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August 10, 2012

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PAGE 2A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, AUGUST 10, 2012 By Uriel Heilman EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (JTA)--As a light drizzle tapered off over MetLife Stadium, more than 90,000 Jews packed into the home of the NFL's Jets and Giants for an event quite unlike any the popular sports and concert venue had ever seen. They came dressed in black and white, but not for any sports team. Instead of a raucous kickoff, there was a hushed mincha prayer. And in place of hot dogs, chees- esteaks and beer there was babka, danish and mineral water from a company based in Lakewood, N.J a center of yeshiva study. But as at the football games and rock concerts, there was exhilaration at the stadium the night of July 1 for the Siyum HaShas--the comple- tion of the 2,711-page Shas, or Talmud, in the page-a-day study cycle known as the Daf Yomi, literally "Daily Page." The excitement was evi- dent in the furrowed brows of concentration on congre- gants' faces during the prayer services, in the impassioned speeches onstage, and dur- ing the heady singing and dancing that followed the end of the special Kaddish marking the completion of the Talmud. "Fortunate is the person who sees, who experiences, Yisroel Golding/Siyumphotos More than 90,000people packed MetI, ife Stadium in New Jersey for the Siyum HaShas, celebrating the completion of the Daf Yomi page-a-day Talmud study cycle, Aug. 1. Yisroel Golding/Siyumphotos Daf Yomi Talmud study grows with poelry and scholarship. this great gathering," de- shamayim [heaven] watchingI portunity to showcase the clared Rabbi Shlomo Yehuda tensofthousandscelebrating strength of so-called Torah Rechnitz, the emcee of the the masechtos [tractates] Judaismanditsresurgencein SiyumHaShas."Trytovisual- theyworkedonsodiligently!" America following the Holo- ize the singing and dancing For the organizers of the caust. Indeed, the Holocaust that's going on right now in siyum, the event was an op- was the first subject that the chairman of the event, Elly Kleinman of Agudath Israel of America, talked about in the night's opening speech, Daf omi on page 18A By Uriei Heilman fashion, the event will be off the Holocaust ("Auschwitz," (heaven) watching tens of Springsteen. The Boss of the the ramps. Heck, there's no to a late start (30 minutes). "Nazis," "ghetto," "gas cham- thousands celebrating the World vs. the Boss. alcohol here. What are they EAST RUTHERFORD, There's so much black in the bets"), masechtos (tractates) they 8:41: Rabbi Yaakov Peflow, going to make a l'chaim on N.J. (JTA) With more than seats you'd think the Raiders 8:06: Attendance: 92,000- worked on so dilligently." the Novominsker rebbe, be- when they finish this thing? 90,000 people packed into were intown, plus, says Kleinman. The 8:19: Another mention of gins the first Yiddish speech 9:18: Longest Yiddish MetLife Stadium for the 12th 7:33: Mincha begins largestsiyum in history. Last the 6 million, of the night. Last time, 7 and speech of the night (20 min- DafYomi Siyum HaShas, JTA (nusach sfard). This is prob- time, in March 2005, the 8:20: Hitler mention: On 1/2 years ago, it was mostly utesandcounting)justended. was there calling the play by ably the quietest the stadium celebration was at the much- this day in 1936, the Olympic Yiddish. Is this progress or For simultaneous translation, play. has ever been. Those in the smaller Madison SquareGames began at a stadium of regress? Depends on your acall-innumberforareacode 6:18 p.m.: On the way to women's sections are asked Garden, with overflow crowds similar size in Berlin, Rech- perspective. 712(Iowa)wasprovided.Who the siyum. Mob scene at Penn to pull curtains erected by at ContinentalAirlines Arena nitznotes, drawingacontrast. 8:44: "The Torah knows no speaks Yiddish in Iowa? Oh, Station, with lines stretching the organizers to obstruct and the Javits Center, for a 8:22: First real Torah dis- barriers of language," Perlow right, those ex-Agri employees around corners at the ticket the men'sview. No more rain. total crowd of 50,000. Also: course of the night, on dif- says, shifting to English. stuck in Postville. windows and machines. Not 7:49: Chazarat HashatzFar larger than the mass cel- ferences between Esau and 8:50: Avideo of the story of 9:35: More Yiddish. Oy vey. your usual stadium crowd, continues, courtesy Rabbi ebrations last week in Israel. Jacob. Daf Yomi through the years. 9:39:Atthebeveragestand, 6:41: Transferring trains YaakovLevovitz, roshyeshiva Does Babylonia (the Diaspora) 8:24: Rechnitz alludes to First public Siyum Hashas in they're selling kosher water, at Secaucus amid tight secu- of Yeshivat Givat Shaul in still trump Jerusalem when it imprisonedJewsin"Postville, America: 1975.Twothousand regularwater and soft drinks. rity. Two black-hatted, peyos- Jerusalem. comes to the Talmud? Bolivia or North Carolina." people showed up at Manhat- For once, the kosher option is bouncing, tzitzis-flapping 7:50: Big question: Will 8:10: Kleinman:What hap- Read: AgriProcessers chief tan Center. cheaper (it's also smaller). At Chasids get pulled aside by there be tachnun (a peniten- pens the day after the Siyum? Aaron Rubashkin, New York 9:00: Big cheer as video the food stands, no pastrami, a K-9 officer who searches tialprayer omitted in celebra- "We turn the page." Clever. businessmanJacobOstreicher narrator declares this the no cheesesteaks, no hot dogs their black plastic bags. I get tory days), or is this simcha 8:ll:Anodtodiversity:This and convicted spy Jonathan biggest Siyum HaShas ever. (even kosher ones). What is waved right through. Was it enough cause to skip it? celebration is for all Jews, not Pollard. "A great American palace of there? Danish, cookie, choco- their beard style that aroused 7:51: No tachnun[ (Of justthosewithblackhats, says 8:34: I stop in the bathroom sport has been transformed late babka, potato chips. suspicion? course, thisisminchak'tana) the speaker, but also those forapitstop(toomuchGolden intoasanctuaryofthespirit!" 9:43: Breakaway Maariv 6:45: On the train, women 7:55: Tehilim (Psalms) for with velvet yarmulkes, knit Fluff Mineral Water--based and"Mayit hasten the arrival minyan in section 134. and men self-segregate. Do I the sick, for those in Israel, yarmulkesandeven--gasp!-- in Lakewood, N.J of course), of Moshiach tzidkeinu"--the 9:50: The actual siyum hearminchaminyan, anyone? for those unjustly impris- baseball caps. but I don't have to miss any of messiah, ceremony starts after a long 6:57: Pulling into MetLife oned. Abraham Foxman, the 8:12: The JumboTron the action because there are 9:01: First decorum an- Yiddish discourse by Rabbi Stadium (a.k.a. Giants Sta- national director of the Anti- screens a tribute video about fiat-screens above the urinals nouncement: Stop walking Kotler. dium). Instead of tailgaters Defamation League, stands Jerome Schottenstein (z"l), of broadcastingtheproceedings through the aisles. Now I feel 9:57: Mazel tov! We corn- in the parking lot it's full of behind the chazan, shukling the ArtScroll Schottenstein from the dais. Wait a minute: Iike I'm in shul. pletedShas! (Well, someofus, Hatzolah ambulances. Are and grinning. Talmud family, to whom the Isn'tthisahalachicproblem[? 9:06: Walking around the anyway).Wilddancingbegins. they on the job or just here 8:00: Rabbi Chaim Dovid Siyum is dedicated. (UPDATE: Later in the eve- stadium, theN.J.StateTroop- Rock the house[ for the party? Zwiebel of Agudath Israel of 8:16:ShlomoYehudaRech-ning, theTVsinthebathroom ersseemtobeinagoodmood. 10:11: Dancing ends and 6:59: One minute to kick- America takes the mic, intro- nitz, emcee:"Fortunate is the are muted.) This must be an easy crowd another speech begins. Wait, off--err, the daf. duces Elly Kleinman, Aguda's person who sees, who experi- 8:35:Musicalinterlude.The for them. No scent of weed there's more? I'm outta here. 7:03: A drizzle continues chairman of the 12th Siyum ences, this great gathering white-bearded rabbi onstage wafting through the air to 10:49: Train pulls out of to fall. According to Jewish HaShas. Offers a shortened Try to visualize the singing isquiteacontrastfromthelast track down, no fights in the MetLifeStadiumstop.Maariv tradition, it'sasignofblessing. "Shehecheyanu." and dancing that's going musician I heard a t this spot stands, no flashing in the minyan begins two minutes 7:13: In typical Jewish 8:02: First mention ofon right now in Shamayim a couple of years back: Bruce upper deck, no wilding on later. 1 By Steven Sotloff The Media Line Four hundred Egyptians gathered a few feet beyond the barricades at the entrance to the American Embassy in Cairo on Thursday to protest the continued imprisonment of a cleric convicted of con- spiring to attack the United States. For more than a year, pro- testers have held sit-ins and prayer sessions in the calm streets abutting the embassy, demanding the release of OmarAbdAI-Rahman. Thurs- day's gathering marked a spe- cial occasion--the breaking of a daylong fast Muslims ob- serve during the holy month of Ramadan. "We came to honor a man who is wrongly imprisoned in America," said Abd AI- Rahman's son Abd Allah. "We want the Americans to know that Egypt has not forgotten this great man." As he spoke, two dozen men shuffled between the narrow tables placing large yellow boxes full of food on the plastic tablecloths. Young boys dipped pita bread in rice as their fathers gobbled down grilled chicken breast. Among the protesters were leaders of the Islamic Group and Islamic Jihad who plotted the assassination of the late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in 1981 and who were only released from Egyptian prisons in the last decade. Abd A1-Rahman served as the spiri- tual leader to the Islamic Group. "America has always asked why it is hated in the Islamic world," Isam Dir Bala head of the Islamic Group's most senior body told The Media Line. "If it wants to improve its image, it needs to release the sheikh." Abd AI-Rahman, known as the Blind Sheikh, was a fiery preacherwho incited his flock in the 1970's. He issued reli- gious edicts, known as fatwas, permitting Egyptian Muslims to plunder and kill Christians. Later, he would urge his fol- lowers to murder Americans, saying "kill them on the sea, air or land." Following a short stint in an Egyptian prison, he travelled to Pakistan where he befriended A1-Qa'ida leaders Osama Bin Laden and Ayman Zawahiri. He came to the United States in 1990 andwas arrested in 1993 following the World Trade Center bombing. In 1995, he was convicted of seditious conspiracy, an ob- scure law rarely used to pros- ecute defendants inAmerican courts, and was sentenced to life in prison. Few of the protesters however were aware of Abd A1-Rahman's crimes. "The Americans arrested him because (former Egyptian President Hosni) Mubarak asked them to," noted Sha- turi Muhammad Shaturi, a 45 year old lawyer. "But now that Mubarak is gone, do the Americans need to keep an old blind sick man in prison?" Others sought to empha- size Abd A1-Rahman's human side. "The sheikh said the World Trade Center bombings were against Islamic law," explained Dr. Muhammad AI-Sagheer, the head of the Islamic Group's political party Building and Construction. "He was the first to support the initiative here in Egypt to stop the killings," referring to the Islamic Group's terror campaigns in the 1990's that left hundreds including for- eign tourists dead. All, however, agreed thatan improvement in American- Egyptian relations should be conditioned on the sheikh's release. "The Americans should understand that Egypt cannot help America if it is not willing to help Egypt," ex- plained senior Islamic Group leader Najih Ibrahim. "And this begins with the sheikh's release." Egypt's new Islamist lead- ers agree. Days after he was sworn into office, the new president Mohamed Morsi declared, "I see signs for Omar Abd A1-Rahman and detain- ees' pictures. It is my duty and I will make all efforts to have them free, including Omar Abd AI-Rahman." The Obama administration however has already indicated that a release is out of the question. "There is zero chance this happens," an official told the New York Times. Others involved in the case have also dismissed calls for humanitar- ian extradition. Former Attor- ney General Michael Mukasey, who was the presiding judge, said, "This guy is not a political prisoner. He was convicted in a system that leans heavily in favor of defendants, and every benefit of that system was given to him." But in Egypt, Abd Al- Rahman has become a cause c~l~bre among the resurgent Islamists who have taken power. Mubarak's fall broke long held social taboos about the role of Islam in society and lead to the rehabilita- tion of Islamists who once advocated violence. Among those viewed in a new light is Abd A1-Rahman, a man few agitated for beyond his small circle of supporters. "In the new Egyptwe are be- ginning to reconsider people and ideas," Islamist analyst Abd AI-Rahim Ali explained to The Media Line. "Among those being reconsidered is the sheikh. Beforem, Egyp- tians thought he was a fanatic that called for killing. But now we are told that he is a wise scholar who wants to work for national reconciliation." A number of the men at the breakfast sported flowing beards and long white robes popular with ultra-religious Muslims known as Salafists. But beyond the greasy tables and pita crumbs many more are clamoring for Abd A1- Rahman's release. And the sheikh's case is just one more problem Washington faces as it navigates a new Egypt.