ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Thousands Gathered at MetLife Stadium for Religious Ceremony

By Desirée Taylor
NJ Today

An estimated 90,000 Orthodox Jews braved heavy traffic and an afternoon deluge in order to attend a religious celebration at MetLife Stadium Wednesday night. The event marked the 12th Siyum HaShas, the culmination of the study of the 2,711 pages of Talmud, which takes about seven and a half years to complete. The Talmud is the collection of early religious writings that form the basis of Judaism.

“Tens of thousands have studied this program and the celebration is the end of the program right before it begins again,” said Rabbi Avi Shafran of Agudath Israel of America, the sponsor of the event.

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Over the decades the North American Siyum has grown from a few hundred people in 1960 to tens of thousands of participants. In 2005, organizers say demand was so high the event was held at three venues in the region — Madison Square Garden, the Nassau Coliseum and the Izod Center. All told, organizers claim 150,000 Jews in cities across the world have marked the completion of this program since its inception.

Federal, state and local law enforcement were out in full force to provide security for the event. State police say preparation began months ago and special training was required for the 600 troopers who were on duty.

“There are more than 70 agencies coming together to provide security for this event,” said Lt. Stephen Jones, spokesman for the New Jersey State Police. He said the lessons learned from this assignment will help law enforcement fine tune security plans for future big events including the Super Bowl.