SHEMINI ATZERET (16 October)
At the conclusion of the festival of Sukkot there are two holidays, Shemini Atzeret and Simhat Torah. Shemini Atzeret, the “assembly of the eighth day,” is celebrated at the end of Sukkot (after the seventh day.) In Israel, and for Liberal Jews, these are celebrated on the same day. For other Jews throughout the diaspora (where holidays are observed over two days) Simchat Torah is celebrated on the second day of Shemini Atzeret.
A Rabbinic midrash says that God desired one more day of intimacy with Israel and said to them, “Your departure is difficult for me. Stay with me one more day.” Shemini Atzeret is not a part of Sukkot but a separate holiday in it's own right.
On Shemini Atzeret the prayer for rain, teffilat geshem, is inserted in the second blessing of the Amidah prayer, replacing the prayer for dew recited since the beginning of Passover.
SIMCHAT TORAH (17 October)
Simchat Torah—the “Time of Rejoicing in the Torah,” follows Shemini Atzeret. It is a time of celebration when the liturgical reading cycle of the Torah comes to an end and a new cycle begins again (with Genesis 1:1, Parashat Bereshit).
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