
Alcohol is typically drunk during the festival, while people often take the scrolls out into the street – to show their pride at being Jews.
On the following morning, the last portion of the Torah is read aloud in the Synagogue – followed by the start of the book of Genesis.
Why are cabbage rolls eaten at Simchat Torah?
Stuffed cabbage is a popular meal choice at Simchat Torah, because of its cylindrical shape – which is similar to that of the Torah scroll.
Another cylindrical food which is often made is blintzes – a thin, crepe-like pancake filled with cheese.
Some people also like to make Torah-shaped cookies for the holidays.