Photos: Jews Celebrate High Holiday of Simchat Torah [PHOTOS]
By Ewan Palmer | Sep 26, 2013 11:20 PM EDT
Jewish people around the world were celebrating the holiday of Simchat Torah, which marks the conclusion of the annual Torah reading cycle.
Translated as "rejoicing in the law", Simchat Torah takes place immediately after the festival of Sukkot in the month of Tishrei. The celebrations take place in mid-September to early October on the Gregorian calendar.
Each week in synagogue, Jewish people publicly read a few chapters from the Torah, starting with Genesis chapter 1 and finishing with Deuteronomy 34. On Simchat Torah, they read the last Torah portion, then proceed immediately to the first chapter of Genesis and begin the cycle again.
The main celebrations take place in the evening and morning in the synagogue. The Torah scrolls are removed from the ark and held by members of the congregation. It is also traditional to dance around the synagogue - known as hakafot - while everyone kisses the Torah scrolls as they pass.
Jewish people also dance and sing with the Torah to celebrate a new year of reading. Sometimes the scrolls are carried out into the streets where the celebrations continue.
In some Orthodox congregations, the ceremony is the only time the scrolls are removed from the ark and read at night.
Once the Torah holders return to the ark everyone forms a circle around them and dances with them.
Simchat Torah is one of the most celebrated of all Jewish holidays, meaning the services are not as formal other events. Alcohol is drunk in some congregations and others make a game out of singing as loudly as possible.
Ultra-Orthodox Jews dance with the Scroll of the Torah during the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah at a synagogue in the Mea Shearim neighborhood of JerusalemSource: Reuters Date:09/26/2013
Jews around the world rejoice during the holiday, which marks the final reading of the Torah, and the renewal of the cycle for the coming yearSource: Reuters Date:09/26/2013
Dancing plays a huge part in the Simchat Torrah celebrationsSource: Reuters Date:09/26/2013
The synagogue's Torah scrolls are removed from the ark and danced with during the ceremonySource: Reuters Date:09/26/2013
Israeli soldiers dance with Torah scrolls during the celebrations of Simchat Torah at the Eshkol regional council in the NegevSource: Reuters Date:09/26/2013
The main celebration of Simhat Torah takes place in the synagogue during evening and morning servicesSource: Reuters Date:09/26/2013