JERUSALEM – Three days after the 12th annual Siyum Hashas celebration at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey next summer, thousands of English-speaking devotees of Daf Yomi in Israel will descend on Jerusalem’s Binyanei Ha’uma Convention Center to partake in similar festivities.
The Sunday, August 5 event will feature a unique local program produced by Rabbi Mordechai Kornfeld, rosh kollel of Har Nof’s Kollel Iyun Hadaf, with the encouragement of Agudath Israel of America.
Rabbi Kornfeld, a native of Queens, New York, was also the driving force behind the first mass Siyum Hashas celebration ever held in Israel at Binyanei Ha’uma, which paralleled the 11th Siyum Hashas in America in March 2005.
Seven years ago Rabbi Kornfeld was admittedly somewhat skeptical as to how many people would show up.
“We were very surprised by the large numbers of people from across the entire religious spectrum that showed up to participate in the event,” he told The Jewish Press.
“We expected maybe 3,000 people, but when close to 6,000 people somehow squeezed their way into Binyanei Ha’uma in order to have a share in the celebration, it was a tremendous berachah.”
This time around Rabbi Kornfeld anticipates another record-breaking crowd to take part in the celebration, which will be highlighted by a series of inspiring lectures from some of Israel’s leading rabbis.
“Based on the success of the first event in 2005, we are endeavoring to expand the program and feature different speakers. Last time, the celebration was considered a maverick effort. This time around, we are transforming it into a community service. It’s no longer an oddity. We hope to extend the success and provide a greater inspiration.”
Since its founding in 1996, Kollel Iyun Hadaf has played a pivotal role in the development of Daf Yomi in Israel. Kollel Iyun Hadaf’s many experienced scholars, teachers and writers, a number of whom have already served as community leaders and community rabbis, produce free mailings on the Daf Yomi in English and Hebrew.
Rabbi Kornfeld said Kollel Iyun Hadaf has already produced 16 different collections of Talmudic study materials and is constantly generating more texts.
He believes the success of both Daf Yomi and the Siyum Hashas in Israel is linked directly to the growth of the religious Anglo community.
“When we did the first Siyum Hashas,” he said, “the religious Anglo communities in places such as Beit Shemesh, Modiin/Modiin Illit and Jerusalem were relatively new. Today, we also see young, newlywed Mir Yeshiva bochrim staying in the country, moving to neighborhoods across Jerusalem.
“You also have other American yeshiva students studying in Gush Etzion, Sha’alvim, etc., and staying in the country for years. Thus, the Anglo olam no longer feels isolated as it has become a true community.”
As the 12th Siyum Hashas celebration will take place during the height of the summer vacation season for tourists, Rabbi Kornfeld is confident the event will be a hot ticket.
“We know,” he said, ”that religious Anglos will want to take a break from the Summer Olympics in London, while hundreds of religious teenagers from North America who attend the various summer camps across Israel will almost certainly want to be a part of this fascinating experience.”
Editor’s Note: For more information on the Siyum Hashas in Jerusalem, go to www.englishdafyomi2012.com.