Talmud in Downtown L.A.
Around 2,500 people turned out for the citywide Siyum HaShas celebration at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion Aug. 1. The event marked the completion of the seven-and-a-half year cycle of daily Talmud study known as Daf Yomi.
The program began with Mincha (afternoon prayer) just after 5:30 p.m. and featured several speakers, including Rabbi Elazar Muskin of Young Israel of Century City. Dayan Aaron Dovid Dunner, a sitting member of the London Beth Din, delivered a main address.
“Everybody can be a Daf Yomi person,” Dunner said. “You find time for business and for pleasure. You can find time for Daf Yomi if you want to.”
Rabbi Mechie Blau served as master of ceremonies and opened the night by congratulating the misayamim, those who had completed the Daf Yomi learning, and pointing out that this year’s Siyum took place in the days following Tisha b’Av, which commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temples.
“Everyone here deserves to be applauded,” he said. “This celebration shows that we are ready to restore the glory of the beis hamigdash.”
The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion event featured a live digital linkup with a larger celebration at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.Approximately 90,000 men and women attended the New Jersey Siyum.
This year marks the 12th time that Daf Yomi has been completed, dating back to the practice’s Polish inception in 1923.
While the event focused mainly on those who had completed the daily learning cycle, only a minority of those in attendance had actually completed Daf Yomi. Rabbi Baruch Zheutlin, a sixth-grade Talmud teacher at Yeshivat Aharon Yaakov Ohr Eliyahu, said that though he had not completed Daf Yomi, he felt like a part of the celebration for several reasons.
“The Siyum combines two great things: Jewish unity and Torah study,” he said. “And I learn Gemara, so this is my celebration too.”
Zheutlin said he brought his 8-year-old son so that “he could see the honor of so many Jews unifying together.”
Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, the Siyum’s press liaison, said that the impact of the Siyum could be seen as early as the next day when morning Daf Yomi Shiurim took place, beginning the 13th cycle.
“There were a lot of new faces on Thursday,” Adlerstein, who is the director of interfaith affairs at The Simon Wiesenthal Center, said. “Many people saw the majesty of Torah at the Siyum and were inspired.”
The next Siyum HaShas is set to take place early in 2020.