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Most shuls that I have attended change the parochet (ark "curtain"), shulchan (Torah reading table) and amud (chazzan's table) coverings and Torah coverings to white in honor of Rosh Hashanna and Yom Kippur.

However, the date for changing it back to the "regular" color seems to differ. I've seen some shuls change it back right after Yom Kippur is over (some point between Yom Kippur and Succot) while other leave the white on until after Simchat Torah.

Are there different minhagim? Are there specific groups that tend to follow one minhag over another? Why is there a difference / what's the source?

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    Hoshana Rabbah bears some connection to the Yamim Noraim, so perhaps that could explain those with the minhag to leave it up until after Sukkos. – DonielF Oct 16 '17 at 20:00
  • ldoovid hashem ori is recited through shemini atzeret.. – Naftali Tzvi Oct 16 '17 at 20:09
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    @NaftaliTzvi And how is that related to having white on the Aron until then? – DanF Oct 16 '17 at 21:16
  • @naftali that practice, in communities that follow it, has only been at all popular for 1-2 hundred years. The white styling is almost certainly older and more widespread – Double AA Oct 17 '17 at 2:40
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    Those shuls who have Chag-specific colors will change into Chag-mode between YK and Sukkoth. Find a Gabbai from Breuers for details. :-) – Danny Schoemann Oct 17 '17 at 12:16
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Rabbi David Golenkin writes here that he wasn't able to trace the custom eariler than the Sha'arei Efraim (c. 1820, by R' Ephraim Zalman Margolioth). A contemporary source here mentions that the custom varies from hanging the white parochet from Rosh Chodesh Elul to Rosh HaShana, and to taking it down from after Yom Kippur to after Hoshana Raba (or presumably also Simchat Torah). So it seems to be a) recent, b) not very well-defined, and c) mostly a matter of the gabbai's personal choice!

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I wouldn't call this a Minhag in the halachic sense of the word (TBD).

This is more like a shul operational procedure.

E.g.: The typical shul will use whatever Paroches they have, all year round.

Then somebody will donate a nicer one and they may use it for Shabbat, switching it weekly.

Then somebody (who knows that the we need a white one for the High Holiday, else the services are invalid, or at least defective) will donate a white one and they'll use it for the High Holidays.

If somebody then decides to donate a 4th one they may use it for Chag, removing the white one after Yom Kippour.

Older shuls often have a huge collection (like Breuers) and they will decide that one white one is for Rosh Hashana, one for Shabbat Shuva and one for Yom Kippour. The purple ones for Pessach. The nicer green one for first days Sukkoth, the others for Chol HaMoed, the old white one for Hoshana Rabba, and the colorful one for Simchas Torah, etc.

As a new Paroches is donated, the rules change.

Similarly, which lights and chandeliers get lit when (weekdays, Shabbat, Rosh Chodesh, etc.) is more of a procedure than a Minhag. Ditto for which Silver Torah Ornaments to use when.

After many years, the kids notice a fixed pattern and are convinced it Sinaic, or at least an ancient Minhag. When they grow up they then teach their kids the significance of this Minhag and they wonder why other shuls don't follow their Paroches-Lighting-Silver Minhag - and of course they will donate the missing ones to their favorite shul.

But I think it remains a simple Shul Operation Procedure.

So, back to your question: When to change the white look? that depends on the size and colors of your Paroches collection, and the procedures the Gabbai/Shamash/Busybody who does the switching has in his head, aka (mistakenly) the local Minhag.

Source: This user's experience who grew up with these very important Minhagim and has been inventing these Minhagim locally for over 20 years as our shul grows, matures and gets wealthier.

  • B"H your shul is getting wealthier! That's a slightly different take from many shuls in the U.S., and mine, in particular. Can you clarify what you mean by "inventing" minhagim? Usually, minhagim are "inherited". – DanF Aug 28 '18 at 14:40
  • @DanF - We started with a non-existent shul (in a caravan) with a diverse crowd, so we made it up as we went along. (Including keeping the peace between various people who had inherited disparate Minhagim.) – Danny Schoemann Aug 28 '18 at 14:49
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    Good work. Either you or Hashem gave you a nes in that you were able to resolve shul minhag conflicts. For some weird reason, I've found that shul politics can seem as "mean" as government politics. I know why, but I never quite understand why. – DanF Aug 28 '18 at 18:00

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