What is Simchat Torah?
Simchat Torah is the holiday that celebrates the reading of the last portion (parashah) of the Torah and the immediate reading of the first portion (parashah) of the Torah. Since the Torah is a scroll we resume reading it immediately.
Why is it the minhag (tradition/custom) at Or Chadash to open the Torah around the perimeter of the room?
The Torah is not kept in a glass enclosed box. It is open and accessible for all to read. We celebrate this special “book” by opening it up in its entirety and displaying it around the perimeter of the room on Simchat Torah. This only happens once a year.
I thought I could not touch the Torah directly with my fingers!
Everyone will be given white cloth gloves to wear to protect their fingers from distributing oil on the parchment paper of the Torah.
Can I talk to the people to my left and right when I am holding the Torah as it is encircling the room?
Yes! This is an opportunity to meet folks. Introduce yourself. You do not have to be quiet. This is not a library!
Why is everyone walking around with flags?
On Simchat Torah, we are celebrating the Torah, and part of the “minhag” (custom) for this holiday is to walk around the synagogue with flags. Our flags are soft foamy sticks, so we do not have to worry about eyes getting poked!
For additional information please visit: https://reformjudaism.org/jewish-holidays/simchat-torah-and-shmini-atzeret