By Laura Seymour
Everyone has a favorite holiday and it comes as no surprise to those who know me that my favorite is Simchat Torah. What biblioholic would not love a holiday that celebrates a special book?
Judaism is a wonderful religion that has so many facets and entryways. Some love the rituals, some love the spirituality, some love playing basketball at the Aaron Family JCC — however we define our Jewishness, we add that to our identity.
For those of you who love the intellectual connection with Judaism and God, Simchat Torah is your holiday — and for those who love all and any of the other ways, Simchat Torah still is your holiday). We celebrate the cycle of reading the entire Torah coming to an end and beginning again with ritual, song and dancing together — this is the best holiday to go to synagogue.
As you read this, Simchat Torah will have passed but not the excitement, hopefully. Let’s not ever forget the message of Simchat Torah. Here it is from David Ackerman, senior vice president of the JCC Association and director of its Mandel Center for Jewish Education
“The moment we finish V’zot Habrachah and complete the annual cycle of Torah reading, we turn back to Genesis, the beginning of the Torah, and start the cycle anew. This is a return to the past, to the beginning of the Jewish (and the world’s) story. Recalling the past stabilizes us while we catch our breath.
“The very next thing we do, though, is read the Haftorah, the prophetic selection, from the book of Joshua, Moses’ successor. Joshua is the future, the next adventure of the Jewish people as they enter the land. So on Simchat Torah, when we are light-headed from circling around V’zot Habrachah, and from dancing in circles with the Torah, we clear our heads by looking first to the past, and then to the future.
“Simchat Torah teaches no moment is isolated in time. We are always connected simultaneously to our past and to our future.”
May we continue reading and learning for today and generations to come.
Laura Seymour is director or Jewish life and learning and director of camping services at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center in Dallas.