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Simchat Torah holiday honors completion of a yearlong cycle of reading scrolls

The Slat Lake Tribune
Isaac Leider, of New York, wades through fetid water past his waist while trying to retreive 6 holy Torah scrolls from the Beth Israel Congregation temple in New Orleans which was still flooded with water.

Excerpt from a local FL news paper:

…Meanwhile, over at the Chabad Lubavitch celebration at Bais Menachem in Salt Lake’s Sugar House neighborhood, men tossed back shots of vodka and whiskey and sipped on bottles of Michelob Ultra. Drinking on Simchat Torah, while nowhere commanded and not a part of most Jewish celebrations, has become tradition in some circles – a part of the festivities.

“Oh, yeah. The rabbi is lit,” laughed Alysse Eisen Silk, as Rabbi Benny Zippel’s voice boomed from the men’s side of the room. In Orthodox Judaism, men and women are separated in synagogue sanctuaries and while dancing.

Some of the women cradled babies, socializing in corners. Israelis chatted away in Hebrew, exchanging laughs. Two older Russian women sat together, sharing observations in their native tongue.

As the singing and dancing heated up, and the night went on, most everyone stood from their seats to join in.

Among them was Silk’s 5-year-old daughter, Shayna (Yiddish for “beautiful”), who – despite being up well past her bedtime – could not sit still. She jumped around to the music, clutching in her arms a stuffed-toy Torah in bright colors of red, yellow and blue.

She danced and danced some more, following the crowd as it moved out into the main foyer and later outdoors. And even if little Shayna didn’t fully understand why she was doing what she was doing, the girl was enjoying her Judaism – celebrating what the Torah has given to her people, and what it will someday mean to her.