The Siyum HaShas taking place Wednesday, Aug. 1, is likely to be the biggest celebration of Jewish learning in modern times. More than 240,000 people are expected to participate worldwide, and the Valley's first Daf Yomi class to complete a full cycle of page-a-day study of the Babylonian Talmud will celebrate in the Phoenix Hebrew Academy auditorium.
A siyum marks the completion of study of a Jewish text, and HaShas essentially means the Talmud, with shas representing a Hebrew acronym for its six orders.
"We believe that there has never been a group of people that completed the Talmud (through Daf Yomi) in the state of Arizona before," said Rabbi Zvi Holland, of the Phoenix Community Kollel, which houses the group of students that started their Daf Yomi (or page-a-day) study of the Talmud on March 1, 2005 and will complete it on Aug. 1. The number of students fluctuates at about five or six, he said, pointing out that Daf Yomi is a seven-day-a-week activity that lasts seven-and-a-half years.
Also participating in the siyum is a group of five students led by Rabbi Yisroel Isaacs at the Jewish Enrichment Center, housed at Beth Joseph Congregation. "We've been doing it since 2010," Isaacs said.
During a siyum, "We actually finish the last little bit of the book we're studying and then start the same book over again," said Holland. "And generally it comes along with celebrations. ... This event is part of a network of events all over the world."
The community is invited to the local event, convened by the Orthodox Rabbinical Council of Greater Phoenix. It will run 4-7 p.m. at the academy, 515 E. Bethany Home Road. Dinner ($10, reservations required) will be served, and sponsorship opportunities are available. Call 602-277-8858.
The first hour will include a broadcast from Met Life Stadium in New Jersey, where about 100,000 people are expected to celebrate the siyum, sponsored by Agudath Israel of America.