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The Feast of the Rejoicing of the Law at the Synagogue in Leghorn, Italy

Solomon Alexander Hart (British, 1806-1881)

The Feast of the Rejoicing of the Law at the Synagogue in Leghorn, Italy, 1850

  • Oil on canvas
  • 55 5/8 x 68 3/4 in. (141.3 x 174.6 cm)
  • The Jewish Museum, New York
  • Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Gruss, JM 28-55

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The Feast of the Rejoicing of the Law at the Synagogue in Leghorn, Italy

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The Feast of the Rejoicing of the Law at the Synagogue in Leghorn, Italy

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Every Sabbath, a portion of the Torah is chanted in the synagogue. It takes a year to complete the entire cycle. On Simchat Torah, which falls immediately after Sukkot, congregants reach the end of Deuteronomy and start the reading over again from the beginning of Genesis.

The completion and restarting of this cycle is an opportunity for celebration. Simchat Torah literally means "Rejoicing with the Torah." On this day, all of the Torah scrolls are removed from the ark and amid festive singing and dancing are paraded around the synagogue in their ornaments. Children often join in the processions with flags or miniature scrolls. As the final chapters of the Pentateuch are chanted and a new cycle begins, it is customary to give everyone an aliyah--an invitation to ascend the bimah and recite the blessings over the Torah reading.