Shabat Shalom and Chag Sameach, jblogosphites.
I grew up with one-day chag, that being the usual Reform custom. I maintain that custom with intellectual back-up from BZ. Because I only grew up with one day of chag, I grew up with Simchat Torah, but no Shemini Atzeret. BZ again:
Shemini Atzeret is the only yom tov that has no special mitzvot […] beyond the mitzvot that apply to all festivals
[…] Therefore, to save Shemini Atzeret […] some Babylonian Jews decided to make this the time when the annual cycle of Torah reading was finished and restarted. Thus, they created the ritual of Simchat Torah. This ritual was created for the holiday of Shemini Atzeret, specifically the second day thereof (since these Babylonian Jews observed two days); it is observed on the single day of Shemini Atzeret in communities that observe one day. There is no holiday of Simchat Torah separate from Shemini Atzeret […]
With this added ritual, the second day of Shemini Atzeret has, of course, become much more popular than the first. Lots of people observe only the second day (which is d’rabbanan) and not the first day (which is d’oraita). Some communities that generally observe one day of yom tov still have their Simchat Torah celebration on the night of the 23rd of Tishrei (i.e. the night that others consider the 2nd night of Shemini Atzeret), to blend in or something.
What I’m pretty sure I grew up with at Beth Israel in Austin is was what BZ is describing. At CBI, we observed one day of chag, in this case Simchat Torah and not Shemini Atzeret. I’m not sure whether we did it on Tishrei 22 or 23. What I’d like to do at this point in my life is to observe the ritual of Simchat Torah on Shemini Atzeret, as it seems BZ wishes to do as well in the post that the above quotes are from.
To do this, I’d have to find what I imagine is a Reform community doing what I’m suggesting. I assume that non-Reform communities would do both days, waiting until the 23rd for Simchat Torah. So I assumed I’d just observe my one day of chag on the 23rd. I decided to look into three places where I thought I might go tomorrow for Simchat Torah–B’nai Jeshurun, Kehilat Hadar and the Kane Street Synagogue.
BJ and KH both had what I was expecting from them, but KSS is advertising on their website that Simchat Torah is today, the 22nd or Tishrei! This is surprising because KSS is Conservative-affiliated and the Conservative movement does not, as far as I know, advocate only one day of chag.
It’s confusing. And I still haven’t made up my mind about where to go tomorrow.