I know this is a couple of days late, but here is something I wrote that reflects on the recent end of the Jewish holidays.
Sep. 19, 2013 |
Rabbi Bryan Kinzbrunner
Oscar and Ella Wilf Campus for Senior Living
For the past couple of years, I have had the unique privilege of celebrating Simchat Torah with my residents at the Martin and Edith Stein Assisted Living Residence. As we begin the ritual of the day, carrying the Torah scroll around the Bima (lectern) seven times in celebration of the annual completion of reading the Five Books of Moses, I am always taken with how valuable marching around a Torah Scroll can be for my seniors, whose average age is about 90. Imagine a procession of people slowly making their way around with their canes and walkers with smiles on their faces, singing popular Jewish songs from yesterday and today.
The fall Jewish holidays are coming to a conclusion. Jews have gone from the hopes and wishes of a sweet new year on Rosh Hashanah, to the Day of Atonement, the last chance to be sealed for a good year, to the joys of the holiday of Sukkot. On the last day of this festival season, it is most fitting to celebrate the completion and restarting of the study of the Five Books of Moses, the building block of Western civilization. The fall festivals are a time of renewal. Just like we look at a renewal of the New Year and a chance to start fresh, we also celebrate the renewed opportunity to start our studies anew.
Simchat Torah is the celebration of a verse from the final reading of the Torah cycle; “The Torah that Moses commanded us is the heritage of the Congregation of Jacob” (Deuteronomy 33:4). Jews believe the Torah is their heritage passed along through the generations. It is an inheritance that has been shared with the world throughout the past 2,000 years. Torah is an inheritance that has been the source of much struggle, but more so is also the heritage of joy for the Jewish people. In observing the joy of my residents celebrating with the ideas that have been handed down to them — and that they know they have perpetuated and handed to the generations after them — is something that me, a father of two young children, cherishes each year.
The heritage of the generations is a blessing I wish we all will continue to cherish. As the fall holiday season come to its conclusion, may we all continue to carry the joy of the holidays and the joy of seeing multiple generations in celebration together.