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Sukkot Draws To A Close Amidst More Celebration

The week-long holiday of Sukkot ends tonight and tomorrow with the day known, in Israel, as Shmini Atzeret/Simchat Torah.
First Publish: 10/17/2003, 4:25 PM

The day is marked by "Hakafot" - joyous dancing and singing with Torah scrolls as an expression of the Jewish people's happiness at having received the Torah and the opportunity to study it and be governed by its lessons.

"Hakafot Shniyot" (Second Hakafot) celebrations throughout the country tomorrow night will mark the conclusion of the holiday. This is a relatively modern tradition, indicating Israel's solidarity with the Jews of the Diaspora - who observe their Hakafot on Saturday night and Sunday, a day later than in Israel. Music bands and public figures take part in the Hakafot Shniyot celebrations, which are of a more public and communal nature than the "regular" Hakafot.

In other Sukkot news, police estimate that well over 400,000 people will have frequented the Western Wall by the end of the holiday - a record amount. Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, Western Wall Rabbi, expressed his satisfaction: "These are people who feel a deep connection with Jewish culture and tradition in general, and with the Jewish People's holiest place in particular - a remnant of the days in which the glory of the Jews who ascended to Jerusalem on the holidays flooded the holy city." Among the visitors was Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, the venerated Torah sage who recently recovered from a serious illness and who arrived at the Wall daily to recite the blessing over the Four Species.