Massive Jewish Celebration Around the World is the Ultimate Response to Growing Antisemitism

by Avi Abelow

We sing and dance and celebrate learning Torah!

Every 7.5 years Jews around the world get together to celebrate finishing learning the daily cycle of the Babylonian Talmud. The largest gathering takes place in MetLife Stadium in New York where 90,000+ Jews gathered there to celebrate Torah learning. This is the ultimate Jewish answer to growing antisemitism, celebrating the pinnacle of our existence, the Torah. Our message to our enemies is simple, no antisemitism will ever intimate us, we are the eternal people connected to the Torah, and no hatred or violence against us will ever break us.

Celebration in Jerusalem

The Daf Yomi, aka “page of the day”, is a daily learning program of the Talmud in which each of the 2,711 pages of the Babylonian Talmud is covered in sequence. Under this program, the entire Talmud is completed, one day at a time, in a cycle of seven and a half years.

Tens of thousands of Jews worldwide study in this daily Talmud learning program. The Daf Yomi program has been credited with making Talmud study accessible to Jews who of all levels, regardless of their background or existing Torah knowledge.

Just as Jews all around the world read the same Torah portion each and every week, the daf yomi program now allows for Jews in all parts of the world to study the same page of Talmud each day.

The daf Yomi concept was promoted by Rabbi Meir Shapiro, then Rabbi of Sanok, Poland, and future rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Chachmei Lublin on Elul 7 or 9, 5683 (August 19 or 21, 1923). Rabbi Shapiro viewed the program as a way to unify the Jewish people. As he explained back then to Agudas Yisrael Congress delegates:

What a great thing! A Jew travels by boat and takes gemara Berachot under his arm. He travels for 15 days from Eretz Yisrael to America, and each day he learns the daf. When he arrives in America, he enters a learning study in New York and finds Jews learning the very same daf that he studied on that day, and he gladly joins them. Another Jew leaves the States and travels to Brazil or Japan, and he first goes to the learning study, where he finds everyone learning the same daf that he himself learned that day. Could there be greater unity of hearts than this?

The first cycle of Daf Yomi commenced on the first day of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, 5684 (11 September 1923), with tens of thousands of Jews in Europe, America and Israel learning the first daf of the first tractate of the Talmud, Berachot

The 1st Siyum HaShas took place on 2 February 1931 (15 Shevat 5691) in several cities in Europe and in Jerusalem, with the main venue being the newly opened Yeshivas Chachmei Lublin in Lublin, Poland. Tens of thousands of Jews attended these events. Rabbi Shapiro presided over the Siyum in his yeshiva in the presence of many leaders of Polish Jewry.

Stuart Schnee The answer is not so much fighting anti-Semitism but celebrating being Jewish. Tonight in Jerusalem. #siyum

More than 90,000 Jews braved the cold at Met Life Stadium in New Jersey Wednesday to celebrate the historic completion of the study of the entire Talmud, sending a strong message of resilience days after a stabbing in a New York rabbi’s home left five people wounded.

The Siyum HaShas celebrates the study of the Talmud, which is said to be among the most challenging religious texts in the world. The book, comprised of 2,711 double-sides pages, takes seven-and-a-half years to complete, with one page read per day. Jewish communities across the globe eagerly anticipate and celebrate completing the study.

In addition to the 92,000 people who filled the seats at MetLife for this year’s event, 20,000 others gathered in Barclays Center in Brooklyn, along with thousands more at satellite locations across the U.S. and Israel.

The event drew a heavier security presence than in previous years due to the recent uptick in anti-Semitic crimes. Reportedly hundreds of state police officers, metal detectors and bomb-sniffing dogs were on-site in New Jersey.

“We are gathering to celebrate the Talmud because it is the source of our strength,” he said.

Rabbi Yissocher Frand, senior lecturer at Ner Yisroel in Baltimore, discussed the history of the religious book live at the event and offered words of empowerment to a reeling Jewish community.

What is the Celebration all About?

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