Preparations Begin for Largest Gathering of Jews Since Second Beit Hamikdash - The Jewish Voice
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Preparations Begin for Largest Gathering of Jews Since Second Beit Hamikdash

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Scenes from the 11th Siyum HaShas, March 1, 2005Just four months remain until to the Twelfth Siyum Hashas of Daf Yomi – but who’s counting?

Who’s counting are the tens of thousands of participants in the worldwide Daf Yomi program who will be marking the culmination of a seven-and-a-half year journey through Talmud at the upcoming mega-celebration.

The primary North American event, which is being organized and coordinated by Agudath Israel of America, is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, August 1 (13 Av) at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. With over 90,000 seats, the recently constructed stadium is by far the largest single venue ever to host the national Torah celebration.

The Daf Yomi program was introduced in 1923 by Rabbi Meir Shapiro, the famed rabbi of Lublin, at the First Great Assembly of Agudath Israel in Vienna. His objective was to enhance the sense of achdut (unity) among Jews worldwide by having them learn the same daf (two-sided page) of the Talmud on the very same day. By Rabbi Shapiro’s calculations, this uninterrupted regimen would enable even the simplest working Jew to complete the entire Talmud in just over seven years.

Thanks in large part to the efforts of Agudath Israel and its Daf Yomi Commission, the Daf Yomi movement has flourished over the decades – a fact reflected not only by the many thousands who now learn the daf each day, but also by the size of each succeeding Siyum celebration. In North America, the primary events have grown from a gathering of several hundred in 1960 to a mammoth gathering in 2005 that necessitated the booking of three separate enormous venues – the main arena at Madison Square Garden, New York’s Jacob Javits Center, and the Continental Airlines Arena in New Jersey. Like Daf Yomi itself, the Siyum celebrations draw Torah observant Jews of every background – from Litvish to Chassidic to Sephardic, from kollel students to physicians to lawyers to businessmen.

 “After the Eleventh Siyum HaShas in 2005, we were determined to find an arena large enough to accommodate all the celebrants at the next Siyum,” says Rabbi Shlomo Gertzulin, Agudath Israel executive vice president for finance and administration and chief operating officer of the Twelfth Siyum HaShas. “And judging by the dramatic increase in Daf Yomi participation that followed each past celebration, we knew the twelfth Siyum would require a really enormous venue. So we are extremely fortunate and grateful to be able to host Klal Yisroel’s upcoming simcha at MetLife Stadium.”
In addition to its size, the new Siyum location has the advantage of being easily accessed from anywhere in the tri-state area and along the eastern seaboard. The stadium is also close to Newark’s Liberty Airport — good news for the thousands of participants who are expected to fly in for the celebration.

While the prospect of filling 90,000 seats would give most event planners pause, the Siyum organizers are unfazed. Since tickets became available back in mid-February, says Rabbi Gertzulin, seats – even entire blocks of seats – have been selling at a brisk pace.

“This is no ordinary event,” observes well-known philanthropist and Siyum Hashas chairman Elly Kleinman. “A ticket to the Siyum is nothing less than a ticket to history in the making. Not only will the Siyum unite Jews in numbers not seen since before the destruction of the Second Temple, it will further fuel the explosive spread of Daf Yomi study, in particular, and Torah learning, in general, throughout the world.”

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