Taking a page from the Orthodox movement’s successful “Daf Yomi” or page-a-day Talmud study initiative, the chancellor of the Conservative movement’s Jewish Theological Seminary has triggered a discussion about Jewish learning for the non-Orthodox Jewish community.
The big stadium seemed to be levitating; looking up, framed against storm clouds, 90,000 Jews were on their feet, then were rising to their toes in unison, once, twice, three times, calling out loudly, “kadosh, kadosh, kadosh.” Some took out cell phones, calling those that that were not present, “you have to hear this,” holding phones in the air, to hear 90,000 call out the “Shema,” or answer “Yehay Shmay Rabba” to Kaddish.
The Talmud has been compared to the seas, for it is vast and deep and, like the oceans, there is no real beginning or end to the study of Shas (an acronym for the Talmud). Few among us have circumnavigated its 63 tractates and 2,711 double-sided and oversized pages. It can take days to fathom even a few lines, and so familiarity with the entirety of Shas had become rare over time, and several of the less popular tractates fell into obscurity.