Security tight as 88K Jews gather at MetLife stadium for religious event

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) - Tens of thousands of Jewish people congregated Wednesday at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey to celebrate the reading of the entire Talmud in an event called Siyum HaShas - and drew a heavy security presence after recent anti-Semitic attacks in the area.

The New Year's Day event celebrated the completion of the reading of the 2,711-page Babylonian Talmud, a process that takes 7 1/2 years. Similar events have recently been held in major cities around the globe, such as Mexico City, while others are scheduled in the next few weeks.

The Talmud contains discussions of Jewish law that guide every aspect of life.

Rabbi Yosef C. Golding, an organizer, told The Record newspaper that he worked with more than 50 law enforcement agencies on security for the event, and that more than 300 uniformed state police were to be in the stadium. The event was broadcast internationally, and New Jersey state police said there were no reports of security issues or problems related to the event as of late Wednesday afternoon.

Organizers estimated that 88,000 people attended the event. The last event at the stadium in 2012 drew about 90,000, organizers told The Record. The event is held every 7 1/2 years.

The New York City region has been rocked by recent attacks on Jews. On Dec. 10, two shooters targeted a kosher market in Jersey City, New Jersey, killing three people, and last weekend a man stabbed five people at the home of a rabbi in Monsey, New York.

There also have been several street assaults in New York City in recent weeks.

“I live in Pittsburgh and of course, just over a year ago, we had the massacre in Pittsburgh. We see what's been happening here, all of the anti-Semitic attacks last week and on the streets in New York," said Rabbi Daniel Wasserman of the Shaare Torah Congregation. "Whatever the reasons are, I'll leave that to the political scientists. But the reality is that whether it's ourselves or any ethnic group, we are here. We're proud. We're not going anywhere. And this is a perfect example of it.”

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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