No contest

Ed Sheeran is popular — but Talmud more so, per stadium attendance

British singer-songwriter came close to setting attendance record at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey this week; a 2012 celebration of Talmud study had him beat

Ed Sheeran performs on NBC's 'Today' at Rockefeller Plaza on June 6, 2023 in New York City. (Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images via AFP)
Ed Sheeran performs on NBC's 'Today' at Rockefeller Plaza on June 6, 2023 in New York City. (Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images via AFP)

JTA — British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran came close to setting the attendance record at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey on Sunday, drawing a crowd of 89,106 concertgoers.

The current record-holder? A celebration of Talmud study in 2012 that filled the seats and stands with 93,000 people, most of them Orthodox men.

That gathering, called the Siyum HaShas, marked the completion of the seven-and-a-half year cycle of Daf Yomi, the practice of studying one double-sided page of Babylonian Talmud per day.

The 2012 ceremony re-entered social media discourse this week due to a tweet from PopCrave, an entertainment news company with 1.4 million followers on Twitter. Its tweet, posted early on Monday, read, “Ed Sheeran breaks the all-time attendance record at MetLife Stadium with a reported crowd of 89,000 people. It is his biggest US show to date.”

The tweet has been viewed nearly six million times, but hours after it went up, a box of text appeared below it fact-checking its claim and citing the Siyum HaShas attendance. The text feature, known as a Community Note, provides context to tweets that contain inaccurate or misleading information. They began appearing on the platform in 2021 and are written by users who apply to write them. A note will show up below a tweet if enough other contributors rate it as helpful.

The Community Note tacked onto the PopCrave tweet was posted just before 10 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time and was written by a contributor identified on the platform with the alias “Futuristic Mountain Seagull.”

“The all-time attendance record for MetLife Stadium of 93,000 people was set by the 12th Siyum HaShas on August 1, 2012,” the note reads. It includes a link to the Wikipedia page for MetLife Stadium. Sheeran’s attendance figure was reportedly the largest ever for a concert at the stadium.

Those who participate in Daf Yomi all study the same page of Talmud every day, and it takes roughly seven and a half years to get through all 2,711 pages of the rabbinic code of law. The most recent Siyum HaShas celebration took place in January 2020, also at MetLife Stadium, and the next one is scheduled for June 2027.

Women have been admitted to the event since 1990, and sit in a separate section from the rest of the attendees. The Siyum HaShas is organized by Agudath Israel, an umbrella organization for ultra-Orthodox Jews headquartered in New York City.

Orthodox Twitter users reacted to the note with a mixture of amusement and pride.

“As one of the 93,000 attendees of the Siyum HaShas at @MetLifeStadium in 2012 (and 2020), I officially endorse this Community Note,” Joel Petlin, the superintendent of schools in the Hasidic New York town of Kiryas Joel, wrote on Twitter. “Sorry @edsheeran, @AgudahNews still has the record.”

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