A crowd of mostly young Orthodox Jewish men and boys dance and sing at MetLife stadium in East Rutherford, NJ, Aug. 1, 2012, during the celebration Siyum HaShas. The Siyum HaShas, marks the completion of the Daf Yomi (AP File Photo)
A massive sold-out event took place New Year’s Day at East Rutherford, New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium where the reading of the entire Jewish Talmud was concluded after 7 and 1/3 years.
The Daf Yomi (meaning “a page a day”) is a program that allows people to read the entire Talmud, one page at a time, in 7 1/2 years. The program first began in September of 1923 in Poland. At the end of each cycle, there is a siyum or a concluding ceremony. The completion is considered a time of great joy for Jews.
The Siyum HaShas marks both the end of the previous cycle and the beginning of the next and is characterized by inspiring speeches and rousing singing and dancing.
In addition to the 92,000 people in the stadium, roughly 20,000 people watched from the Barclay Center in Los Angeles, California along with tens of thousands of people watching from satellite locations around the world.
Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, director of interfaith affairs at The Simon Wiesenthal Center, told CBN News that those who attend the event are celebrating the completion of a tremendous effort.
“The service of God has to be service. You do it because God wants you to do it. For many, religion is part of their quest for individual meaning and satisfaction. There are 350,000 people who are part of the Daf Yomi and are committed for 7 and 1/3 years. To say that you’re making it to the finish line is an enormous commitment,” he said.
Rabbi Adlerstein explained that Christians also commit to reading the Talmud because it’s a rewarding experience. After completing the program, participants start the cycle over again.
“They do the last lines of the last page in a prayer, then immediately they start the cycle over again…it’s endless. It’s the mind of God. You study it – you never get enough of it. People who serve God have to recognize or see the reflection of themselves in this project. You serve God because it’s the right thing – it’s why you are here.”
Many who attended the MetLife Stadium gathering shared videos and images of the event on social media.
92,000 #MeJew @MetLifeStadium say “Amen” during the #Kaddish in the unprecedented #SiyumHashas event to celebrate the completion of the seven and a half year cycle of reading all 2,711 pages of the #Talmud one day at a time #Siyum2020241:42 PM – Jan 1, 2020 · Brooklyn, NYTwitter Ads info and privacy See Gary Schlesinger’s other Tweets
For Jews who honor Torah study as a daily obligation, the publicity and excitement surrounding the Siyum HaShas have resulted in more participants, more Daf Yomi shiurim (lessons), and more Siyum locations with each cycle, according to Wikipedia. Since 1990, attendance at the main Siyum HaShas in America, organized by the Agudath Israel of America, has increased dramatically, necessitating the booking of larger arenas and stadiums.
The 12th Siyum HaShas on Aug. 1, 2012, featured a sell-out crowd of more than 90,000. Other celebrations that took place in the United States, Israel, Canada, Europe, and Australia also attracted hundreds of thousands.