Largest event ever at Metlife Stadium on Jan. 1 celebrates Jewish faith
EAST RUTHERFORD — Nearly 92,000 people who have spent the past seven years studying the Talmud are expected to celebrate their accomplishment on New Year's Day at what organizers say will be the "safest place in New Jersey" at the 13th Siyum HaShas at MetLife Stadium.
Thousands of Jews have been reading one page a day of the 2,711 double-sided folio pages called the Talmud, the secondary source of Jewish law after the Old Testament, Siyum HaShas COO Rabbi Yoseuf C. Golding told New Jersey 101.5. The celebration of music and dancing will be attended by over 1,000 rabbis from around the northeast and Israel.
The event takes place less than a week after a stabbing at the home of a rabbi in Monsey. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said there have been 13 anti-Semitic incidents in New York in the past month.
Mindy Ferencz, 31, Douglas Miguel Rodriguez, 49, and Moshe Deutsch, 24 died inside the JC Kosher Supermarket on Dec. 10 when two shooters got out of a van and opened fire with rifles on the store on Martin Luther King Drive, authorities have said. The shooters, identified by authorities as David Anderson and Francine Graham, were found dead in the store after a shootout with police.
The shooters also gunned down Jersey City police Detective Joseph Seals moments earlier in a cemetery and killed a cab driver in Bayonne days earlier, but authorities are still investigating how those confrontations connected to the market shooting, which is being investigated as an act of domestic terror.
The events have served to energize attendees who want to show they will not give in to domestic terrorism. Golding said he lives close to the rabbi's home in Monsey.
"We are celebrating. We are showing the world that we are not in anyway intimidated," Golding said.
State Police Sgt. Lawrence Peele said that there will be a "noticeable uniformed presence as well as troopers in plain clothes."
Peele would not reveal any numbers but said there are a number of law enforcement and government agencies involved in the planning for the event higher than coverage provided for regular Giants and Jets games.
"The New Jersey State Police along with our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners will be on hand to ensure a safe and secure environment for all attendees, workers, and responders for the duration of the event. We are in communication with agencies in neighboring states as well as NJ Transit to ensure safe and efficient transportation to and from the stadium," Peele said.
He also said that attendees should remain vigilant, and that if they see something, they should say something. Suspicious activity can be reported by calling 1-866-4-SAFE-NJ.
Golding said that in planning meetings law enforcement said security would be like a "football game on steroids" and that the "safest place to be in New Jersey on New Year's Day will be inside MetLife Stadium."
The Siyum marks the completion of the task Golding described as hard and difficult. It is written is Aramaic instead of traditional Hebrew, which adds to the challenge.
"It's extremely emotional because a lot of work goes into studying day in and day out," Golding said. Many set aside 45 minutes to over an hour daily at the beginning or end of their day to read and study.
"When they say the final words and the music breaks out with the words 'mazeltov,' which means congratulations, the tears are flowing and the dancing is just spontaneous and it's a wonderful place," Golding said.
The tradition of reading the Talmud began in Poland in 1923 but stopped during World War II and thought to be lost forever, according to Golding.
"Nobody was able to study that any longer and people thought it would never reinvent itself. But here in America and in the state of Israel it was reincarnated," he said.
Golding said The Siyum would be the biggest event to take place at MetLife Stadium and is the second in a row to be held in the Meadowlands with a second overflow location at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. It will also be simulcast at 24 smaller locations in New York and New Jersey.
In April, 82,265 people attended Wrestlemania 35.
A spokesperson from MetLife Stadium did not immediately return a message on Tuesday afternoon.
NJ Transit will operate rail service between Secaucus and the Meadowlands starting at 10:11 a.m. with bus from Secaucus to MetLife Stadium starting at 9:30 a.m. from platforms 9 and 10 at the Secaucus bus plaza. Rail service after the event begins at 5:20 p.m.
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