Simchat Torah just for the men??

From the mailbag:

Dear In the Pink Lady,

I am the biggest kvetch on simchas torah.  I do not enjoy watching the men dance and the ladies shmooze about the latest styles or shaitels.  I feel simchas torah is a man’s holiday..seems they have all the fun and we get to just stand and watch..I go through this every year!  do you enjoy this holiday, how can I change my attitude towards this yom tov?

A loyal reader

I do enjoy watching my boys dance, and this year will especially enjoy watching the KoD dance with them, but it is indeed very hard to sit there and watch seven Hakafot without participating at all. I will probably watch one or two, then go home and curl up with a good book. Some shuls I have been at do have Hakafot (dances) for the women, and some have included dancing with the sefer torah, but that’s not what’s done in my neck of the woods.

Readers – do any of you have any advice or words of wisdom?

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  1. Frayda says:

    Thanks for answering this question. I was thinking about this same issue tonight and I love your answer.

  2. shorty says:

    last year we had an amazing women’s program – women were invited to give a 1-2 min chat on one of the torah portions. the woman who organized it, gave each women the parashah, and over the next couple of hours we inspired each other. for some reason, they didn’t do it again this year, which is too bad.

  3. Dov Kramer says:

    >>I will probably watch one or two, then go home and curl up with a good book. <<

    I actually do s/t similar, or at least did until my kids became old enough that they want me to dance with them: I go around once/hakafa, then open a sefer for the rest of the hakafa.

    But that's not the issue you want discussed. I'm not sure why dancing at weddings is okay for both genders, but frowned upon in some circles on Simchas Torah.

  4. Risa says:

    At my shul in Rehovot we clear a space in the women’s section and dance too. At just about every hakafa the gabbai passes us a sefer torah and we pass it around and dance with it. But the part I like best is when they are reading and rereading so that everyone (no, make that every man) gets an aliya, we go off and give divrei Torah to the women. For many of us it is the first time we have gotten up and given a Dvar Torah and it helps us own our celebration of the Joy of Torah (Simchat Torah).
    Isramom: Simchat Tora Review

  5. saramaimon says:

    Email me superwoman@ttec.com I may have a women’s torah reading you can go.

    • sara maimon says:

      As for me, I don’t participate at this holiday unless I’m asked to read.
      Way back when I was a Monsey girl, simchas torah was one of the most degrading events of my life.
      At the time I would have given anything to be included…
      A lifetime later, I don’t really care about dancing. All the dancing in the world with that scroll, won’t change what’s written in it.

  6. Answer to question in title: Yes.

  7. thdpr says:

    Risa – that sounds awesome! And Shorty, that is too cool.

    Here in Jerusalem there are a lot of options for dancing and singing for women. However, at home it’s harder. In Denver we do a lot of women’s programs ourselves because there isn’t much out there.

    When my father had his own reform congregation (tatti’s a rabbi, now post denominational – http://www.rockymountainhai.com), he would unroll the whole Torah for us to see, obviously men and women together. We would hold the Torah unrolled in the shul and he would go through the Torah, showing us each portion and teaching us about it. Very meaningful and since I grew up like that I didn’t realize there was such a ‘male’ component to it! :)

    Make your own fun, my mother always told me. :)

  8. Media Naranja says:

    At every Reform/Conservative/Reconstructionist shul I’ve been to men and women dance with the scrolls. I also went to one Orthodox synagogue in NYC where the women danced with the Torah scrolls. Orthodox ladies who read this blog–if there are mechitzas set up on Simchat Torah (which I imagine that there are) why not start dancing? Is there something immodest about dancing even if you are behind a mechitza? It would be hard for me to not participate somehow in a Simchat Torah celebration, even if it was in a different way than the men, because the Torah was given to all of us, no?

  9. Batya says:

    We dance separately in our dati shul.

  10. Susan says:

    It’s not just for men. Women may dance with the sefer torah, and should.

  11. Z! says:

    although the evening Hakafos weren’t very special to me this year, the day ones were incredible.
    My hubby and I ran off last minute to Israel. We davened with friends at Rav Kahanah’s Shul in the Arab quarter. We, with an armed excort, danced and sang the sefer torah all the way through the Arab shuk to the Kotel. In front of Cotton Alley- one of the roads to the Har Habyis- we met up with two other shuls and held up the shuk dancing and singing Am Yisroel Chai for at least half an hour. It was really an incredible experience.

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