Simchat Torah is my favorite holiday and my heart breaks a little knowing that we could not think of a way to safely observe this special occasion. I cherish my memories of dancing, adult beverages, and even heckling Cantor Moshe. It seemed that almost anything was allowed in the joy of celebrating Torah.
One year I was with the Fox family. At the time they lived on Weatherly Drive on the LA/Beverly Hills border. One block away was an Orthodox synagogue. In fact, Arnold and Hannah Fox bought the house from the Rabbi Emeritus of the synagogue. We weren’t planning to celebrate Simchat Torah that year, but Simchat Torah came to us. Around sunset the whole block was closed to traffic and a while later a crowd poured out of the synagogue and into the street singing and dancing with their Torahs. Soon people came from all directions to join the celebration. Since our car was on that block, our plans of going home were delayed and we joined the celebration. The pure joy was palpable and grew in intensity well into the night. When we could finally get to our car, we headed home completely exhausted.
I will miss sharing that joy with you this year, but the joy is still there. I am thankful for our amazing community and am honored to be a part of it and I am thankful for Torah. I pray that next year we can celebrate together.
We are Temple Beth Hillel.
If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
If I am not for others, what am I?
And if not now, when? -Rabbi Hillel