From Rosh Chodesh Elul until the HaShannah Rabbah marks a 50 day period of self improvement. When the gates of judgment are finally closed, we could just pack things up and go back to the way things were. God adds one more day to celebrate and savour what we have become before we return to our regular lives. It is the only holiday with no specific mitzvot. Chazal decided to fill that void by creating Simchat Torah.
This year this time period has been a time of transition for the whole family as are feeling more and more at home in our new community.
There were a number of highlights during the chag:
Dancing with my father during his Hakafa while holding Shlomo's hand.
When I had my HaKafa Shlomo came running over to help me hold the sefer Torah.
I had the cross over hagbah. It was a lot easier than it looks.
Being in a very Israeli (re: Hebrew Speaking) shul and they still sang the english verse to Matza Chein
In Israel they often do what are called Hakafot Shniot. The basic idea is that Jews in chul are celebrating Simchat Torah a day later we can also celebrate that night. It usually involves some sort of dancing with Sifrei Torah and live music. We went once or twice in RBS before it was cancelled.
This year we choose between the 3 most publicized options. Two of them were at nearby shuls and the third was at the AmpiPark. Pircehi Yerushalim was the main attraction at the AmpiPark which run out. My parents came with Channah and myself.
I would say the ampitheatre holds somewhere between 2000 and 2500 people. I would say that there were about 1000 people there. We enjoyed the concert and I really enjoyed spending time with Channah. She had some great witty insights into the evening, as well as showing off how incorporated she is to Israeli culture. One song 'Hello' (by Adele) was introduced as as a way to keep the teenagers from leaving. Channah asked me what it had to do with Simchat Torah.
A couple of songs later they announced here come the Sefrei Torah. About two or three sifrei Torah were brought to the front of the seating. A lot of people left their seats to go dance. Pirchei kept singing with some Bresolevers joining in my playing giant shofars. When the medley was finished Prichei was done for the night and the Breslevors took over the entertainment for the evening.
I have written many times about how Simchat Torah can be a time of joy, reflection and sadness all mixed into one. This year, I just enjoyed being able to be me.