A six-continent simultaneous Web-cast Thursday marked the completion of a cooperative global initiative to learn the entire Talmud within the first 30-day mourning period for Charlotte Rohr, the matriarch of the philanthropic Rohr family who passed away Oct. 22.

The Talmud, which amounts to 2,711 double-sided pages of text when accompanied by its standard commentaries, takes seven years to complete by an individual learning one page a day.

Conceived and organized by the scholars of the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute, a leading provider of adult Jewish education courses, the effort drew the participation of more than 1,000 Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries from across the globe who divided up the landmark Jewish text among themselves.

Hundreds of friends joined the Rohr family on Thursday at Mrs. Rohr's synagogue, located in Bal Harbour, Fla., and known worldwide simply as The Shul, to mark the end of her shloshim, a mourning period lasting for 30 days after one's passing. According to Jewish law, a lesser period of mourning ensues afterward.

Charlotte Rohr's son, philanthropist George Rohr of New York, delivered a scholarly siyum, or completion, of the six tractates of Mishnah studied by the Bal Harbour community in memory of his mother. All eyes then turned to large video screens which alternatively displayed study groups gathered live at Jerusalem's Western Wall; in Sydney, Australia; Moscow; Johannesburg, South Africa; and Bogota, Colombia.

"We are gathered here together not in a physical sense of space, but rather in a conceptual and spiritual space," began Rabbi Shmuel Kaplan, regional director of Chabad-Lubavitch of Maryland and the emcee of the event, who participated from the Rohr JLI offices in Brooklyn, N.Y.

"The Talmud teaches us that through the children, the deceased parent remains very much alive," continued Rabbi Sholom Lipskar, spiritual leader of The Shul of Bal Harbour and the Rohr family's rabbi. "We need to take to heart the example of this very powerful woman who even in trying times always took care that her children should study Torah. Today, not only are her children knowledgeable, but they are actively educating others.

"She was so successful in imbuing her Jewish values that they now influence countless others."

In succession, a Chabad-Lubavitch emissary at each location finished a key tractate of the Talmud with words of scholarship, as well as proposed lessons to be applied to daily life. Thousands worldwide joined the ceremony via the live Internet hookup facilitated in part by Chabad.org.

At many moments during the program, emissaries reiterated the Rohr family's commitment to spreading Torah learning and helping Jews wherever they may be found.

"The Rohr family places the greatest emphasis on giving the opportunity to people to learn Torah," said Chief Rabbi of Russia Berel Lazar, director of Chabad-Lubavitch activities in the country.

"There is a stage in our life when we are [just] the children of our parents, who [themselves] are responsible to bring us into the world," said Shlomo Lorch, a past student president of the Chabad House serving Brandeis University and a current Rohr Scholar at the Mayanot Institute of Judaic Studies in Jerusalem.

"The Torah tells us that from [being] children, we need to become builders," continued Lorch during an exposition of a Talmudic passage. The goal "is not only to absorb knowledge for ourselves, but to be leaders in building and spreading Yiddishkeit."

In his scholarly completion of the tractate Tamid, in which the Talmud discusses the different songs sung daily by the Levites in the Holy Temple, Rabbi Yehoshua Binyamin Rosenfeld, chief Lubavitch emissary to Colombia and a close friend of the Rohr family, spoke in Spanish on the beginning verse of Psalm 92, "A song of praise for Shabbat." The Talmud explains that the verse should be read as referring to the World to Come when each day will be like Shabbat.

Flanked by Colombia's chief Ashkenazic and Sephardic rabbis, Rosenfeld discussed the apparent contradictions in the Talmud's interpretation, specifically the idea of the future being indicated by a verse speaking in the present tense. He cited a teaching from the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory, on how our anticipated bright future can help one sing even about a painful past.

Rosenfeld, the first Lubavitch emissary sponsored by the Rohrs, said that what made Charlotte Rohr so special was her faith and her constant optimistic view toward the future. A Holocaust survivor, she always exuded optimism and happiness. Rosenfeld related that she passed on her enduring faith, love of G‑d and passion for the Jewish people to all she came in contact with.

Memorial Through Learning

Rabbi Sholom Lipskar delivers words of Torah from The Shul of Bal Harbour.
Rabbi Sholom Lipskar delivers words of Torah from The Shul of Bal Harbour.
All agreed that it was only befitting to honor Rohr, whose family has taken on the support of numerous Torah learning initiatives throughout the globe, by learning the entire Talmud in her memory.

"We are gathered here at three in the morning," said Rabbi Nochum Schapiro, director of the Chabad House of the North Shore in the Sydney suburb of S. Ives, Australia. "Each time period has a spiritual energy connected with it. The time here is the time period to sleep, and on your side of the world [is the time of] studying Torah. Through the study of Torah we keep the world spiritually going."

In his rousing address, Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, vice chairman of Merkos L'Inyonei Chinuch, the education arm of Chabad-Lubavitch, and a very close fried of the Rohr family, stressed that Charlotte Rohr remains connected to Torah.

"Now is the time when your grandmother is responding to another currency, not of speech, but the currency of learning Torah," he explained. "Your mother and grandmother did not come to heaven alone, she came accompanied with hundreds of thousands of hours of Torah learning."

On behalf of the Lubavitch movement and the millions who benefit from Rohr-funded initiatives, Kotlarsky movingly conveyed blessings to the Rohr family patriarch, Sami Rohr, that he enjoy true pleasure and solace from his family and his good deeds.

On behalf of his father and his siblings, George Rohr expressed gratitude in return.

"When Rabbi Kotlarsky informed us shortly after my mother's passing that an ambitious goal was set to complete the study of the entire Talmud by today, and that the electronic sign-up sheet was oversubscribed within 24 hours, we were deeply moved by the outpouring of love that this represented," said Rohr. "We thank each and every one of you who participated in this enormous undertaking in memory of my mother.

"The realization that so much beautiful Torah has been learned on all six continents for the merit of my mother, is in a word, overwhelming," he continued. "May the merit of the study accompany my mother's soul in the world of everlasting life."