Orthodox Jews take part in the 12th Siyum HaShas, a celebration marking the completion of the Daf Yomi, a seven-and-a-half-year cycle of studying texts from the Talmud, the canon of Jewish religious law, at the MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey August 1, 2012. More than 90,000 Orthodox Jews are expected to gather at the stadium for the event which involves speeches, singing and dancing, according to the organisers. Reuters.
By Mark Mueller and Jason Grant/The Star-Ledger
EAST RUTHERFORD — It has been described as a spiritual calling, a labor of love, a rich opportunity to connect with thousands of years of Jewish history and religion.
It has also been called a relentless endeavor and a marathon of study. There are no vacations, no shortcuts.
For 7½ years, day in and day out, Jews in New Jersey and around the world have studied a new double-sided page of the Talmud, the biblical commentary that, written over centuries, serves as a guide to spirituality and practical life.
Wednesday night, in what was billed as the largest celebration of shared Jewish learning in history, some 90,000 people crowded into MetLife Stadium to read portions of the Talmud’s 2,711th — and final — page.
The celebrants, mostly Orthodox Jews from across the United States and beyond, closed out the 7½-year cycle with prayer, speeches and, when the final line was read, an explosion of jubilation that literally shook the cavernous stadium for more than 20 minutes.
Erupting into song, they swayed arm in arm, danced in circles and formed a Conga line that snaked along the field level. Others danced and swayed in the stands.
"This is what unites us together as Jews, the study of the Torah and the Talmud and its lessons," said Lakewood resident Simon Weinstein, 47, who grew emotional as he explained what daily study of the Talmud has meant to him. "I learned to always have gratitude for everyone and everything. I’m much more appreciative in my life."
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