Today, we are closed for Shemini Atzeret, the "assembly of the eighth" day. It is perhaps best explained as a sort of residual celebration reserved for those of Jewish faith following the conclusion of Sukkot (a holiday intended for all peoples). The day after Shemini Atzeret is known as Simchat Torah, the "rejoicing of the Torah".
Throughout the year, a few chapters from the Torah are read at synagogue each week. Beginning with Genesis I and closing with Deutoronomy 34, the final chapters of the year culminate on Simchat Torah. The cycle is immediately begun again (with Genesis I) as a reminder that the Torah is a never-ending circle.
An image of the Torah.
Simchat Torah is a time of great celebration. There are processions of the Torah around the synagogue, as well as much singing, dancing, and drinking. Like any good holiday, work is not permitted.
You know, a person could really get used to all of these three day holiday weekends.
(Don't worry--we'll be back on Sunday.)