Shemini Atzeret

Shemini Atzeret
Official name

שְׁמִינִי עֲצֶֽרֶת

Translation: "The eighth [day] of Assembly"
Observed by Judaism, Samaritanism and Jews, Samaritans
Type Jewish, Samaritan
Celebrations Prayer for rain; includes the celebration of Simchat Torah
Date 22nd day of Tishrei [1]
2016 date 23 October (at sundown). Karaite: same
2017 date 11 October (at sundown). Karaite: pending observation of aviv and new moon [2]
Related to Culmination of Sukkot (Tabernacles)

Shemini Atzeret (שְׁמִינִי עֲצֶרֶת – "Eighth [day of] Assembly"; Sefardic/Israeli pron. shemini atzèret; Ashkenazic pron. shmini-atsères) is a Jewish holiday. It is celebrated on the 22nd day of the Hebrew month of Tishrei in the Land of Israel, [1] and on the 22nd and 23rd outside the Land, usually coinciding with late September or early October. It directly follows the Jewish festival of Sukkot which is celebrated for seven days, and thus Shemini Atzeret is literally the eighth day. It is a separate—yet connected—holy day devoted to the spiritual aspects of the festival of Sukkot. Part of its duality as a holy day is that it is simultaneously considered to be both connected to Sukkot and also a separate festival in its own right. [3]

Outside the Land of Israel, this is further complicated by the additional day added to all Biblical holidays except Yom Kippur. [4] The first day of Shemini Atzeret therefore coincides with the eighth day of Sukkot outside the Land of Israel, leading to sometimes involved analysis as to which practices of each holiday are to apply.

The celebration of Simchat Torah is the most distinctive feature of the holiday, but it is a later rabbinical innovation. In the Land of Israel, the celebrations of Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah are combined on a single day, and the names are used interchangeably. In the Diaspora, the celebration of Simchat Torah is deferred to the second day of the holiday. Commonly, only the first day is referred to as Shemini Atzeret, while the second is called Simchat Torah. [5]

Karaite Jews and Samaritans also observe Shemini Atzeret, as they do all Biblical holidays. However, it may occur on a different day from the conventional Jewish celebration, due to differences in calendar calculations. Karaites and Samaritans do not include the rabbinical innovation of Simchat Torah in their observance of the day; and do not observe a second day (of any holiday) in the Diaspora.

Biblical origins

According to the Jewish Encyclopedia, [6] atzeret (or aẓeret) is the name given to it in Leviticus 23:36; Numbers 29:35; Nehemiah 8:18; 2Chronicles 7:9. It is not mentioned in Deuteronomy 16, and is found only in those parts of the Bible known as the Priestly Code. Like atzarah (Amos 5:21; Isaiah 1:13; Joel 1:14), atzeret denotes "day of assembly", from atzar = "to hold back" or "keep in"; hence also the name atzeret given to the seventh day of Pesaḥ (Deuteronomy 16:8). Owing, however, to the fact that both Shemini Atzeret and the seventh day of Pesaḥ are described as atzeret, the name was taken to mean "the closing festival". [6]

Other Languages
Alemannisch: Schmini Azeret
čeština: Šmini aceret
español: Shemini Atzeret
français: Chemini Atseret
norsk nynorsk: Sjeminí ‘aṣéret
português: Shemini Atzeret
русский: Шмини Ацерет
Simple English: Shemini Atzeret
ייִדיש: שמיני עצרת