A lot of Jews out there are certainly "chagged out," tired of the barrage of religious holidays we just endured. Others bid a sad farewell. But allow me to put in my two cents about Simhat Torah and my hometown, for this short essay will also function as a brief sociological study.

I attended a borough-wide event on Erev Simhat Torah, designed to entice and bring together all types of Jews in an easily found, centrally located spot. Thus some youngish Jews organized "Simhat Torah Across Brooklyn," to be held at the northern part of Prospect Park, Brooklyn, New York's largest public park. The organizers brought in several congregations to be participants, and promised "rejoicing, singing, and dancing with our sacred scrolls as we go back to the beginning!" I read about this event on Facebook and elsewhere, and decided to attend after spending some time at my own synagogue's celebration.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


Fortunately for us New York City was blessed with pleasant, mild weather that evening (unlike unfortunate South Carolina which is enduring epic flooding) and I was very pleased to see well over 300 Jews energetically celebrating the holiday. The majority of people there were in the 20s and 30s but people of all ages were in attendance. People danced in several circles, from a handful of dancers to dozens. Jews were singing and shouting and clapping, or standing aside and admiring the scene. There were a few musicians, including a few guys on congas, two guitarists and a trumpeter.

What seemed most interesting to me was (1) the impressive number of people who didn't look highly observant, but who still felt the call and decided to join in a holiday celebration and (2) the spectrum of people present. But it should be this way: despite what some people might think, Brooklyn's Jews don't fall into merely one or two neat categories. We don't just have older, secular Jews who like bagels and kvetch about the weather, nor do we only have highly insular groups of Hasidim. We have Jews who span a wide variety of denominations. We have Jews who are Ashkenazic, Sephardic, and everything in between. We have Jews who represent a lot of different socio-economic attitudes. And many of them came together to celebrate Simhat Torah outdoors. Some just looked on but many others threw themselves into the music and movement.

There is something about Simhat Torah that can pull in all types of Jews, not just those who the "regular attendees." I know that in Manhattan, to our north, there are a few neighborhoods where hundreds of people also throng together for Simhat Torah. So I was particularly pleased that Brooklyn, aka Kings County (and also dubbed the borough of churches) had a centralized activity like this.

Relevant to your professional network? Please share on Linkedin
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official position or viewpoint of The Jerusalem Post. Blog authors are NOT employees, freelance or salaried, of The Jerusalem Post.

Think others should know about this? Please share