While I grew up in half Jewish and half christian home, we didn’t celebrate minor (not well known) Jewish holidays. Any way, Shemini Atzeret starts in the evening of September 27, and concludes after nightfall of September 29, 2021.
The holiday of Sukkot is followed by an independent holiday called Shemini Atzeret. In Israel, this is a one-day holiday; in the Diaspora it is a two-day holiday, and the second day is known as Simchat Torah. This holiday is characterized by utterly unbridled joy, which reaches its climax on Simchat Torah, when we celebrate the conclusion—and restart—of the annual Torah-reading cycle.
These two days constitute a major holiday (yom tov), when most forms of work are prohibited. On the preceding nights, women and girls light candles, reciting the appropriate blessings, and we enjoy nightly and daily festive meals, accompanied by kiddush. We don’t go to work, drive, write, or switch on or off electric devices. We are permitted to cook and to carry outdoors (unless it is also Shabbat).
How to Celebrate
Light a Yizkor Candle- a candle lit for 24 hours to honor the dead
Light Holiday candles and repeat the following:
Ba-ruch a-tah Ado-nai E-lo-hei-nu me-lech ha-olam asher ki-deshanu be-mitzvo-tav ve-tzi-vanu le-hadlik ner shel yom tov.
Blessed are You, L‑rd, our G‑d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and has commanded us to light the candle of the holiday.
[If Shemini Atzeret falls on a Friday night, substitute the above with the following blessing:
Ba-ruch a-tah Ado-nai E-lo-hei-nu me-lech ha-olam asher ki-deshanu be-mitzvo-tav ve-tzi-vanu le-hadlik ner shel shabbat v’shel yom tov.
Blessed are You, L‑rd, our G‑d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and has commanded us to light the candle of the Shabbat and the holiday.]
and you can make challah
- large bowl
- small bowl
- dough hook or whisk
- Cookie Sheet
- measuring cups
- measuring spoons
- 2.5 cups lukewarm water
- 1 packet of active yeast
- 1/2 cup honey
- 4 Tbsp oil canola or avacado
- 3 large eggs
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 8 cups AP flour unbleached is best
- Begin with activating the yeast with the warm water. Wait about 5-10 minutes
- Add the honey, oil, 2 eggs, and salt, beat it in well.
- Add flour one cup at a time, beating after each addition, switch to kneading with hands as dough thickens. Knead until smooth and elastic and no longer sticky, adding flour as needed
- Cover with a damp clean cloth and let rise for 1 1/2 hours or until dough has doubled
- turn the dough out onto floured board. Divide in half and knead each half for five minutes or so, adding flour as needed to keep from getting sticky. Divide each half into thirds and roll into long snake about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Pinch the ends of the three snakes together firmly and braid from middle. Either leave as braid or form into a round braided loaf by bringing ends together, curving braid into a circle, pinch ends together
- Grease two baking trays and place finished braid or round on each. Cover with towel and let rise about one hour
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees
- Beat the remaining egg and brush a generous amount over each braid. Sprinkle with poppy seeds or sesame seeds if desired.
- Bake 40 minutes. Bread should have a nice hollow sound when thumped on the bottom. Cool on a rack for at least one hour