Shemini Atzeret (שמיני עצרת – “the Eighth [day] of Assembly”) is a Jewish holiday. It is celebrated on the 22nd day of the Hebrew month of Tishrei (first month of calendar). In the Diaspora, an additional day is celebrated, the second day being separately referred to as Simchat Torah. In Israel and Reform Judaism, the holidays of Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah are combined into a single day and the names are used interchangeably.
Jewish Holidays: Shemini Atzeret & Simkhat Torah
is also the holiday of Simkhat Torah. Outside of Israel, where extra days of holidays are held, only the
second day of Shemini Atzeret is Simkhat Torah. These two holidays are commonly thought of as part of
Sukkot, but that is technically incorrect; Shemini Atzeret is a holiday in its own right and does not involve the
special observances of Sukkot.
Shemini Atzeret literally means “the assembly of the eighth (day).” Rabbinic literature explains the holiday
this way: G-d is like a host, who invites us as visitors for a limited time, but when the time comes for us to
leave, He has enjoyed himself so much that He asks us to stay another day.
In some synagogues, confirmation ceremonies or ceremonies marking the beginning of a child’s Jewish
education are held at this time.
Shemini Atzeret and Simkhat Torah are holidays on which work is not permitted.