Thursday, October 4, 2007

Special Shiloh Simchat Torah Custom

I must admit that this is the first year I joined. I'm not sure when it started, but it must be going on for at least ten years. Our neighborhood has a special Simchat Torah Custom. I don't know if it's done in other places. It's not the kind of thing which can be documented, photographed. It happens on the Holiday of Simchat Torah.

It takes place during the Hakafot, when the men are dancing with the Torah Scrolls. Yes, in some synagogues a Sefer Torah is brought to the women for dancing; even in ours we've danced with a Sefer Torah. But the "action" takes place on the men's side.

A friend who is very familiar with "women's minyanim (prayer groups)" told me once that she thinks it would be better to take the women's prayer requirements and build a special women's prayer service to suit, rather than imitate the men.

In a sense, that's what my neighbor did. For years now she gathers young girls and a few women to go to homes of the elderly and infirm and sing and dance for them. She checks in advance to make sure the group will be welcome. In some cases, the knowledge that she's coming encourages them to dress, instead of staying in their robes. Many looked forward to the visit and had trays of treats for the kids. They were so happy to have guests.

Besides, singing and dancing, we spoke to the people and asked for stories and blessings. Many of us felt shy about entering the homes, but we felt so happy once we were there. And it's sure better than standing around "gossiping," while the "men have all the fun."

I don't know if other communities do anything similar, but it really made a Simchat Torah for me.


Anonymous said...

What a lovely creative way to celebrate dthe cycle of Tora and renewal! I agree with your friend that women need to find their own ways to express their commitment to Tora and the kadosh baruch hu.

At our synagogue in Rehovot, we danced (behind our mehitza - our shul has both a downstairs women's section and a balcony so those who just wanted to watch could watch from above.) After the first reading of the Tora the women were invited to another room where 4 women (volunteers) gave short divrei tora. So, while *ALL* the men were getting their aliyot we werelearning tora from each other.

Happy 'after the chagim' to one and all!

Batya said...

That does sound like a good solution.

nu? anything new?
Nothing here as far as I know...