Northeast Ohioans celebrate years of Talmud reading with 90,000 others – Cleveland Jewish News

Posted By on January 5, 2020

Among the 90,000 people who packed MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., Jan. 1 were more than 100 Clevelanders, some of whom finished reading the 2,711 pages of Talmud in as many days.

Rabbi Shaul Rivkin of Cleveland Heights was among thousands at the stadium who finished the Talmud on a schedule. The concept of page a day or Daf Yomi was proposed at the Great Assembly of Agudath Israel in Vienna by Rabbi Meir Shapiro. The first cycle started on Rosh Hashana, Sep. 11, 1923.

Rivkin said he read Talmud on the day his son was born, in airports and at jury duty. He studied mostly alone, but occasionally worked on the endeavor with others he met in his travels.

A CPA, he often stayed up late to fulfill the daily obligation even though he also attends daily minyan at 6:30 a.m. at Congregation Ahavath Israel in Cleveland Heights.

Rabbi Shaul Rivkin finished reading the Talmud in 2,711 days.

In addition to the 90,000 at MetLife Stadium, there was an estimated 20,000 more at Barclays Center in Brooklyn to celebrate the finishing of the reading of the Talmud in a seven-plus year cycle.

Its this global community of people all studying the same page, Rivkin said. Theres a lot of hidden depth. Every time you go through it, you always find something more in it.

Rivkin said he spent a minimum of 15 minutes a day on the endeavor, but on more opaque texts, up to an hour. Occasionally, he spent the minimum time one day, and went back to do more in-depth study the following day on the same page, as well as studying the next.

He said he has no specific favorite sages of the Talmud or favorite passages. He often found connections and relevance to his daily life as he studied.

Its like your kids, he said. You love each of them.

The celebration, Rivkin said, was a communal thing.

Rabbi Yitz Frank, executive director of Agudath Israel of Ohio, who also attended the N.J. celebration, said he didnt have a lot of time to enjoy what was taking place on the main stage.

Video of Rabbi Yissachar Franz of Baltimore speaking at the Siyum was projected for the audience. | Photo / Rabbi Alan Joseph

I was helping film crews get access to different areas, he said, adding that the event logged the second-highest attendance of any event at the stadium.

The event, as in years past, was dedicated to the memory of the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust. Survivors were honored at several points during the days events, including with the reading of the memorial prayer.

This is our response to what the Nazis did, Frank said.

Agudath Israel of Ohio counted at least 120 people in Greater Cleveland who finished the Talmud in this seven-year cycle.

Rabbi Alan Joseph of Cleveland Heights attended the Siyum at the urging of and with his sons. He said he appreciated the opportunity to show solidarity.

Baruch Joseph, 11, from left, Rabbi Alan Joseph, Chaim Joseph, 12, Nosson Sher, Chesky Joseph, 14, take part in the Siyum HaShas, the celebration of the ending of the seven-year cycle of reading the Talmud a page a day at MetLife Stadium in Rutherford, N.J., on Jan. 1, 2020. Some 90,000 people packed the stadium. | Submitted photo

Whatevers happened to us, were going to continue with pride and confidence, he said, adding that a major part of the days events focused on how Jews have built Torah life since the Holocaust.

He said he was inspired by the commitment shown by a 10-year-old with brain tumors who has studied daily, and by a person with ALS.

Chaim Joseph, 12, a seventh grader at Hebrew Academy of Cleveland in Cleveland Heights, said he enjoys studying Talmud.

I enjoy the sweetness when you try really hard to get an answer, then you get the answer, he said.

Agudath Israel of Ohio estimates that 120 people in Greater Cleveland have finished studying Talmud a page a day.

His brother, Chesky Joseph, 14, an eighth grader at Hebrew Academy, said he enjoyed most the singing and dancing that followed the study of the final page of Talmud.

We were singing songs about the sweetness of learning, he said.

Rabbi Yeshai Kutoff traveled to the Siyum with 15 students from Yeshiva High School and a staffer. The head of school of the Beachwood Orthodox boys school called being at the stadium electric and a motivator.

It was just beautiful to see so many Jewish people together committed to the same goal of Torah study, he said. Thats really what its about.

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Northeast Ohioans celebrate years of Talmud reading with 90,000 others - Cleveland Jewish News

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