Simchat Torah

This morning was a special religious service for Erma’s consecration (welcome) to the religious school. Her teacher told us last week at school that we should practice the prayer she would need to know – the sh’ma.

Okay, this is a prayer that I actually know, so no problem.

However, because I am both an awesome Jew and Mother, it was Friday afternoon that I realized I had only taught her the first of the two lines she needed to know. Also, I realized that it was some kind of holiday in addition to the consecration, so I googled “Simchat Torah.”

Friday night, we were taking turns practicing the sh’ma and crying. And I was panicking about how to use the temple’s coffee machine, because the religious school parents were hosting the kiddush (after-party).

Well, everything went fine. First off, this totally awesome guy named Rob took care of the coffee. Second, my friend Lindsay showed up to make sure that everything went okay with Sigourney. And third, Erma stood under the talit with her classmates and said the sh’ma about as perfectly as any other five-year-old who has never known another word of Hebrew could say it.

The rabbi presented Erma with a consecration certificate and her own miniature Torah, in honor of her joining the religious school and in celebration of the holiday called Simchat Torah.

Close up of Erma’s miniature Torah and its velvet cover. I must have learned about Simchat Torah at some point in my childhood, because I own a (slightly less nice) mini Torah, too.

Toward the end of the service, the Torah scrolls were taken out of the Ark and paraded around the Temple. The kids had designed flags and we sang and danced around the sanctuary.

Erma’s flag creation.

After that, the Torah was unrolled on a table at the back of the sanctuary. Except for the small portion that was unrolled at my bat mitzvah, I had never seen a Torah enrolled, how all the pages were taped together.

Simchat Torah is the reading of the end of the Torah (the five books of Moses) and beginning again at the first of Genesis. The Torah is unrolled all the way to the end, and the rabbi told us about how each letter is hand printed, how some artistic license is taken with the lettering so to make it all fit neatly in the columns, and how almost every column starts with the letter ื• (the Hebrew letter vav). She told us that it takes 45 sheep skins to make one Torah, and that this Torah at our temple is over 100 years old and even survived a fire.

This is not our temple’s Torah, but it is similar. “Turn it, and turn it, for everything is in it.” – Rabbi Ben Bag-Bag

It was the most interesting Saturday morning service I have ever attended. What a cool document.


Erma may be the one enrolled in Hebrew school, but I feel like I am the one getting the education.


14 responses to “Simchat Torah

  1. Congratulations to Erma on an impressive achievement!

    And thank you for all the interesting information on the Torah that I never knew before.

  2. At 5, she knows more than I know at…my current age. Happy consecration.

    • Do you remember if I had a consecration? Everything I learned in Hebrew School is now very blurry. Except the time you guys blasted the horn during my occult class. (And “real bar mitzvah,” but I am not mentioning that.)

      • If you had a consecration, it was done within the confines of the class. And I have no recollection of whatever it was you did in class, if I ever even knew. Parents were required to attend X number of services, and so 2X + 4 (or 5) is the total number of services I attended in my entire life – the 4 or 5 being actual bar/bat mitzvahs, including yours and your brother’s.

  3. How interesting! Thank you for sharing!

  4. ilene cohen-pearson

    I am glad you a enjoyed the service! Welcome to you all ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thank you, Ilene. It was a fantastic service. I even noticed we had a visitor. I wonder how he found out about services. That was really cool that he just so happened to attend a really special service. : )

  5. It sounds like a wonderful day! Congratulations!

  6. Simchas Torah is one of my favourite holidays. Dancing, singing, and, in the case of frum shuls, drinking. It’s the culmination of Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, and Sukkos, and it’s such a great way to end/begin.

    a belated chag samayach

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