Last in a series:
The long awaited Usifa finally arrived last night at CitiField. Over 40,000 Orthodox Jews, ranging from Yeshivish to Chassidic, gathered in a unified, dignified manner to draw awareness, and to find solutions to the onslaught of technology on today's youth.
The vehicular traffic to the stadium was abnormally heavy, as myriads of attendees chartered buses, arranged carpools, or simply drove to the Queens destination. A strong police presense was felt, as hundreds of officers patrolled the vicinity afoot, in squad cars, in addition to several choppers overhead.
The picture perfect weather was far more conducive for ball-playing than listening to speeches, but no one minded the absolute glorious sunshine which bathed the garden-green-grass, a strong contrast to the black and white clad attendees who graced the stands.
Congestion on the vicinity roads probably delayed the procedings, but approximately 7:15 PM the program began with Mincha recited B'rov Am.
Organizers seemingly made an effort to include an international array of speakers, with Jerusalem, Montreal and Antwerp thrown in the mix.
As I assumed, Rabbi Wachsman of Monsey spoke. In fact he spoke several times throughout the evening. I was very impressed with his speech(es), particularly the content and the pathos in delivery. In fact, with the exception of Rav Mattisyahu Salomon (his beautiful British delivery), I can't say that I appreciated any of the other speeches. Now that may be due to the fact that the other speakers spoke primarily in Yiddish, but I sensed that the crowd simply did not react as well to the other talks.
Additionally, Rav Wachsman addressed the media, a topic that was ignored by the others.
I'm sure it was a huge balancing act of the organizers, who should speak? what language? how long? so many difficulties, yet the end result was a huge Kiddush Hashem as a sold-out CitiField is a rarity.
Highlights included Davening together B'Achdus for Mincha and Maariv. [What I haven't been able to figure out, is why there were various break-away minyanim, some even running simultaneously to the main one.] Being Mekabel Ol Malchus Shamayim with thousands of others was also uplifting and the spontaneous singing of V'Taher Libeinu in unison was also a defining moment.
There were no super surprises. Other than the unexpected telephone Psak of Rav Wosner and some rare public appearances of various Rebbes and Roshei Yeshiva, the gathering was mostly predictable.
A really big annoyance was the constant roaring of Jetliners overhead from the nearby airports. Better let the roar come from the appreciative crowd or via the speakers from the "speakers".