Close to 500 people showed up for a July 22 day of learning in Montreal. Dubbed a "Torah Vigil for Israel," the third annual series of lectures had the local Jewish community exploring a new topic every hour.

Held at Chabad-Lubavitch of Queen Mary in the Canadian city's Cote des Neighes neighborhood, the talks covered a range of subjects, including a "roadmap to personal freedom," "the power of silence," and "struggling to be joyful." One lecture was titled, "It's not easy to be G‑d."

Renee Stakman, who literally spent the whole 13-hour day learning – there were breaks for prayer and refreshments – said she ended the day exhausted, but stimulated.

"I learned tremendously from the rabbis," said Stakman. "I am always interested in what they say, especially in regards to Israel."

Organizers attracted participants through newspaper advertisements highlighting the Talmud's dictum that Torah study will bring the world closer to ultimate peace.

"Israel is at a critical time of peril," explained Rabbi Ronnie Fine, co-director of the Chabad House and one of the event's speakers. He said that the impetus for the first program three years ago came with the Israeli government's evacuation of Jewish residents of the Gaza Strip. The Second Lebanon War came the following year. With tensions continuing in Israel, "this year, we thought it was a good thing to continue," he said.