Upcoming Siyum at Touhill celebrates process of Jewish learning


For the last couple of months, Jimmy Fendelman and his family have been working through the Mishna Sukkah , from the Talmud.

Fendelman, his wife, Elana, and his two children, Julia, 6, and Jacob, 8, have set aside time to read through the text as part of the Jewish Unity Live project.

The national project is held by community Kollels and Jewish educational organizations to promote the study and knowledge of Jewish texts. Jewish families or individuals sign up to complete a Jewish text or course. This year, the project aims to engage 10,000 people to participate in the reading of a text.

Locally, the St. Louis Kollel has had over 400 individuals join in the project. St. Louis Kollel has organized a Siyum (Hebrew for “completion”) to celebrate Jewish learning in the community.

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The Jewish Unity Siyum will take place at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 18 at the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center on the University of Missouri-St. Louis campus. The event will feature a concert by Elli Kranzler, the Shliach Tzibbur at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale in New York, a recording artist who has performed across the United States, and in Israel and England.

Rabbi Sroy Levitansky, associate dean of St. Louis Kollel, said the idea for Jewish Unity Live came about with the large celebration in March 2005 marking the 11th completion of the Daf Yomi, or the cycle of reading the 2,711 page Talmud one page a day over seven and a half years, which began in 1923.

Over 100,000 Jews came together that day to celebrate the completion of the Daf Yomi .

“Some organizations said ‘why isn’t this something we could bring out to the broader community?” Levitansky said.

The annual Jewish Unity Live, now in its third year, was developed to engage individuals in the study of Jewish texts and celebrate Jewish learning.

Fendelman, who has studied regularly at the St. Louis Kollel’s lunchtime learning programs for the past five years, said his family’s participation in Jewish Unity Live has been extremely positive.

“This has been a great thing to do as a family,” he said. “We picked a text with Hebrew that’s fairly easy to read, and the kids just love it.”

Levitansky said the siyum is intended to reach as broad an audience as possible. “Many people have never studied Talmud, and they can’t relate to it, but we all can relate to studying a little more Jewishly and celebrating our accomplishments that we’ve done,” he said.

“It’s a way of bringing everyone together to celebrate Jewish learning — the learning that goes on through the Kollel, as well as the learning that each and every individual does,” Levitansky said.

The siyum will also honor Rabbi Levitansky and his wife, Chumi, for their tenth year of service in the St. Louis Jewish community.

Tickets for the Jewish Unity Siyum are $25, and may be purchased by calling the Touhill box office at 314-516-4949 or by visiting the Web site, www.touhill.org. For more information, or to sign up for the Jewish Unity Siyum, call the St. Louis Kollel at 314-726-6047, email [email protected], or visit www.jewishunitylive.com for more information on the national project.