The second round of dancing with the Torah – that which takes place on the night after the conclusion of Simchat Torah in Israel – is conducted in solidarity with Jewish brethren in the Diaspora and features top Jewish singers and live bands across the country.
In Kfar Chabad, the central town of the Chabad-Lubavitch Hassidic community in Israel, the celebration was particularly joyous and packed with wall-to-wall people dancing with and without Torah scrolls as a live band accompanied vocalist Nemuel Harush, who sang — and danced — endlessly through the night on stage, leading the packed hall through each of seven blessings of Torah, each of which received its own intricate collection of music, lyrics and dance.
Harush even managed to sing — and sing well — through the process of being lifted on to the shoulders of a medic from Magen David Adom, and through the process of that medic then being lifted on to the shoulders of another dancer as well. Such is the survival skill of a Chabad-Lubavitch vocalist on a Simchat Torah hakafot shniyot night.
The celebration was streamed live on the internet via YouTube by COL (ChabadOnline) and broadcast live on Israeli radio by Radio Kol Chai.
The top echelon of the Israeli political world was right there with them, beginning with Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, who was soon joined by Knesset member Yoel Hasson, both embracing a holy Torah scroll as they danced.
Barkat told the crowd that his father’s name is “Zalmen,” and spoke of his “Lubavitch roots.”
Shortly after, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel, newly-elected Jewish Agency executive director Isaac Herzog and Knesset member Oren Hazen all arrived as well – each receiving a Torah with which to join the crowd of dancers as well. Hazen also learned in Kfar Chabad.
Former Shas Sephardic party chairman Rabbi Eli Yishai also arrived and was handed a Torah scroll with which to dance. Even Israel Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh was seen dancing with a Torah scroll, after delivering a brief word of Torah.
Herzog related to the crowd his experiences growing up in school among the children in Kfar Chabad, and having met and received a brocha from the Lubavitcher Rebbe zt’l. He asked the crowd “first, next and last” to simply keep the commandment of “love thy neighbor” – “Ahavat Yisrael, Ahavat Yisrael, Ahavat Yisrael.”