Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Charedi World

6 Elul 5759 - August 18, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Marseilles Kollel Seeks to Expand

by S. Fried

An announcement appearing in Yated Ne'eman attracted our attention. The announcement, inserted by the chareidi community of Marseilles, invited Israeli French-speaking avreichim to join and strengthen their kollel.

Leaders of the Marseilles Jewish community inform us that plans for the kollel are well under way. The kollel is to be directed by an Israeli talmid chochom, HaRav Eliezer Klein. The kollel is planned to open in Elul, and the community hopes that it will become a beacon of Torah for the entire community.

The Jewish community of France has known periods of greatness, beginning with Rashi, Rabbenu Tam, and up until our times, when it merited the presence of HaRav Chaim Yitzchok Chaiken and HaRav Gershon Leibman.

In 5720, the Jewish community began to expand significantly. A major wave of Jewish immigrants arrived from the North African countries of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. Many of these Jews, choosing to immigrate to France rather than to Israel, began to lose the ties to Yiddishkeit that were associated by them with their country of origin. Assimilation began at a very rapid rate. It appeared that the majority of these Jews would be lost to the Jewish people.

In 5723, Maran the Steipler Gaon charged HaRav Yaakov Cohen with the sacred task of establishing a network of Torah institutions and kollelim in France. At first these were in Strasbourg, but gradually they were transferred to Marseilles, a city in southern France. After a few years, the kollel founded a significant network of Torah and educational institutions.

Today they are called, collectively, the Ma'ayenei HaTorah Institutions, and children go there to learn and to grow with yiras Shomayim. There are at least two hundred students in the boys schools, and a similar number of students attend the girlsıschools.

Marseilles boasts a number of fine Torah communities, a yeshiva ketana, a seminary for girls, two yeshivos for ba'alei teshuvah, and a chareidi school. A beis din, led by a well known dayan from Eretz Yisroel, was recently founded in Marseilles, and the city is on its way to becoming France's spiritual center.

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