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What is Shemini Atzeret? In Hebrew, it literally means the Eighth (Shemini) day of Assembly (Atzeret) — an eighth day of gathering and celebration that follows Sukkot. Both connected to Sukkot and a distinct holiday of its own, Shemini Atzeret exists to elevate the spiritual aspects of this seven day festival, among them our connection to the natural world. It is on this day that the traditional liturgy shifts to include prayers for rain, a reflection of our ancestors’ dependency on the often fickle weather patterns of the ancient Near East and a reminder of our own charged relationship to climate and the environment.

Shemini Atzeret is also a time to celebrate our interpersonal relationships. The Sages tell a parable of a ruler who invited their children home to the palace for a banquet. The feasting and celebration went on for seven days. When the time came for the children to leave, the ruler begged them to stay one more day. Just one more day! We all know that feeling — the feeling of not wanting to leave, of wanting more time with those we love. It is this longing that Jewish theology imagines God feels for us at the end of Sukkot, and it is this feeling that we seek to capture on Shemini Atzeret: One more day to revel in gratitude and wonder for the people around us, one more day to celebrate the blessings and abundance of the season.

Live not for battles won. Live not for the-end-of-the-song. Live in the along. — Gwendolyn Brooks

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On this, the eighth day of assembling during our time of joy, the light of Shabbat illuminates the gift of the present.

.‫ושֶל יו ֹם טו ֹב‬ ׁ ‫שבָּת‬ ַ ׁ ‫בָּרוּך ְ ַא ּתָה יְי ָ אֱלֹהֵינו ּ ֶמל ֶך ְ הָעוֹל ָם א ֲׁשֶר ִקד ּ ְׁשָנו ּ בְ ּ ִמצְוֹתָיו וְצִו ָּנו ּ ל ְ ַה ְדל ִיק נ ֵר ׁשֶל‬ ֶ ׁ ‫בָּרוּך ְ ַא ּתָה יְי ָ אֱלֹהֵינו ּ ֶמל ֶך ְ הָעוֹל ָם‬ .‫ש ֶהחֱי ָנו ּ וְקִי ְ ּמָנו ּ וְהִג ִּיעָנו ּ ל ִז ְ ּמַן הַז ֶּה‬ Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech ha’olam asher kidshanu b’mitzvotav vitzivanu l’hadlik ner shel Shabbat v’shel yom tov. Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech ha’olam shehecheyanu v’kiyamanu v’higianu laz’man hazeh.

Blessed is the Oneness that sanctifies our lives, and inspires us to kindle the light of Shabbat and this holy day. Blessed is the Oneness that inspires the universe, sustains us, raises us up, and enables us to reach this season.

No more than our place, no less than our space: when we manage that, we shine with the sun's own splendor. Remind us that we are cloaked in skin but made of light. — Rabbi Rachel Barenblat

This is a day of holy pausing. The Oneness that connects every living thing is saying: slow down and be. At the end of the High Holidays, an intense cycle of spiritual work, this is our time to just be with each other for one more day. — Adapted from the Netivot Shalom

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On this, the eighth day of assembling during our time of joy, we raise a glass to sanctify time and celebrate the natural world.

.‫בָּרוּך ְ ַא ּתָה יְי ָ אֱלֹהֵינו ּ ֶמל ֶך ְ הָעוֹל ָם בּוֹרֵא ּפְרִי הַג ָ ּפ ֶן‬ .‫ַשבָּת וְי ְִׂש ָראֵל וְהַז ְ ּמַנ ִּים‬ ַ ּ ׁ ‫בָּרוּך ְ ַא ּתָה יְי ָ ְמ ַקד ּ ֵׁש ה‬ Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech ha’olam borei p’ri ha’gafen. Baruch Atah Adonai mikadesh ha’Shabbat v’Yisrael v’ha’zmanim.

Blessed is the Oneness that creates the fruit of the vine. Blessed is the Oneness that sanctifies Shabbat, the Jewish people, and the festive seasons.

CRACKING JOY My joy is not Sunset. Serendipity. The tallest height Or the ripest tree. But rather, a presence that bursts forth from the emptiness. Unconcerned about the fill of my cup And committed to being a blessing that grows and pushes up through the cracks, every single day. — Devon Spier

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On this, the eighth day of assembling during our time of joy, we celebrate our origins — the people of our past who have shaped our present.

.‫ ַה ּמוֹצִיא לֶחֶם מִן ָה ָארֶץ‬,‫בָּרוּך ְ ַא ּתָה יְי ָ אֱלֹהֵינו ּ ֶמל ֶך ְ הָעוֹל ָם‬ Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu melech ha’olam ha’motzi lechem min ha’aretz.

Blessed is the Oneness that brings forth bread from the earth.

Shemini Atzeret includes one of the four annual recitations of the Yizkor (memorial) service. There’s a story in the Talmud in which a famous Rabbi orders 13 days of fasting to bring rain, but to no avail; it is the weeping of the congregation that finally causes the skies to open. Perhaps a parallel can be drawn between the power of rain to animate nature and the power of tears to evoke our memories. It is not an accident that tears also animate our memories of those who no longer walk in the world with us — the faces we loved, the hands we held, the safety and warmth we might have felt in their embrace, the feelings they generated in us. — Rabbi Deborah Silver, Introduction to Yizkor Shemini Atzeret 2016

As we break bread on this Shabbat Shemini Atzeret may we remember those who have shaped us but who are no longer with us, sharing their memories and giving voice to their names. PAGE 4 ONETABLE.ORG | @ONETABLESHABBAT


On this, the eighth day of assembling during our time of joy, we celebrate the possibility of the future.

.‫בְ ּרִיך ְ ָרחֲ ַמנ ָא ַמלְכ ָא ְדעַלְמָא ַמרֵיה ְדהַאי פ ִיתָא‬ Brich rachamana malka d’alma marei d’hai pita.

We are blessed with compassion by the Oneness that sustains us.

ָׁ ּ ‫ש ַא ּתָה הוּא יְי ָ אֱלהֵינו‬ .‫מ ׁ ַּשִיב הָרוּחַ וּמורִיד ַהג ֶׁשֶם‬ ‫ אמן‬.‫לִבְ ָרכ ָה ו ְלא ל ִ ְקלָל ָה‬ ‫ אמן‬.‫לְחַי ִּים ו ְלא ל ַ ָּמו ֶת‬ ‫ אמן‬.‫ל ְשובַע ו ְלא לְרָזון‬ From this Oneness the wind blows and the rain falls: For blessing and not for curse. Amen. For life and not for death. Amen. For plenty and not for lack. Amen. — From the Prayer for Rain, recited annually on Shemini Atzeret

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Shemini Atzeret | A OneTable Shabbat Dinner Guide  

WhIn Hebrew, Shemini Atzeret literally means the Eighth (Shemini) day of Assembly (Atzeret) — an eighth day of gathering and celebration tha...

Shemini Atzeret | A OneTable Shabbat Dinner Guide  

WhIn Hebrew, Shemini Atzeret literally means the Eighth (Shemini) day of Assembly (Atzeret) — an eighth day of gathering and celebration tha...

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