Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky, Rosh Yeshiva Philadelphia, bestowed divrei berachah. Rabbi Yaakov Perlow, Novominsker Rebbe and Rosh Agudath Israel, proudly noted the cross-sections of the observant community that gloried in participating. Rabbi Dovid Olewski, Gerer Rosh Yeshiva, exalted the commitment to Torah study. Rabbi Yitzchok Scheiner, Rosh Yeshiva Kaminetz Jerusalem, brought greetings from Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman, Sage of Jerusalem, and mourned the passing of Rabbi Yosef Sholom Elyashiv, zt”l.
Many of the speakers declared that the credit of all who completed the seven-and-a-half year study cycle belongs to their wives and families for having supported them and given moral encouragement. Masterfully produced video presentations mesmerized the audience.
Additional keynote speakers included Rabbi Shlomo Gertzulin, Agudah Vice President for Finances; Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zweibel, Agudah Executive Vice President; Shlomo Yehuda Rechnitz, Daf Yomi program chairman; Reb Yaakov Rechnitz, who recited Tehillim 130; Elly Kleinman, who served as Daf Yomi chairman; Rabbi Shlomo Rechnitz; Jay Schottenstein, who recited the Siyum Kaddish honoring his father, Jerome Schottenstein, z”l,visionary sponsor of the Schottenstein Shas; and Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv and former Chief Rabbi of Israel.
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As Rabbi Kotler completed the closing words of the Hadran formula, spontaneous singing and dancing erupted throughout the stadium. Led by Reb Abish Brodt, the singing and dancing made the stadium sway. Though there was no real dancing space, participants held hands and danced side to side. On the field, the dancing in small circles was intense and emotional.
Rabbi Yaakov Hillel, Rosh Yeshiva Chevrat Ahavat Shalom in Jerusalem, opened the 13th Daf Yomi study cycle to the greatest number ever of re-enlisted participants – and, most remarkably, new beginners. Rabbi Hillel figuratively stood in the very place where Rabbi Meir Shapiro stood in 1923 when the Daf Yomi was first launched.
Young boys, representing all the boys who have undertaken the learning of Mishnayos in memory of the one and a half million children murdered by the Nazis, may they be erased from history, were highlighted and acclaimed at the Siyum. Rabbi Baruch Levine sang in their honor.
In dedicating the Daf Yomi Siyum Hashas to the memory of the six million martyrs murdered in the Holocaust, Chazzan Yitzchok Meir Helfgott movingly sang the Kel Moleh prayer of remembrance, Kaddish was recited by Rabbi Pinchos Huberfeld, and Shlomie Daskal sang Ani Maamin. The emotional renditions of the Kel Moleh and Ani Maamin moved many to tears.
Rabbi Shmuel Dovid Halberstam, Sanz-Klausenberger Rebbe in Boro Park, shouted the Kabbalas Ol Malchus Shamayim – the acceptance of Heaven’s lordship, echoed by the more than 90,000 participants. The huge Maariv minyan, numbering in the tens of thousands and led movingly by Rabbi Eliezer Ginsberg, Rosh Kollel Mir Yeshiva and Rav Agudath Israel, snifZichron Shmuel, served as the close of the Siyum, with prayers that the next Daf Yomi Siyum be in Jerusalem after the ingathering of all Jews.
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In the days leading up to the official Siyum and during the week after, major events took places in cities all over the world celebrating the completion of the Daf Yomi cycle. Many shuls gave a kiddush honoring their members who participated. Some of these events, such as those in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, were attended by tens of thousands. They are, individually and collectively, further enthusiastic proof of Daf Yomi’s majestic success.
More than 80 locations across the United States and Canada hosted live satellite feeds from New Jersey, and there were hook-ups in countries ranging from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile and China to Mexico, Panama, Poland, Russia, South America, Ukraine and Venezuela. The Siyum celebration literally spanned the world.
Interestingly, Lublin, Poland – home of Rabbi Meir Shapiro, zt”l, the Lubliner Rav and founder and Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Chachmei Lublin as well as founder of the Daf Yomi movement – was again a site of a Siyum Day Yomi celebration.
The site was the very building that served as the Lublin Yeshiva – built by Rabbi Shapiro – and held two Siyum Daf Yomi celebrations before the Holocaust. Rabbi Shapiro presented his plan for a daily page of Talmud study to the first international convention of Agudath Israel held in Vienna in 1923. In 1930, completing the very first study cycle and again in 1938, following the premature passing of Rabbi Shapiro in 1933, the Siyum was conducted in the stately study hall (beis medrash) of the yeshiva.