Sunday, October 15, 2006

And There Was Much Rejoicing! The Second Hakafot

In the far reaches of the diaspora, like Walnut Creek, the festival of Shmini Atzeret at the end of Sukkot, where we complete the yearly reading of the Torah and begin againis a two-day festival. The second day is the festival is called Simchat Torah (Happiness of Torah,) during which all the Torah scrolls are removed from the ark and carried around the shul (synagogue) with dancing and singing. Each circuit around the shul is a hakafah, and there are seven total (although the dancing goes on for hours and hours and hours.)

Within the land of Israel, holidays are celebrated for only one day rather than two, so Simchat Torah and Shmini Atzeret are all crammed into one day. But in the evening, after the holiday officially ends, those of us in Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel) celebrate a "Second Hakafot," this time with live instrments and electronic music (which are forbidden on Shabbat and Holidays.)

In Pisgat Ze'ev, the town square is set aside. Below, the setup begins, with the stage, lighting, and Mechitzah (separation for men and women.)

Lest we forget that we live in the middle east, the ever-present security forces take up positions.

Meanwhile the band warms up, and the teenagers get excited.

A couple of soldiers guard the parking lot.

The music gets started, and people pour into the town square for dancing, waving flags and holding up Torah scrolls.

Cousin Rafi was the lead singer.

More Dancing.

For the first Hakafah, two representatives are called up to read Hakafot.

Meanwile, vendors show up with cotton candy and popcorn for the kids.

The dancing continues.

I bump into Shmulik, Rafi's brother (who I seem to bump into every day on the bus.)

Meanwhile, the dancing continues.

For the second Hakafah, Rabbi Shlomo Ish Ran, who happens to be Rafi's father, is called up to the stage (center.)

Rafi's brother in law, Yehudah (pronounced Yoodah) dances with a Sefer Torah.

Another Hakafah. This time, the honor is given to the chief of police and the security guards. Um.. guys, who'se guarding the entrance?

And the music continues...

... as does the dancing.

The crowd fills the square.

The Ish Ran boys: Yehudah, Rabbi Shlomo, Shmuelik.

And the band played on.

The final hakafah (I know, there were seven, but I skipped a few.) The boys from B'nei Akivah, the National Religious youth movement, run up to the stage.

Yet more dancing...

I bump into Yehuah in the crowd.

The party rocked on for four hours, ending at around midnight. Today, we all woke up and dragged our sore bodies back to work.

1 comment:

Yaakova said...

It must have been quite a party, since it's the first time you've actually smiled in your photos! You have a great smile; you should let it out more often!!
With all your well-established family members, it sure seems like you made the right choice to stay in Pisgat Zeev!