The Quick Guide to Simchat Torah

Simchat Torah, which is celebrated directly after Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret,* is the annual cycle of reading the entire Torah beginning to end in synagogue is celebrated. (*While this is common practice in the diaspora, in Israel Simchat Torah and Shemini Atzeret are frequently celebrated as one— though recognition of their value as separate days has grown in recent years!)

The highlight of Simchat Torah (which means “The Joy of the Torah”) is the hakafot, in which families will march and dance with the Torah scrolls around the reading table in the synagogue.

After seven hakafot rounds of parading and dancing with the Torah, the final passages of the Book of Devarim, Deuteronomy are read, turning the last “page” on the Torah. But, wait now, we don't just stop there…

What do you do when you get to the last page of a truly great book? Start it all over again of course!

Immediately after completing the Torah, we begin again, as it goes with the cycle of ends and beginnings, by returning to the beginning reading the first passage of Breishit, Genesis.

Synagogue on Simchat Torah is a place of joyful celebration! This can be an especially fun holiday for smaller children, who get to parade, ride on their parents' shoulders during dancing and delight in the festivities.

Under 5


A synagogue on holidays like Simchat Torah can be raucous, so why not practice the seven hakafot rounds in your living room beforehand! Repetition is a strong comedic tool— have fun with it!


Simchat Torah is Coming
by Tracy Newman

Recommended for ages 2 to 3 Years

Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot have just ended, and the synagogue is getting ready to have a big celebration with its Torah. What holiday is coming? You guessed it.

Sammy Spider's First Simchat Torah
by Sylvia Rouss

Recommended for ages 2 to 3 Years

Sammy Spider and Josh both learn about the celebration of Simchat Torah - complete with Israeli flags, stories, conversation, and a parade through the synagogue.

Over 5

Activity: Make an edible Torah!

Follow the instructions below:


  • 1 extra-large flat tortilla

  • Jar of almond butter

  • Chocolate sprinkles

  • 2 large pretzel rods

  • Licorice string

  • Sharp knife

  • Butter knife

  • Flat cutting board


  1. Place the tortilla on the cutting board, and have an adult use the sharp knife to cut the round edges off the tortilla to create a large rectangle.

  2. Using the butter knife, cover the rectangular tortilla you've made with almond butter.

  3. Scatter chocolate sprinkles in rows to represent Hebrew letters.

  4. Place one pretzel rod on each end of the tortilla rectangle and roll inward, so the tortilla wraps around the pretzel rod. Do this on both short sides of the tortilla.

  5. Take the two pretzel rods and roll them in towards the middle. When they meet in the middle, tie the “Torah” together with the licorice string.

  6. Bite into your tasty Torah, and enjoy! Think about how delicious it is to hear the Torah read aloud as you bite into it.


When Zaydeh Danced On Eldridge Street
by Elsa Okon Rael

Recommended for ages 8+

Zeesie is a little afraid of Zaydeh, her grandfather. He's always so serious and stern. But when Simchat Torah rolls around, Zeesie sees a different side of him. Something about this holiday brings out joy in everyone -- even Zaydeh!



How It's Made: Torah Scroll
Instructional video on what goes into the making of Torah scrolls


Play a storytelling game to create your own family story to revisit year after year.


7 Fun Things To Do On Simchat Torah
PJ Library Staff Picks (Part 2): Simchat Torah Special
What Is Simchat Torah?