Thanks for your patience in going through all the holy days of the past 23 days with me. Tonight the long holiday period ends and we can return to life's blessed routine.
Today was Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah. Unlike in the Diaspora, these two holidays are compacted into one day in Israel. Simchat Torah mean Rejoicing in the Torah. In Orthodox synagogues the men dance and sing with the Torah scrolls. In Reform congregations the women and children join in in carrying the scrolls and everyone celebrates together.
The last parasha or portion of the last book, Deuteronomy, is chanted. To keep the reading cycle going unbroken, the scroll is either rewound or a different scroll is opened and the first chapter of Genesis is begun immediately.
I really couldn't take pictures in our moshav's traditional synagogue today. Instead here is my grandson with a "toy" Torah someone gave him, just to illustrate the scroll, pointer, mantel, and breastplate. A kosher Torah has to be hand-written in Hebrew on parchment by a special scribe.
You will no doubt enjoy sampling a new "translation" of these first five books of Moses that is just now being published, post by post, on a blog. Seth Brown is a young writer who worked from four English translations and put the Torah verses into rhyming verse!
So refreshing to read the familiar stories in new language! It is called From God to Verse.
Read about Seth's project here or here or start with "In the beginning" here.
UPDATE, Sept. 25, 2010: Seth Brown's book is now published and available on Amazon!