Monday, Jun 10, 2024

Hundreds of Thousands Celebrate the 13th Siyum Hashas of Daf Yomi

“Please send information about daf hayomi,” pleads a letter to the editor in a 1982 edition of the now-defunct Jewish Observer, the truncated sentences apparently the result of it being sent via telegram. “Want to study Torah, but live in North Carolina. Can this be done by correspondence???” The letter was signed, “Chaim Tevye Cholmetsky, Raleigh, No. Carolina.”

At the 13th Siyum Hashas according to the daf yomi schedule last week Wednesday, four decades after that memo was written, Chaim Tevye Cholmetsky would hardly have a hard time getting a shiur. An estimated 50,000 people from virtually every state celebrated the learning of the 2,711th daf, some for the first time, others for the seventh. Double that number rejoiced with the mesaymim, most in the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey’s Bergen County, with a spillover to Brooklyn’s Barclay’s Center.

Thousands more joined in at live video hookups at over 100 locations across North and South America, as well as Europe and Eretz Yisroel—an estimated million people altogether. Proceedings were translated into five languages and speakers constituted the arc of the community. The achievement marks a milestone for Jewish life in the US—the largest gathering for kvod haTorah in history.

Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Londinski of Lakewood was sitting near the dais before the program began, coming to the Siyum Hashas for his fourth time. A grandson of Rav Moshe Londinski, the rosh yeshiva of Radin under the Chofetz Chaim, he was not making a siyum, but came specifically “to see such an oilam!” he said. “I thank the Eibishter that we are able to get together and have this simcha.”

Naftoli Davidowitz, who assists with distributing the divrei Torah of Rav Avigdor Miller, was walking around the stage area. Asked what the highlight of the day would be to him, he cited a familiar name.

“Rav Avigdor Miller said that when even 10 Yidden get together, it’s a wonderful thing,” Davidowitz said, his voice taking on the famed singsong lilt of the baal hashmuah. “That creates a minyan and you’re able to say ‘amen yehei shmei rabba.’ Imagine 90,000 people screaming out ‘amen yehei shmei rabba’—what could be a greater kiddush Hashem than this?”

Event Was Meticulously Planned

Planning for the event began at the last siyum, when the date of Jan. 1, 2020, was called out at the conclusion by Agudah’s Shlomo Gertzulin— “no matter the weather!” The weather was indeed cold, with nearly 90,000 people braving temperatures with a real feel in the low 30s to attend, and most stayed for the entire program. The Barclay’s Center program was indoors.

Organizers distributed a bag containing hand, toe and body warmers, along with the three official siyum publications. Hasiyum was edited by Rabbi Yitzchok Hisiger, Nshei Hasiyum by Victoria Dwek, and Hasiyum Junior by Shrage Goldschmidt.

Law enforcement left nothing to chance with security. Along with the septennial inspiration for the Jews comes the inevitable security headache, especially for the New Jersey State Police, who led the effort to keep the location safe. Dozens of security agencies, from the FBI and the local East Rutherford beat cops to the New York State Police and the NYPD, operated together. A team of former Israeli soldiers was brought in to detect suspicious activity. FBI agents monitored social media posts for any threats related to the siyum.

If you came to MetLife from virtually anywhere, there were watchful eyes trained on you. Police helicopters buzzed overhead, with armored Bobcats and a Medevac copter on standby as a safety precaution. Police cars were situated along the roads from every major Jewish population area from which people would be coming. Canine units sniffed around. A series of command posts ringed the area, with the nearby Secaucus train station having its own command center manned by dozens of cops.

To keep traffic to the stadium flowing, transportation officials has all cash-lane toll booths leading to MetLife fully staffed, despite it being New Year’s Day. GPS tracking “pods” were placed on roads for miles around so assistance could be rendered in real time in the event of a slowdown.

Hatzolah sent about 75 members, with hundreds of others on standby, spread out in the giant stadium. A Hatzolah sources said that over 100 people were treated at the event, mostly for hyperthermia. They also handled the few reports of children searching for their parents. Most of their calls were treated on scene, with only three of them requiring hospitalization.

Daf Yomi Gains Thousands of New Participants

The daf yomi program has exploded in popularity over the past few decades, with about 2,000 shiurim around the world and 1,068 in the United States, estimated Rabbi Avrohom Nisan Perl, director of Agudah’s Commission on Torah Projects. This, he added, does not include those learning by themselves or with chavrusos.

“An informal survey that we took two years ago,” Rabbi Perl said, “is something that changed dramatically in the last few years. We found that chavrusashafts and people learning on their own to be a much more widespread phenomenon than it was 15, 20 years ago.”

The earliest shiur in the world takes place at 4:00 a.m. in Boro Park’s Sfardishe shul, while the latest is a post-chatzos shiur at the Kosel. People are much more likely to be participating via video broadcast or online shiurim than ever before.

The daf yomi program was instituted by Rav Meir Shapiro at the 1923 Knessiah Gedolah, made famous several years ago when a video was discovered of it, with such luminaries as the Chofetz Chaim and Rav Yisroel of Chorktov in it.

Every Siyum Hashas inspires thousands more to join the program. Rabbi Perl says he expects that 25,000 more people will have begun Berachos than finished Niddah the day before.

“So many people join but then they fall away,” Rabbi Perl said. “We’ve seen existing shiurim double after every siyum and then fall away. It doesn’t go back to where it was before, but it lessens.”

There are many kehillos that have their own structured learning today that didn’t exist years ago, he noted. There are also daily amud programs and weekly daf schedules.

Interestingly, the largest shiur in the world as well as the longest-running shiur are located outside the major Jewish population centers. Florida has the largest shiur, while the longest-running daf yomi is in Elizabeth, New Jersey, said Rav Yonasan Schwartz, the rav of Adas Yisroel in that city.

“We have about 60 people coming to three daf yomi shiurim in our shul,” Rav Schwartz said, smiling with pride, “including one of the longest running shiurim in the United States given by the same maggid shiur—Rav Eliezer Meir Teitz. He’s into his seventh cycle.”

Rav Eliezer Meir is a son of Rav Pinchos Teitz, a legend in American rabbanus, who served as rav in Elizabeth and was the first to give daf yomi shiurim on the radio.

Rav Schwartz said he began coming to the Siyum Hashas 30 years ago, in 1990, as a 16-year-old bochur. His relationship with daf yomi began at that event, which took place at the Madison Square Garden, where he heard a speech given by Rav Shimon Schwab, rov of Khal Adath Jeshurun in Washington Heights.

Rav Schwab related that he was in Europe when a bochur came over to him and said he was learning Bava Kama. Rav Schwartz said he perked up hearing that, since he was also learning that masechta.

“I’m not interested in what you’re doing to Bava Kama,” Rav Schwab said he told the bochur, “I’m interested in knowing what Bava Kama is doing to you.”

Those words penetrated into his heart, Rav Schwartz said, and he has been coming to the siyum ever since.

Aharon Schwartz got a three-year headstart to his father. At 13 years old, he accompanied the Elizabeth rov to MetLife for the siyum and was blown away at the sheer number of people in the stadium, saying he never saw so many people together at one time. When I asked him if was going to start learning daf yomi, he replied, “I’m thinking about it,” later adding, “I guess so.”

Chesky Holtzberg, the president of Lumiere Eyewear on Boro Park’s 16th Ave., was celebrating his third siyum hashas.

“The truth is,” Holtzberg said, “that it’s very sad that we see every daf only about once every seven-and-a-half years or so. We should see it more often. But boruch Hashem, we have such an event to energize ourselves to get back into it for more learning.”

Chesky then motions to an old yeshiva chavrusa of his from over 20 years ago. Yossi Klein is today one of three maggidei shiur at the famed daf yomi shiur on the Long Island Rail Road. Along with Eliezer Cohen and Sholom Fried, he has just completed their first cycle together. Prior to that, Rabbi Pesach Lerner, the vice president emeritus of the Young Israel, had pulled the chore along with Rabbi Cohen and Rabbi Fried.

“Twenty-eight years on the Long Island Rail Road,” said Rabbi Cohen, who said that on average between a dozen to fifteen people are on the fast-paced shiur in the train’s back car. “We started with Beitzah on Dec. 26, 1991—exactly 29 years ago.”

Teaching Gemara on the LIRR provides a steady dose of comic and interesting moments. There was the shidduch done by two shiur participants, and one member made a sheva brachos on the rails.

One of the funniest moments, Rabbi Klein said, came when a woman got on at the Jamaica station in Queens and noticed a Sichas Chullin. They were up to Chullin and the sefer provides graphic imagery for the masechta that deals with the innards of animals.

“She was able to identify parts of a bovine animal,” Rabbi Klein said, “because she deals with that in her profession.”

“She listened to all the discussions,” added Rabbi Cohen, who was completing Shas for the fourth time.

The shiur even led one Israeli immigrant to become a baal teshuva, Rabbi Cohen recalled. He would come onto the train every day and participate in the shiur, all without wearing a yarmulke. He even purchased the Hebrew ArtScroll Gemara and would prepare for the shiur.

“One day,” Rabbi Cohen said, “I’m giving the shiur and I see that he’s wearing a yarmulke. I asked what happened so he says, ‘For the daf, I have to put on the yarmulke.’ Eventually he moved back to Eretz Yisroel, because he was concerned that his children were going to public school.”

Rabbi Klein said that his grandfather, Rabbi Eliezer Fishoff, was at the first Siyum Hashas made by Rav Meir Shapiro in Lublin. He eventually went on to begin daf yomi and completed the cycle seven times. He started it an eighth time, but was niftar four years ago, at the age of 95.

“What a mamaad, what a kvod sheim shomayim berabim,” said Rabbi Klein. “It’s beautiful,” echoed Rabbi Cohen.

The Siyum Saved My Son

One person credits the siyum with saving the ruchnius of his son. The man said that his son married and learned in kollel for several years before going out to the workforce.

“He got a relatively good job and worked really, really hard to make sure he and his boss were successful,” the man said. “Work really took over his life, to the extent that from Shabbos to Shabbos, he almost didn’t open a sefer.”

The man and his wife, concerned about their son’s slide but unable to mix in, decided that every single member of the family would attend the Siyum Hashas. The only one with a hardship, however, was the son who was the target of their campaign. He had two young children and couldn’t leave them for the day. The man said that his wife arranged for babysitting, and his son and daughter-in-law were at MetLife seven years ago.

At the siyum, the son was watching a video montage, in which the screens flashed one masechta after the next.

“That got him,” the proud dad said. “He saw that there’s a beginning and an end. It’s not infinite. Berachos, Shabbos, Eruvin, Pesachim—it goes in an order and it gets done. He was so entranced by the video that he decided he was going to go into work every day 45 minutes later and make up the time at the end of the day. He started going to a shiur every day — and he’s actually finishing Shas now.”

One of the siyum’s young participants almost didn’t make it. Sholom Eisen, 11, got a surprise when he was in his Rachmastrivke yeshiva that morning. His father, Rabbi Yisroel Mordechai, called his menahel and said at the last minute he wanted to take his son to the siyum.

“Wait a minute,” the menahel said. He called in Sholom, the great-grandson of his namesake who served as a senior dayan in Yerushalayim’s Eidah Hachareidis, and gave him a farher on the first perek of Makkos. “He knew it very well,” the menahel told Rabbi Eisen. “Tell him he deserves to go to the Siyum Hashas.”

Eleven may be too young, but is he starting the daf now?

“Probably not,” Sholom said. “When I get older and will know better. In seven years, I’ll be in yeshiva gedolah.”

Rubashkin Makes His First Siyum Hashas

“How are you, Rabbi Donn?” I turn around to see Rabbi Leibish Lish, a rebbi in Yeshiva Karlin Stolin and friend of Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin.

“If you’re here, Sholom Mordechai must not be far away,” I joked.

Indeed, a few minutes later I spied Rubashkin, who was attending as a first-time mesayem.

Geloibt der Eibishter that I’m able to be here with 100,000 people and not have to read about it in the papers,” said Rubashkin, who just marked his second anniversary of the commutation of his prison sentence by President Donald Trump.

Sholom Mordechai started the last cycle the day after the last siyum, and was completing Shas now for the first time.

“I remember by the last Siyum Hashas, my wife was here and she told me all about it, and I was mamesh yearning to be here myself,” he said. “And now is the next time and I’m actually here. And what better thing to start with than with Berachos—we should have all the berachos.”

Standing near the side before the program began was Chesky Deutsch, who emerged as Jersey City’s small Jewish community’s most effective spokesman in the days and weeks after the shootout in a kosher grocery last month. A member of the Satmar kehillah, he’s never attended a Siyum Hashas for daf yomi, but felt that with the Jewish community’s embrace of his kehillah these past few weeks, it was the right thing to do.

“It was amazing,” Deutsch said. “Until that”—everyone knows what “that” referred to—“we were a small community. We now feel that all of Klal Yisroel is together. The Jewish people helped us, each in their own way. Now we have to come together again for good reasons.”

What Were the Highlights of the Event?

While I was speaking to people, Mincha started. After the tefillah ended, I spotted another first-time siyum participant—Dani Dayan, the Israeli consul general for New York, who has made it his business to attend Jewish events such as this.

He said that he wanted to be at the siyum “as a representative of the state of Israel, to be where 90,000 Jews gather to celebrate limud Torah. Especially now, when chareidi Jews are being singled out for being Jewish.”

Everyone had their own highlight of the day’s event. Mine, for example, was the spirited dancing after the Kaddish. Dayan’s, he said, was Shemonah Esrei.

“The most striking moment was when I entered the stadium,” he said, “and I saw tens of thousands of people, and complete silence. For a few seconds I didn’t understand what was going on, until I understood that it was in middle of the tefillah. It was so striking—so many people and so silent.”

“That,” he added, “was a moment that I will never forget.”

“Ambassador,” I asked, “are you planning on doing the daf from now on?”

“I will do my best,” he said with a laugh.

For Aron Weider, a Rockland County legislator, the highlight of the day came toward the end, when a group of Holocaust survivors were brought in for the Keil Molei honoring the six million kedoshim.

“It is indescribable—the zechus I had to go over to 18 Holocaust survivors and kiss each and every single one of them on the hand is something that I will tell over for the rest of my life,” said Weider, a historian who lectures and takes groups to places in Europe with a connection to the Holocaust.

The Siyum’s Message: Klal Yisroel Takes Its Yeshivos Seriously

The stadium was packed with elected officials and politicians, with New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, wearing a yarmulke, the highest ranking one. He was the only one to be invited to the dais, and was greeted with an ovation from the crowd.

The troubles and violence that have gradually overtaken front pages of the heimishe press were barely mentioned at the siyum, which was exclusively dedicated to the simchas haTorah.

Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zweibel alluded to three bloody and dozens of other bias attacks in his welcome speech right after Mincha. No one mentioned the New York State Department of Education’s attempts to impose draconian regulations on yeshivos.

But Yehoshua Bedrick, who lays claim to the title as the first chassidishe person elected to a state legislature in the United States, noted that there is a political dimension as well.

“It shows that Yidden have a constituency,” said Bedrick, a Lubavitcher, sitting at a front row seat near the stage. “The yeshiva life is at the center of Yiddishe life. So to see all these people together is a message to the entire world that here is a group of people who are serious about learning. Not just learning as children, but lifelong learning. And politicians see that this is a constituency that is going to take seriously any threat to that learning.”

A former member of New Hampshire’s House of Representatives, Bedrick currently is director of policy at EdChoice, an Arizona-based group which advocates for school choice in state legislatures.

Bedrick is a first-time siyum participant; he was sent by his group due to their interest in Jewish education. His “siyum moment” came early on.

“I’ve never davened with that many people and such a diverse group of people,” Bedrick said. “There was music blaring and so many people talking, and then all of a sudden everyone is quiet, turning toward Yerushalayim for Mincha.”

Program Centers on Joy of Siyum, Primacy of Torah

The first major address was by Rav Malkiel Kotler, the rosh yeshiva of Beis Medrash Govoah, who praised the cohesiveness of Klal Yisroel, which celebrates a siyum made by others.

“We ourselves were enriched by the Torah, even though not every one of us are making a siyum,” Rav Kotler said. “Klal Yisroel learned Shas. That’s a tremendous simcha for Klal Yisroel as a whole.”

The organizers plan some new programming for each siyum, and this one was no exception. “Siyum moments” were sprinkled about the program, some via video and others with a live speaker.

Rabbi Lish was the first to deliver the moment. It was a story of love and persistence by a young boy confronted with unbelievable challenges, but who chose to rise above it all. It was, in Rabbi Lish’s words, “one of the most touching siyumim” he was ever at.

It was the story of little Shimon Yehuda, a 10-year-old boy at Yeshiva Beis Hatorah (newly renamed Nachlei Torah) in Lakewood. Diagnosed with a brain tumor three years ago, his father was advised by Rav Yitzchok Kolodetzky to study a masechta with his son and make a siyum on it.

“In the past three years, Shimon Yehuda went through a lot of surgeries and treatments but he never gave up,” Rabbi Lish said, his words echoing through the vast area. “Five weeks ago, on Tuesday of parshas Chayei Sarah, Shimon Yehuda went to Florida for a difficult surgical procedure. His mother prepared everything needed for the trip, but Shimon Yehuda also prepared himself. Yes, three days before he flew to Florida, he was zoche to make his own siyum on the entire Maseches Berachos, which was celebrated with tremendous simcha.”

The entire assemblage rose and gave a standing ovation as the video screen focused on Shimon Yehuda, who waved from his seat with a smile. Rabbi Lish blessed him that he should soon “make a siyum on all your treatments and surgeries, and also be zoche to make your own Siyum Hashas.”

In an interview later, Rabbi Lish said that his story apparently touched many people.

“It was a real source of chizuk, very inspirational,” he said. “Wherever I go, people stop me and tell me, ‘Reb Leibish, it was very inspiring.’ It was a push for people to see that even if you go through hard situations, you could still do it.”

Shimon learned his seder, his father said, even if it was just few minutes a day.

“He always wanted to learn,” the father told the Yated. “As hard as it was, as tough as it was, he made sure to learn.”

Rabbi Lish is used to public speaking, but he said he never felt as he did when addressing such a huge assemblage.

“Fright is not the word,” Rabbi Lish said. “I had to prepare the speech in advance. Halevai every word I say from now on should have that same fright and preparation.”

Rabbi Lish, who lost his father as an eight-year-old child, comes from daf yomi royalty. His grandfather, Rav Leibish Lish, was a talmid of Rav Meir Shapiro in Yeshiva Chachmei Lublin and later founded the Vaad L’hafotzas Daf Hayomi, later becoming the first person to produce daf yomi tapes.

“I feel that my father is looking down at me from shomayim,” he said. “He’s proud of me.”

‘What is the Secret of Our Survival?’

In his address, the Novominsker Rebbe spoke about the many ancient empires that came and went—yet despite so much persecution, Klal Yisroel is still around.

“There was nothing to keep them alive. But Klal Yisroel is alive,” said the rebbe, Rav Yaakov Perlow, ticking off the Churban, Crusades, Spanish Inquisition, Cossacks and Holocaust. “What is the secret of our survival? The Torah hakedosha that we study, and that we continue to study to this day. The Torah is our joy.”

The siyum is a mindboggling auspicious time, stated Rav Yissochor Frand, rosh yeshiva in Ner Yisroel of Baltimore, and participants should use the occasion both to daven for those who need a yeshuah and reflect on the “renaissance” of the American Torah community.

The event itself began with a siyum on the Shisha Sidrei Mishna learned by children called the Masmidei Hasiyum. The last mishnah was said by Rabbi Nosson Scherman, the general editor of ArtScroll/Mesorah Publications. Rav Chaim Benoliel, rosh yeshiva of Mikdash Melech, said the Hadran.

Rav Aharon Schiff, the chief rabbi of Antwerp and the keynote speaker, said that the Tannaim, Amoraim and Rishonim were dancing along with the mesaymim.

The siyum itself was preceded by a live broadcast from the Bnei Brak home of the gadol hador, Rav Chaim Kanievsky. Rav Chaim’s brocha for the mesaymim was that “they should have the zechus to know Shas,” followed by the familiar “Buah buah,” which the gaon uses as a shorthand for “bracha v’hatzlacha.”

Rav Reuven Feinstein, rosh yeshiva of Staten Island, then read a special letter sent from Rav Chaim in honor of the mesaymim. He was followed by a second “siyum moment” by Shlomo Farhi, who told Mendy Rosenberg’s story. Mendy, who has ALS and cannot move any of his muscles, was at the siyum seven years ago and was determined that he would be among those completing Shas at the next siyum, using the only body part that he could move—his eyes.

The screen then turned to Mendy, who eyes were shining as a brocha and the “amen!” of 90,000 people rained down on him.

As everything else at the event, the Gemara used for the siyum has a fascinating story for itself, told by master storyteller Rabbi Paysach Krohn in a video message. The Gemara was one of a few surviving copies from a set printed in the DP camps after World War II, and was presented by Rabbi Zev Paperman and Rabbi Chaim Sieger, the sons of an army chaplain and Holocaust survivor, respectively, who learned together for a short while at a DP camp in Italy.

Making the actual siyum was Rav Shmuel Kamenetsky, the rosh yeshiva of Philadelphia, who began by thanking Rav Dovid Feinstein, the rosh yeshiva of Mesivta Tiferes Yerushalayim, for giving him the zechus to recite the Hadran.

“You have to understand that giving up a kavod is not an easy thing,” the rosh yeshiva said. “It is not easy. I really appreciate Hagaon Reb Dovid for giving me the opportunity to make the siyum.”

The Kaddish was recited by siyum sponsor Jay Schottenstein, in memory of his father, Jerome.

Mazel tov! Mazel tov!” tens of thousands of voices called out as the last amen filled the stadium, marking the conclusion of an 88-month journey for approximately half the people there. The dynamic quartet of Abish Brodt, Shloimy Daskal, Boruch Levine and Shloimy Gertner boomed out a series of songs, from “Ashrei mi,” “Ashreichem,” “Olam haba iz ah gutte zach” and “Ahallelu,” accompanied by energetic dancing.

Hundreds of emergency workers joined hands, their reflective orange and yellow vests gleaming in the night. The screens lit up with the dozens of sites joining in, including one in Lublin at Rav Meir Shapiro’s yeshiva, an army base in Israel and the former Soviet Union.

Beginning the 14th cycle was Rav Aharon Feldman, rosh yeshiva of Ner Yisroel in Baltimore, followed by an address by Rav Uren Reich, rosh yeshiva of Woodlake.

A troupe of Holocaust survivors then arrived at the stadium from Boro Park for the final presentation, in memory of the six million victims of the Nazis. It was preceded by a fascinating video montage of Rav Mordechai Gifter, the Bluzhever Rebbe, Rav Shimon Schwab and ybl”ch Rav Mattisyahu Salomon speaking about the Churban Europe at previous siyumim. The moving Keil Molei recited by Chazan Yitzchok Meir Helfgott brought many to tears, and Ani Maamin was sung by the singers.

One survivor, a 90-year-old man with the blue numbers still etched on his arms, was so moved by the experience that he exclaimed, “We are looking at Hitler’s downfall!”

The event concluded with kabbolas ol malchus shomayim by the Novominsker Rebbe, followed by Hashem Melech by the Klausenburger Rebbe. Rav Leizer Ginsberg, rov of Agudas Yisroel Beis Shmuel in Flatbush, led Maariv.

I had my first attempt at delivering an elevator speech on my way out of the siyum, with the appearance of renowned Israeli reporter Sivan Rahav-Meir in the lift.

I asked if I could turn the cameras on her. She was in a hurry to return to Israel after having spent the past four months in the States with her husband, but she had a minute.

“This is the most exciting event we saw here in the States,” Rahav-Meir said. “For us, what we see here every day is confusing, it’s overwhelming. Everything here is bigger, is more—just think about Amazon Prime. Amazon Prime means immediate satisfaction. With daf yomi, it’s all about patience—seven-and-a-half years, day after day, a daf a day. So seeing so many Jews who are not confused is very impressive to us. These Jews are not confused. I just saw 100,000 Jews who are not confused—and they are in America.”

I had one more chance to make an elevator speech about 10 minutes late. Rosemary Yacono, who has been working at MetLife since 2001, was manning the elevator when I was going down to the floor at the end of the siyum. I asked her about the crowd that day, which I assumed was different than the average throng she meets in the stadium.

“I’m telling you,” she said while pressing the buttons to go down, “I would have done this for nothing. I would actually love to come back in seven years and sit as a spectator.”

Yacono was working for MetLife at the last siyum in 2012, but was forced to sit that one out due to a nasty case of the flu.

Yacono later repeated her comments in an online post that went viral.

“There have been only a handful of events at MetLife Stadium that have so totally moved me emotionally during my tenure since 2001,” she penned. “Today definitely qualified. Despite the horrific hate crimes as of late, Jews defied fear and chose to rise above what would have been the natural instinct to postpone—and they did so with a real joy, the likes of which I probably will not see again.

“While I love my faith and would never look elsewhere, there is a sense of community that these people truly embrace which can’t help but be envied by its counterparts. It was a genuine pleasure to be part of this experience, that only occurs every seven years. In all likelihood I will probably not be employed by the Stadium for the next round; however, it is extremely likely I will be attending as a spectator. Yeah … one for sure, for the Bucket List.”

That next siyum be”H, will be on June 7, 2027, four days before Shavuos. No weather predictions, but June temperatures in Yerushalayim are typically warm.



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