...one giant leap backwards for any illusion of the frum world respecting women.
Builder bought tickets for me, the Things, and Queen Mom. We get to Metlife Stadium after passing through some major security theater (complete with bomb-sniffing dogs), and go to our gates. Yes, gates. While Builder entered through the main gate, we lowly females were shunted off to the side gates. Then we went up our separate escalators (yes, they had separate escalators for men and women) all the way up to the top. All the women had to go up to the top, top. And there was STILL a mechitza! Fortunately, once mincha was over, the mechitza curtain was pulled back so we could see everything on the Jumbo-Tron.
Most of the speakers discussed the miracle of the event. How Daf Yomi started out as an idea thrown out at an Agudah convention by a junior member in the twenties. How the first Siyum in Lublin had only a few thousand people in attendance. How we were almost completely destroyed by the Holocaust. How Daf Yomi grew to prominence after the war. And now, 89 years later, how there were celebrations all over the world. How there were 90,000 Jews at MetLife Stadium--and that was just the New York siyum. And Jews of all stripes too! Every kind, from Chassidish, to Yeshivish, to Modern Orthodox, and even over 5,000 baalei teshuvah! Every type of Jew was represented! Sort of. No mention, of course, to the Conservative, Reform, or secular populations who may have found daily Talmud study intriguing enough to dip into the Daf.
Meanwhile, the Things were getting restless, and Queen Mom was wavering between boredom and resentment. (The event started at 7:30, and ended at about 1:00 am). As the Siyum continued, speakers like and Rabbi Yissochar Frand and Rabbi Yisroel Meir Lau encouraged further study and review. And, of course, when the Daf was finished, everyone on the floor got up and danced! Also, there was a presentation of all the children (read: boys) who were also beginning to learn the Daf. And, of course, some waxing rhapsodic about the role of women in all of this. For after all, we must receive our nod. From up in the balcony, we heard all about our importance in encouraging our men, in staying home with the kids, in pushing our husbands out the door at 5:00 am so that they could learn the Daf. But what of our learning? Or is Builder the odd exception in that he actually goes over the Daf with his wife?
After Chazzan Helfgott's rendition of Kel Malei Rachamim, it was time to head out ahead of the crowd. Builder joined us at the car about 45 minutes later. When he found out where we were sitting, he was incensed. (Builder was one of the fortunate souls on the floor.) He was furious that he had a good seat, while our tickets cost the same and were so far away.
Will I be there in 2020? I don't know. There will have to be some changes made.