Tonight, tens of thousands of Jews will celebrate completing their study of the Talmud. Some of the celebrants are full-time Torah scholars, others are dentists, mechanics and businesspeople. Almost all of them have been involved in the Daf Yomi, a program of studying one folio page of Talmud each day that was initiated in 1923 by Rabbi Meir Shapiro. It takes 7 ½ years to complete the Talmud’s 2711 folio pages one folio page at a time, and each Daf Yomi cycle’s completion is celebrated at a Siyyum Hashas. A siyyum is a special celebration observed upon completing any set amount of Torah study. Shas is an acronyn for the Talmud, alluding to the Shisha Sedarim, the six orders into which both the Mishna and the Talmud are divided.
Across the country, school breakfast programs are offered in order to ensure that students will be properly nourished and capable of putting forth their best efforts during their day of learning. While the origins of the often repeated statement that
Every four years, sports fans and non-sports fans alike come together for the athletic spectacle that is the Summer Olympics! We watch in awe, cheer with enthusiasm and now (in 2012) immediately head to Twitter to update our status about the amazing physical feats we just witnessed! If you’re obsessively Tweeting about the Olympic talents in London, here are the Top 5 Jewish Olympians you should be following on Twitter:
American Jews have a new reason to be proud of their country at this year’s 2012 Summer Olympics. Jewish gymnast Aly Raisman first wowed spectators when she earned one of the two spots in the all-around individual finals for the US. Then, she wowed Jews worldwide when performed a floor exercise routine to the tune of “Hava Nagila,” a Hebrew folk song that has become a staple at Jewish weddings and Bar/Bat Mitzvahs.
In the world of sports, Bobbie Rosenfeld had, what one might call, the “magic touch.” As it was once noted: “The most efficient way to summarize Bobbie Rosenfeld’s career…is to say that she was not good at swimming” (Jewsinsports.org). What is more amazing about her incredible sportsmanship is the fact that she had no formal athletic training.
The saddest day on the Jewish calendar, the ninth of Av, is this Shabbat. Because of Shabbat, the normally observed Fast of the 9th of Av (Tisha B’Av) is pushed off until Sunday. The observances of the day are very similar to Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. In addition to fasting (no food or drink) for a 25 hour period, additional restrictions include refraining from washing, using lotions, wearing leather shoes and marital relations.
In war, a common means of humiliating the enemy is to refuse them burial of their dead (which is also forbidden by the Geneva Convention). Certainly, demoralization was the goal of the Romans when they forbade the Jews from burying the dead after the fall of Betar on 9 Av, 133 C.E. And there were many dead–enough for the sages to pronounce that, “For seven years the gentiles fertilized their vineyards with the blood of Israel without using manure.”
On July 27, 1996, the world was startled when a pipe bomb exploded in Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, Georgia. The bomb killed one person directly, another indirectly (heart attack) and injured 111 others.
On Sunday, Jews all over the world will observe the fast of Tisha B’Av. It is on this day that the Jewish people mourn the destruction of both the First and Second Temples. The First Temple was destroyed almost 2,600 years ago and the Second Temple 1,942 years ago. It is therefore not easy to understand what exactly it is that the Jewish people mourn.
The Babylonian Exile that followed the destruction of the First Temple lasted for 70 years. Under the leadership of Ezra and Nechemia, however, the Jews began to return to the land of Israel and to Jerusalem. Many chose not to return, but those who did rebuilt the Temple, although on a far more modest scale than the First Temple.