East Rutherford, New Jersey — Prayers filled MetLife Stadium on New Year's Day as more than 90,000 Jews came together to celebrate a religious event called Siyum HaShas. The event celebrates the accomplishment of studying the entire 2,700-page ancient Jewish text called the Talmud one page a day for seven and a half years.
"It's a explanation of Jewish laws that come from the Bible and how we get to where we practice them today," said Aaron Stein, who attended the event. The celebration comes on the heels of violent attacks on the Jewish community in the area.
On December 10, two shooters targeted a kosher market in Jersey City, killing three people. During the holiday of Hanukkah last week, a man attacked five people with a knife at the home of a rabbi in Monsey, New York.
There was a tight security presence at the stadium. Organizers said more than 300 uniformed state police were on hand.
Orthodox Jews take part in the 13th Siyum HaShas, a celebration marking the completion of the Daf Yomi, a seven-and-a-half-year cycle of studying texts from the Talmud, the canon of Jewish religious law, at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, January 1, 2020. Reuters/Jeenah Moon
Aaron and Francine Stein came to the event and said they refuse to hide in the shadows. "Now, it's very important to show that we're strong and we can't be stopped," Francine Stein said. "And it's not that I don't have second thoughts about the safety here, but I know that we'll be protected, and we have to show our strength in who we are."
Thousands of others took part in another celebration in Brooklyn, New York, and others watched from all over the world.