We have just finished a marathon month of Chaggim. It has been prayer after prayer, meal after meal for close to four weeks. The month of festivals has many highlights (Rosh Hashana night with family, the closing Neilah service on Yom Kippur, sitting in the sukkah with friends) and a few low lights (endless cooking, and what seemed like endless fasting), but the highlight of this month, for me at least, happens on Simchat Torah.

The day is usually quite a ‘balagan’ and the service seems to go on forever as everyone in shule must get an Aliyah on that day. There are different laining stations set up all over the place, kids are running here and there, people are working in the kitchen to set up the community lunch and there is talk and laughter abound.

And then the call comes out for all the children under bar and bat mitzvah to come into shule. They are gathered under a tallit, the brachot for the Torah is said and the adults stand and witness what must be the most beautiful ceremony of our tradition. We watch as our children, our most precious treasures, are called to the Torah, surrounded by the village of adults who love and care for them who then break out in song and blessing:

“May the angel who redeems me from all evil bless these children…..”

This moment is the culmination of all the work, sweat and tears that has gone into not just the last month, but into the years of these children’s lives. We sing, grateful for our blessings that are our children, reaping the nachas of our efforts that bear fruit in our precious offspring. It is a moment of joy, a moment of clarity.

In the weeks ahead we will enjoy more moments like these, as we watch our Year 12 children, who have grown into adults, leave the Carmel nest.

This week they completed their mock exams and I’m sure they too felt the feeling of serenity that engulfs when realising that all the effort has been worth it. And next week their parents will too sit in the nachas pews of Valedictory basking in the warmth of the light that comes at the end of the tunnel.

May the weeks, and indeed the years ahead, bring us all these delicious moments of wonder and delight from our children just as they did on Simchat Torah, a day of pure happiness.

Shabbat Shalom,