To dance in celebration of the Torah, and then to dance again: the People of Israel were out in force Monday night for Second Hakafot. Israelis danced at locations all around the country to join together with Jews in the diaspora who had only just begun to observe the Simchat Torah holiday.
The "Second Hakafot" event marks the conclusion of the holiday of Simchat Torah and Sukkot in Israel, and is a tradition that is held to show solidarity with Jews in the diaspora, who celebrate two days of the holiday, with Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah observed as two separate holidays. The two are celebrated as one in the Holy Land. It is also an opportunity to dance to the sounds of musical instruments, forbidden on the holiday itself.
In Jerusalem celebrations were held all over the city. Thousands participated in the Second Hakafot at Liberty Bell Park, led by the Israel's Chief Rabbis, Rabbi Yona Metzger and Rishon LeZion Rabbi Shlomo Amar, and with President Shimon Peres as a special guest. The main event was sponsored for the 31st time by philanthropist Eugen Gluck, a New York-based Holocaust survivor who supports many projects in Israel, including the Talmudic Garden in Beit El.
Similar observances were held in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square and by the budding Torah community in Jaffa (Yafo) in Kfar Chabad as well as elsewhere around the country. In the northern Negev community of Arad, numerous diverse synagogue groups sent representatives to take the stage and lead the joyous dancing in the city's Kiryat HaOmanim.
In Samaria (Shomron), Second Hakafot took place in the Jewish communities of Yakir and Shaarei Tikvah, as well as in the community of Givat Assaf - whose continued existence is threatened by the Supreme Court - next to the town of Beit El, and elsewhere.