Sukkot & Simchat Torah

The Yamim Nora’im, or the High Holy Day season, continues after Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur with the festival of Sukkot. One of the three agricultural pilgrimage holidays, Sukkot is a time to reexamine our relationship with nature and to remind ourselves of our vulnerability. During this time, we build sukkot, or makeshift huts, and eat in them for seven days. This allows us to reconnect with the earth and strip away that which no longer serves us.

We look forward to having you in Temple Israel’s sukkah for a week full of learning, praying, and togetherness. We offer Sukkot experiences for all ages and areas of interest as we recommit ourselves to our planet and to our vision of shelter for all people in this world.

The cycle of the High Holy Days concludes with Simchat Torah, as we celebrate completing our annual reading of the Torah. We demonstrate our commitment to Torah by immediately starting again from the beginning, reminding ourselves that Torah is a lifelong gift that never ceases to nourish and sustain us. We celebrate Simchat Torah with joy and laughter, as we dance and sing with the Torah scrolls!

The Temple Israel Czech Torah Scroll

Our Czech Torah Scroll was transcribed in 1840 and used by a small Jewish community living in the village of Blatna in what is now the Czech Republic. In 1942, the Jews of Blatna were deported from their town to a concentration camp and, like many Nazi-occupied Jewish communities, Blatna’s Jewish community was brutally destroyed.

What is miraculous is that our scroll, like hundreds of other Czech scrolls, survived. Courageous leaders from the Czech Jewish Museum in Prague somehow convinced the Nazis to permit them to collect and store Jewish ritual and cultural treasures from the city and regions beyond. The Michele Synagogue, in the suburbs of Prague, became the warehouse for the Torah scrolls and there they stayed until 1964. Then, Jews from the Westminster Synagogue in London purchased 1,564 Czech scrolls and set about restoring as many as possible. Since so many of the Jewish communities in the Czech Republic and that region had been decimated, the Westminster Synagogue and its Memorial Scrolls Trust distributed scrolls to synagogues around the world. In 1975, Temple Israel was fortunate to receive our Blatna scroll on permanent loan.

In February 2014, Rabbi Elaine Zecher and Rabbi Emeritus Ronne Friedman traveled with 28 Temple Israel members and our Czech Torah scroll to Prague and London to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the restoration of Czech scrolls saved from destruction during World War II. Our Temple Israel family will cherish forever the Jewish community from Blatna.