Westchester Jewish Center

Having an Aliyah

Reading the Torah
Being called to the Torah for an aliyah is an honor. On Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturday evenings, there are three aliyot. On Shabbat, there are seven. On Rosh Hodesh, there are four aliyot, on holidays, five and Yom Kippur, six. The first aliyah is given to a Kohein, the tribe of priests; the second goes to a Levi, the tribe that assisted the priests. The rest of the aliyot may be given to anyone over bar/bat mitzvah age. Many important milestones are typically marked by an aliyah including bar/bat mitzvah, observing a yarzheit (anniversary of a death of a parent), birth of a baby, thanksgiving for recovery from an illness or accident. The maftir aliyah (the Torah reading that corresponds to the last few verses of the parsha) is given to the individual who will next chant the haftarah.

When you have an aliyah at WJC:

  1. You will be asked to come up at the aliyah preceding your aliyah and take a seat on the bimah next to the Rabbi or Cantor.
  2. For your aliyah, please give your Hebrew name to the gabbai (A gabbai is a lay person who performs various duties in connection with Torah readings including standing next to the Torah reader (baal korei) checking the reader's pronunciation and chanting).
  3. After being summoned by your Hebrew name, you will use the tzizit on your tallis or the Torah binder to kiss the Torah at the word where the reading continues (the reader will show you where) and recite the blessing. There is a sheet with both Hebrew and transliteration of the blessing (in large print) on the reading table. See below to open a .pdf of the Hebrew, English and Transliteration of the blessing before the Torah reading.
  4. After the reading is completed, you will once again kiss the Torah, this time where the reading ended, and recite the additional blessing. See below to open a .pdf of Hebrew, English and Transliteration of the blessing afer the Torah reading. 
  5. Please remain at the at the reading table through the next aliyah before returning to your seat. It is typical to receive extended hands as you return, with people saying Yasher Koach (may you go from strength). The appropriate reply is Baruch ti’he’yeh (may you be blessed) although thank you is also appropriate. 

Blessings before and after the Torah reading