Group Visits Mexico, Panama, Paris and Antwerp in Advance of the Siyum HaShas
Paris and Antwerp
With preparations for the upcoming 13th Global Siyum HaShas well underway, the excitement for this monumental kiddush Sheim Shamayim has gone international, with a delegation of Agudas Yisroel representatives visiting Mexico, Panama, France and Belgium.
“We met with these various kehillos to invite them to the Global Siyum HaShas,” said Shmuel Yosef Rieder, member of the Agudah’s Board of Trustees, “and to have them join in the Torah study initiatives – specifically the Daf Yomi Chaburah program, Chavrei HaSiyum, and Masmidei HaSiyum – that have been launched under the direction of the Moetzes Gedolah Hatorah of Agudas Yisroel.”
This endeavor to reach out to Jewish communities across the globe was undertaken under the direction of the Siyum HaShas Executive Committee members, Shloime Werdiger, Dr. Dudie Diamond, Hashi Hertzka, Yatti Weinreb and Duvi Gross.
“The greetings we received in the various locales we visited were unreal,” related Rabbi Naftali Miller, Agudas Yisroel’s National Director of Development. “We were treated like royalty, and the excitement of lomdei Daf Yomi and lomdei Torah from around the world who will be participating in the Siyum HaShas was invigorating.”
The first visit was to Mexico City, where the delegates – including Rabbi Moshe Matz, Regional Director of Agudah of Florida, and Mr. Eli Rieder, Siyum HaShas Committee Member – reaffirmed and strengthened the ties between the Mexican Jewish community and Agudas Yisroel.
“This trip recognized the close connection that the Agudah has with the Mexican community,” remarked Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, Executive Vice President of Agudas Yisroel. “We still remember with appreciation the hundreds of people from Mexico who joined us at the last Siyum HaShas.”
There is a very large, vibrant, and strong frum community in Mexico, as well as Mexican Jews who are strongly affiliated with the frum community. The community as a whole welcomed the Agudah delegation with a packed itinerary, showcasing the community’s Torah and chesed projects, including the local shuls, yeshivos, and Bais Yaakovs.
The delegates met with one of the chief rabbis of Mexico, Rav Shlomo Tawil, Rosh Kehillas Maged David, who expressed his enthusiastic support for Agudas Yisroel’s programs.
Mr. Eli Tussie, a member of the Mexican Jewish community, is a son of Rav Mordechai Tussie, who leads a kehillah in Mexico, and a grandson of Rav Moshe Tussie, who has opened 22 kollelim in Mexico, in addition to another 35 worldwide.
“More than 25 leaders of Mexican mosdot filled out forms on the spot committing to take on Agudah programs in their own organizations,” said Mr. Tussie. “Im yirtzeh Hashem, in the coming weeks and months ahead, there will be many more. We hope to keep sharing ideas both ways with our friends from North America, the wonderful leaders of Agudas Yisroel. With Hashem’s help, more than 500 guests from Mexico will be part of the upcoming Siyum HaShas.”
The visit to Mexico culminated in Agudah’s major presentation to community leaders, attended by over 50 roshei mosdos, principals, roshei kollelim and community leaders. The event was organized by local askanim, including family members of the late Mexican Jewish leader, Marcos Katz z”l. The group heard about the programs and initiatives of the Agudah to promote increased learning in the spirit of Daf Yomi.
Two weeks after the trip to Mexico, the Agudah delegation was back on the road, visiting Panama, Paris and Antwerp.
In Panama, the delegation met with the chief rabbi, Rav David Peretz, with whom they discussed the Siyum HaShas and the related learning initiatives. Then they visited various local institutions, including Yeshiva Har Sinai, Talmud Torah of Panama, Academia Hebrea Panama, Instituto Alberto Einstein, Shevet Ahim Youth, and Hatzolah.
In the evening, the delegation, including Rabbis Moshe Matz, Shmuel Yosef Rieder and Naftali Miller, met with representatives of the communal organizations.
“The chizuk we received from meeting with the Agudah delegation was powerful,” related Eli Abraham, a member of the Panamanian kehillah. “The impact of their visit will be felt for a long time, as their ideas and initiatives will be implemented, increasing the level and scope of limud haTorah in our community.”
The next overseas trip for the Agudah group – joined by Shai Markowitz, Director of Chavrei HaSiyum – was to Antwerp, for the convention of the Conference of European Rabbis (CER), with the participation of over 200 rabbonim, led by CER head Rav Pinchos Goldschmidt. Shmuel Yosef Rieder spoke to the rabbis about the Siyum HaShas programming, and packets with information – in English, Hebrew, and French – were handed out.
On the second day of the two-day visit, the group took a train to Paris, where they met with askan Yoachim Cohen and others, who gave them a tour of the yeshiva ketana, followed by a meeting with five dozen members of the community, including forty rabbonim. At this gathering, the first of its kind in that city, the discussion focused on spreading Torah in France and finding new ways to accomplish that goal.
During the visit, the Paris communal representatives were addressed by the Novominsker Rebbe, Rav Yaakov Perlow, Rosh Agudas Yisroel, in an address arranged by Dr. Dudie Diamond. The rebbe, speaking live from New York via two-way video teleconference, expressed that unity among Klal Yisroel that comes through Torah is the greatest form of achdus.
The Agudah delegation has plans to visit Argentina, Brazil and other cities in South America and beyond in an effort to invite the members of those communities to participate in the Siyum HaShas and to implement the Agudah’s powerful learning programs among their populaces.
Three of the major initiatives that have been undertaken to increase Torah learning before and after the Siyum HaShas are as follows:
1) The Daf Yomi Chaburah program establishes new Daf Yomi shiurim and reinvigorates existing ones using an innovative model that increases engagement and makes it easier for people to stay with Daf Yomi long-term. Making each chaburah its own self-contained unit, where the members are close with each other, where the families celebrate simchos together, and where people can feel part of a group, is key to promoting the learning of Daf Yomi to those who have never learned it before.
2) Chavrei HaSiyum encourages adults – groups of relatives, shuls, coworkers, and yeshiva alumni – to take on a communal learning goal and finish it in time for the Siyum HaShas. “Making spectators into mesaymim” is the program’s tagline and it has already been adopted successfully in many communities.
3) Masmidei HaSiyum encourages children to also be mesayemim at the Siyum HaShas, learning Mishnayos so that they will be participants at MetLife Stadium.
These three initiatives were excitedly embraced by every group visited by the Agudah delegation.
“These visits served not only as an invitation to these communities to join us at the Global Siyum HaShas on January 1st at MetLife Stadium,” explained Shmuel Yosef Rieder. “It was to meet the leaders of the community – the rabbonim, roshei yeshiva, and askanim – to introduce these new programs that we were encouraged to spread by the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah. The response we received demonstrated the enthusiasm with which these undertakings are being implemented so beautifully in kehillos the world over. After all is said and done, that is what the Siyum HaShas is all about – increasing the learning of Torah.” Please visit thesiyum.org for information and updates regarding the upcoming Siyum HaShas, or text SIYUM to 313131. If you would like to join Chavrei HaSiyum or for general inquiries about the Siyum HaShas, email firstname.lastname@example.org.