Religion & Beliefs

After Seven Years of Talmud Study, Participants and Supporters Celebrate

Nearly 90,000 gather at Metlife Stadium in New Jersey to celebrate the completion of daf yomi Read More

By / August 2, 2012

Last night, nearly 90,000 Jews headed to the MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. to celebrate the siyum hashas, the completion of a seven-and-a-half year cycle of Talmud study known as daf yomi. The Times estimated that of the 90,000 gathered, 30,000 to 40,000 had themselves participated in the daily study, while the rest of the crowd was there to support and celebrate their completion.

As Miriam Krule helpfully explained in Slate earlier this week, “Daf yomi literally translates to daily page, and if you stick to the schedule, in just under eight years you can finish all 36 tractates of the Talmud.” She goes on to explore the enormous complexity of the lengthy task, noting that more recent technological innovations have made the process accessible to a wider audience—likely contributing to the record-breaking number of attendees last night.

But New Jersey wasn’t the only place to celebrate the end of the study cycle. Tablet Magazine featured a moving reflection from a participant in an all-female Torah study group in Jerusalem:

But the idea of a group of women teachers and students learning the entire Talmud is still unusual. The women in Matan’s daf yomi group are not interested in making a statement about female abilities, or pulling a stunt; they’re interested in learning the text, studying Torah lishma, for its own sake. Still, Matan chancellor Malka Bina noted that the siyum hashas has special meaning for the women involved: “This is a historic day for Jewish women’s scholarship,” said Bina. “Women have once again proven that they are capable of the same learning qualities as men.”

The New Jersey event—which 20,000 women attended, separated by a mechitza in the stadium’s top tier—was chronicled with smartphones and video cameras, a further reminder of the technological developments of the past seven years. Jewish Humor Central even put together a list of the funniest tweets from the evening, which ranged from suggestions of starting a wave through the stadium (or a cheer of J-E-T-S) to pointing out that ‘daf yomi’ rhymes with ‘macaroni.’ Hope the Maccabeats saw that one!

What does 90,000 people praying and celebrating look like, you ask? Well, just like this: