An immense Kiddush Hashem took place on Wednesday evening as law enforcement officials witnessed firsthand the derech eretz and simchah with which the crowd of nearly 100,000 Yidden conducted themselves at the Siyum HaShas at New Jersey’s Met Life Stadium. Chief Christopher Trucillo of the New Jersey Transit System shared with Misaskim the positive impression his troopers had of the event, many of whom joined his force after the 9/11 terror attacks. Several reported that this was the first time people came over to them before and after an event to thank them for their services.
Tremendous hakaras hatov is due to the law-enforcement community, including the Joint Terrorist Task Force (JTTF), the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the New Jersey State Police, emergency response teams and transit officials, all of whom demonstrated extreme vigilance. Indeed, Misaskim worked with more than 70 agencies who spent months planning and coordinating security measures for what would turn out to be a capacity crowd
There were several situations during the event that appeared suspicious in the eyes of law enforcement that were immediately addressed. In several instances, buses traveling to the event were escorted by police. Law-enforcement indeed did as they vowed — to do their utmost to secure the event.
The hundreds of New Jersey state troopers who worked the event had participated in cultural training to help them better understand what to expect. Some of them had to travel up to six hours to the stadium to report for duty that day. When it was over, troopers told Misaskim volunteers that “they were proud to be part of this celebration.”
A command center stationed on the third level of the stadium served as the eyes and ears of the security effort. From there, commanding officers and other leadership personnel guided their teams on the field. From that vantage point they were able to hear the entire program and they appeared to be thoroughly impressed. One officer even picked up a sefer that was distributed at the event. After hearing about the history of the siyum hashas and learning what the event was all about he commented to a Misaskim volunteer, “Rabbi, is this the Talmud? I’d like to start learning it now.”
Approximately 200 Hatzolah volunteers with all the necessary equipment were also at the stadium. Working side by side with the Emergency Medical Task Force for the State of New Jersey, they attended to about 100 minor incidents.
Although travelers faced some major traffic delays on their way to Met Life, officials did their utmost to address the problems in an efficient and professional manner. The traffic was caused by several factors that included rainy weather, rush hour, and a fire in a nearby tunnel. The transit system reported that they moved approximately 10,000 passengers to and from the stadium without any incidents.
As soon as the weather cleared and it was safe enough to fly, Lieutenant, Col. Ed Setnar and the Department of Transportation Commissioner went up in a helicopter. They spent over an hour directing traffic to ease the bottlenecking on the roadways and help people reach the stadium by closing and opening up the highways as needed. When the Siyum was over, officials shut down the western spur of the New Jersey Turnpike so that there were six lanes in each direction leading out of the stadium.
Col. Joseph R. Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, whose department is starting to gear up for the Super Bowl in 2014 at the Met Life Stadium, said that they are expecting a lot of noise and action from excited fans during the game. He told Misaskim representatives that then he will be sure to take a moment to reflect on how orderly, calm and joyous the Siyum Hashas was.