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Sukkot, Shmini Atzeret, and Simchat Torah

 

Sukkot begins on the 15th day of the Jewish month of Tishrei, in September or October. Sukkot 2020 begins at sundown on Friday, October 2. Shmini Atzeret (and Simchat Torah in some communities) begins at sundown on Friday, October 9. Communities that celebrate Simchat Torah seperate from Shmini Atzeret will observe this additional day of holiday beginning in the evening on Saturday, October 10 and concluding in the evening on Sunday, October 11.

 

Sukkot, the Festival of Booths, commemorates the Biblical period of wandering in the desert. A temporary shelter (a sukkah) is built outside the home and used to take meals and even sleep in it for the duration of the one-week holiday. The "eighth day" of Sukkot, known as Shmini Atzeret, can be considered a separate holiday. It marks the beginning of the rainy season in Israel and the year's first prayer for rain, so that the ground might be prepared for planting when springtime arrives.

 

The sukkah has at least three sides, and the roof is made of branches called schach that provide shade during the day yet also allow people to see the stars through them at night. Meals in the sukkah are often shared with family and friends — and through a welcoming ceremony called ushpizin, Biblical ancestors are symbolically invited in as well. Sukkot is also a harvest festival, which in ancient times involved a pilgrimage to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. To give thanks for the harvest bounty, particularly that of the Land of Israel, four plant species are held together and waved in the air: lulav (palm), etrog (citron), hadas (myrtle) and arava (willow).

 

Simchat Torah celebrates the completion of one year's cycle of weekly Torah readings during Shabbat services and the beginning of another. Synagogues' Torah scrolls are brought out to the congregation for singing and dancing, which sometimes spills into the street outside. Some unroll an entire Torah scroll while the congregation stands in a circle and holds it. The last Torah portion is read as many times as necessary so that all those who wish to can be honored with an aliyah, an opportunity to say a blessing before and after the Torah reading.


Chabad Center for Jewish Life: Orthodox | 2640 W. 96th St., Carmel | 317-251-5573 | chabadindiana.org | rabbi@lubavitchindiana.com


Congregation Beth-El Zedeck: Reconstructionist/Conservative | 600 W. 70th St., Indianapolis | 317-253-3441 | bez613.org | bez613@bez613.org


Congregation Beth Shalom: Reform | 849 W. 96th St., Indianapolis | 317-306-5644 | bethshalomindy.org | info@bethshalomindy.org

Congregation B'nai Torah: Orthodox | 6510 Hoover Rd., Indianapolis | 317-253-5253 | btorahindy.org | office@btorah.org


Congregation Shaarey Tefilla: Conservative | 3085 W. 116th St., Carmel | 317-733-2169 | shaareytefilla.org | office@shaareytefilla.org


Etz Chaim Sephardic Congregation: Sephardic Orthodox | 6939 Hoover Rd., Indianapolis | 317-251-6220 | etzchaimindy.org | president@etzchaimindy.org


Humanistic Judaism: 317-721-2747 | HumanisticJewsIndy@gmail.com


Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation: Reform | 6501 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis | 317-255-6647 | ihcindy.org | info@ihcindy.org


Temple B'nai Israel: Reform | 618 W. Superior St., Kokomo | 765-452-0383 | TempleBnaiIsraelKokomo@gmail.com



 Sukkot (Festival of Booths)

 Beth-El Zedeck

 Fri., Oct. 2

6:00 pm

 Erev Shabbat and Erev Sukkot via Zoom

Virtual Service - Join Via Zoom

 Sat., Oct. 3

6:00 pm

 Sukkot Festival Service

Virtual Service - Join Via Livestream

 Fri., Oct. 9

6:00 pm

 Erev Simchat Torah & Consecration

Virtual Service - Join Via Zoom

 Sat., Oct. 10

10:00 am

 Shmini Atzeret/Simchat Torah & Yizkor Memorial Service

Virtual Service - Join Via Livestream

Beth Shalom

 Fri., Oct. 9

6:30 pm

 Simchat Torah/Consecration

Contact Office for Details

Etz Chaim

 Sat., Oct. 3

 Shaharit - 9:00 am; Mincha - 7:30 pm; Aravit - 8:10 pm

In-Person - See Website for COVID Regulations

 Sun., Oct. 4

 Shaharit - 9:00 am; Mincha - 7:30 pm; Aravit - 8:10 pm

In-Person - See Website for COVID Regulations

 Fri., Oct. 9

 Hashana Raba Shaharit - 6:00 am; Mincha - 7:15 pm; Aravit and Chag - 8:10 pm

In-Person - See Website for COVID Regulations

 Sat., Oct. 10

 Shemini Azeret Shaharit - 9:00 am; Mincha - 7:15 pm; Aravit - 8:10 pm

In-Person - See Website for COVID Regulations

 Sat., Oct. 10

 Simchat Torah & Hatkafot Shaharit - 9:00 am; Mincha - 7:30 pm; Aravit - 8:10 pm

In-Person - See Website for COVID Regulations

IHC

 Fri., Oct. 2

6:15 pm

 Erev Sukkot & Shabbat Service

Virtual Service - Click Here

 Fri., Oct. 9

6:15 pm

 Shabbat and Simchat Torah

Virtual Service - Click Here

Shaarey Tefilla

 Fri., Oct. 2

6:30 pm

 Erev Sukkot

Virtual Service - Click Here for Info

 Sat., Oct. 3

 First Day Shaharit - 9:00 am; Mincha/Maariv - 6:30 pm

Virtual Service - Click Here

 Sun., Oct. 4

9:00

 Second Day Shaharit

Virtual Service - Click Here

 Fri., Oct. 9

6:30 pm

 Erev Shemini Azteret

Virtual Service - Click Here for Info

 Sat., Oct. 10

 Shemini Atzeret/Yizkor Shaharit - 9:00 am; Mincha/Maariv - 6:30 pm

Virtual Service - Click Here

 Sun., Oct. 11

9:00

 Simchat Torah Shaharit

Virtual Service - Click Here

Online Holiday Resources & Opportunities:

Pj Library offers a great selection of family-friendly sukkot resources including holiday themed book for school-aged children, at-home craft projects, and recipes for fun snacks for the sukkah.

Add a bit of Yisraeli-ut (Israeliness) to your holiday experience and explore the different names of Sukkot in Hebrew with this resource from the iCenter. Be sure to check out their full range of Sukkot resources.

Looking for a meaningful way to decorate a Sukkah? HIAS offers posters highlighting the narrative of eight refugees and displaced persons to hang in your sukkah as Jews recreate the experience of Israelites finding refuge after escaping salvery in Egypt.

Be'chol Lashon, an organization raising awareness about ethnic, racial and cultural diversity of Jewish identity and experience, has compiled a variety of stories, recipes, and articles to enhance your Sukkot

From the Orthodox Union, enjoy learning opportunities with the "Chag at Home" hub. This resource offerings video lessons and holiday explanations as well as reading materials to enjoy.

Ritualwell, an initiative of Reconstructing Judaism, offers a wide variety of DIY rituals and original poetry and blogs to enhance your Sukkot holiday.

From four USYers, check out their favorite Sukkot traditions and maybe find something new to add to your own Sukkot experience.

The Union for Reform Judaism offers a library of Sukkot resources including family activities, recipes, and holiday explainers to make this Sukkot special.