Resource Category: Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah

On Shemini Atzeret, we pray for the rain that protects and nurtures our world, giving us the peace of mind we need to connect with our heritage and tradition. And on Simchat Torah, we connect with our heritage and tradition, building resilience and a sense of self.

Judaism encourages us to question, to learn and to grow; it’s one of the unique and valued traditions of our religion. While we as Jews do this all year round, it is especially emphasized during the holidays at the beginning of a new year. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur offer us a chance to focus on self-reflection and improvement. Simchat Torah presents a different opportunity to celebrate and begin a fresh start to our Jewish growth and learning.
Simchat Torah speaks to us in two ways. First, the completion and renewal of the Torah can show those of us stuck in or holding onto the past that we can begin again, and we aren’t alone in our need for a fresh start. Second, when all else fails, sometimes we just need to move our body. Simchat Torah provides a jumpstart of fun, excitement and dance we can use to pull ourselves out of our own heads and into our bodies, which can serve as a form of informal dance therapy.
Water is an essential part of our lives, and on the holiday of Shemini Atzeret, we celebrate and pray for that water in the form of rain. While originally a prayer for rain in association with the yearly harvest, climate change and its accompanying consequences on our collective mental health has given it a renewed significance.