Shemini Atzeret – The 8th Day of the Assembly

The Jewish holiday Shemini Atzeret is known as “the 8th Day of the Assembly” and is closely related to the Jewish holiday Simchat Torah. In Israel, both Jewish holidays are celebrated on the same day, Tishri 22, but in the Diaspora, Shemini Atzeret is celebrated on Tishri 22 and 23 and Simchat Torah is celebrated on Tishri 23. Sound confusing? Basically if you’re In Israel, you celebrate both on the same day, and in the Diaspora you get two back-to-back Jewish holidays!

Pray for Rain!

Because Shemini Atzeret falls on the day after Sukkot, is sometimes referred to as the 8th day of Sukkot, which is incorrect. It is because Sukkot has ended, and the sukkahs have been put away, that on Shemini Atzeret we begin to pray for rain. You wouldn’t want it to rain on your sukkah and get all wet behind the ears, would you? We at JDate think not. In synagogue, the Geshem prayer is said with a distinctively plaintive melody by the cantor. The cantor is also dressed in a kittel, symbolizing purity, to help in the plea to G-d for rainfall.

Stay a While…

The Jewish holiday Shemini Atzeret literally translates to, “the 8th Day of the Assembly.” Rabbinic literature describes the Jewish holiday this way: Our Creator is like a host, who invites us visitors for a limited time (the seven days of the Jewish holiday Sukkot), but when it’s time for us to leave, He has enjoyed Himself so much, that the Creator invites the Jewish people to stay an extra day for a more intimate celebration. And who could blame Him?

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