“…On the fifteenth day of this seventh month is the Festival of Sukkot, seven days for the L-rd… on the eigth day, there shall be a holy convocation for. ” Leviticus 23:34

Shemini Atzeret (שמיני עצרת – “the Eighth [day] of Assembly”): A jewish holiday celebrated on the 22nd day of the Hebrew month of Tishrei.  Shemini Atzeret is mistakenly referred to as the eighth day of the Festival of Sukkot, which occupies the seven preceding days.  In fact, Shemini Atzeret is a holiday (Yom Tov) unto itself. However, since it is a separate holiday, the usual rituals such as candle lighting, saying kiddush, refraining from work, attending special synagogue services, etc., are practiced.  The word atzeret comes from atzar, meaning to collect or to store.  Since Sukkot marks the end of the Fall Festivals, it is suggested that Shemini Atzeret is meant as a time to relfect on the previous two months of observance and to store their memories within our hearts.  In short, the holiday is more inwardly focused, though there are customs that help prepare for the coming day of Simchat Torah during the Ma’ariv (evening) service.  In addition, in Temple times during the week of Sukkot seventy bulls were sacrificed as Musaf offerings on the altar (for the seventy nations of the earth), but on Shemini Atzeret only one bull was sacrificed-for Israel alone:

There is no use of the Sukkah in Israel on Shemini Atzeret and the lulav and etrog are not waved. Rabbinic literature explains the holiday this way: our Creator is like a host, who invites us as visitors for a limited time, but when the time comes for us to leave, He has enjoyed himself so much that He asks us to stay another day. Another related explanation: Sukkot is a holiday intended for all of mankind, but when Sukkot is over, the Creator invites the Jewish people to stay for an extra day, for a more intimate celebration. However, one of Sukkot’s liturgical aliases זמן שמחתנו, “Time of Our Happiness,” continues to be used to describe Shemini Atzeret in prayers.  Since the Sukkah is no longer required, Jews ask for rain during the Geshem prayer, which is recited in a distinctive plaintive melody during the cantor’s repetition of the Musaf Amidah.  The Yizkor (remembrance) memorial service, prayers for those that have lost either one or both parents, is also recited this day.