What is Shemini Atzeret?

Not quite Sukkot, not quite its own holiday.

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And finally, the special prayer for rain (Geshem) is added to the repetition of Musaf and thus begins the period of an additional call for rain in our prayers, which lasts until Passover. It is customary for the leader of the Geshem prayer to wear a kitel as was done during the divine judgment of the High Holidays. Wearing the garment indicates that this is the season of divine judgment for the future year's rainfall, the time when we pray that God's goodwill may afford us the appropriate amount.

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Rabbi Paul Steinberg

Paul Steinberg is a rabbi at Valley Beth Shalom in Encino, California and is the Head of the Etz Chaim Hebrew School. He previously served as the Rabbi and Director of Jewish Studies and Hebrew at Levine Academy: A Solomon Schechter School in Dallas, Texas.