Here's something you don't see every day; the new Meadowlands stadium filled to the rafters on Wednesday... with Orthodox Jews. They were part of a Talmud-reading club that goes through a page a day, covering the Jewish commentary in a 7.5 year period.
It was a graduation ceremony of sorts for the page-a-day study program, known as Daf Yomi, which has grown exponentially over the decades. In addition to the 90,000 who took part at the East Rutherford stadium Wednesday night, tens of thousands of others watched via satellite broadcasts in more than 80 cities in 15 countries.
That's the second time this summer that a big New York area stadium was packed for an Orthodox event; the Mets' new stadium was used for an anti-Internet-temptation rally in May, which had a Haradi Promise Keepers' feel to it.
As more liberal Jews tend to drift away from the faith and are outbred by the Haradi (the polite name for what are often called "ultra-Orthodox"), the face of the Jewish community is changing. The Haradi are more conservative on social issues and have been more Republican, but also are very old-school on the role of women; women weren't even allowed at the Internet rally and were in a screened-off-section of the stadium on Wednesday.
In the years to come, that patriarchal streak might create some problems, as devout Jews and Muslims may both be to the right of American norms on women; as much as they might be at each other's throats over the Holy Land, they might wind up making common cause on some family issues.
Anyways, back to the big shindig in Jersey... That's a level of devotion that we don't see in too many Christians. I've heard of some comprehensive Bible studies that can get almost to the level of our Torah fans here, but this is one where one can only admire their stick-to-it-tiveness.