March 1, 2005 | Issue 19

Protesters Rally Over Lack of Food at Siyum

article pic EVERYWHERE BUT BROOKLYN, NEW YORK — [TheKnish.com] Hundreds of thousands gathered in cities all over the world to protest the general lack of refreshments at the Eleventh Siyum of the Daf Yomi. Many attended under the guise of actually coming for the Siyum, but no one was fooled.

The Siyum Hashas was established to help thousands of people celebrate the culmination of seven-and-a-half years of being behind on the daf. The first siyum was held in black-and-white in the Philharmonic Zalle (whatever that is) in Lodz on Tu B'shvat in 1930, where, needless to say, no fruit was served. It has since grown to the extent that over a hundred thousand people would attend, largely thanks to it only being held once or twice per decade.
President Bush on his way to the Siyum Hashas President Bush on his way to the Siyum Hashas

To recognize over seven years of hard work, partygoers celebrate by listening to speeches, dancing in place and fighting for armrests with people of questionable dental hygiene. Satellite hookups ensure that everyone, including the rabbis, will be dancing in place at the same time, which, admittedly, does help. The hookups are punctuated with shots of people in the audience not realizing that the camera is on them until the person next to them pats them on the shoulder, at which point they smile and point at themselves onscreen. The hookups also utilize a tape delay, in case any of the rabbis experiences a bekisheh malfunction.

The eleventh siyum, held primarily at Madison Square Garden and Continental Airlines Arena (both of which are usually assur to go to, according to a poll of everyone on the dais), featured numerous speeches on the merits of Daf Yomi, each including a basic summary of everyone else’s speech, so that no one could remember who’d given the original. “I figured no one else would speak about it,” one of the Rabbis was quoted as saying. Nobody spoke about the parsha, which, for your information, was called “Vayakhel.”

Most of the speeches were given in English, peppered with the occasional Yiddish speech to give everyone a chance to read their siyum booklets, which seemed to be devoted to food companies that sponsored the siyum just short of providing some actual food. This reporter has finished a single perek in yeshiva to more food than that. Granted, it took longer, but still. The lack of food was the theme of most of the Yiddish speeches, which went on for much longer than the English ones. The speakers went on and on to illustrate how hungry they were getting. Or so we assume.

Organizers of the party, however, were quite defensive about the issue. “We completely forgot,” said Yisrael Agudah, founder of Agudas Yisrael. “We thought the sponsors would bring it.” He then pointed out the special kosher food sold on premises, illustrating that there are are only about five foods that all sects hold as kosher. And one of them is Twizzlers.

Writer

Pencil Mike Schmutter writes humor articles for TheKnish.com, as well as shopping lists for himself. He spends his days balancing a job, a family and an expensive comic book habit, all while trying to launch a writing career. He is also working on a novel that is going to portray the Golem as a superhero, thereby providing justification for everything, except for the family. You can contact Mike (really) at mschmutter@gmail.com. He currently needs eggs and laundry detergent.


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