After the High Holidays, at the end of Sukkot week, there are two more special Jewish holidays: Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah.
When the Temple stood in Jerusalem more than two thousand years ago, the people of Israel would make a pilgrimage there for Sukkot so they could observe the holiday together. After Sukkot, families would stay for one more day of celebration on Shemini Atzeret.
Simchat Torah comes at the end of the Sukkot week. It celebrates the “life source” of the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. “Simchat” is a Hebrew word that describes the happiness of having a weight lifted off your body. After weeks of saying sorry, we feel free of our past sins and can celebrate the Torah as a guide for joyful living in the year ahead.