Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Charedi World

24 Cheshvan 5760 - November 3, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








Sponsored by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Produced and housed by

40,000 Jews at Torah Day in France

by Arnon Yaffeh, Paris

40,000 Jews from Paris and from France's small towns, flocked to the Torah Day convention held at the airport in La Bourge. The originator and life spirit behind this convention is the Chief Rabbi of France, Rabbi Yosef Sitrok.

The huge hanger, in which makeshift botei medrash, synagogues and family living rooms were set up, overflowed with visitors. The Jewish radio stations and secular Jewish organizations tried to dismiss the convention, and say that it was doomed to failure. But they were proven wrong, and throughout the day, Jews from all types of backgrounds -- religious, traditional and non-religious -- toured the stands, which focused on various Jewish themes.

Those who came also listened to shiurim, explanations, lectures and discussions headed by various rabbonim. This year, the main theme of the program was the importance of the Jewish family as the basis for a Torah life and for the preservation of Jewish identity, as opposed to the laws being promoted the modern state which induce family breakdown.

Rabbi Sitrok said that such massive, unprecedented flocking to a religious event proves that France's Jews thirst for Torah, and their yearning to unite under Torah's banner. Masses of people rose in honor of the roshei yeshiva from Eretz Yisroel, and in honor of the French rabbonim.

From the dais, roshei yeshiva from Eretz Yisroel urged the huge throng to set aside regular times for the study of Torah. In the main auditorium, pictures and photographs of the gedolei Yisroel from all times flanked the dais.

"For an entire day, you participated in programs to arouse you to study Torah," Rabbi Yitzchok Ezrachi one of the roshei yeshiva of the Mir, who had come to France for the convention, said. "If this arousal does not result in action, it will have been in vain. It is forbidden to lose the emotions inspired here, and they must be translated into action. Everyone must resolve to study Torah on a daily basis -- even for only half an hour. As we saw here, Torah is the only element which unites the Jewish people."

The rosh yeshiva of Or Elchonon, HaRav Moshe Mordechai Chodosh praised HaRav Sitrok, saying: "He arouses the spirit of Torah in France, and spreads love of Torah which has been which has been for lacking for so long in France." The chief Rabbi of Paris, HaRav Masas said: "The convention is a challenge to history. Fifty years ago, it was thought that the Jewish Nation had been wiped out. Who would have believed that France's Jews would one day demonstrate such warm appreciation of Torah and the gedolei haTorah. This convention proves the strength of the Jewish family in France, an the family's importance as a place in which to return to Torah."

The Foreign Minister of Israel, David Levi, flew to France from Washington for Torah Day, and praised French Jewry for preserving its identity, for returning to religion and tradition and for maintaining strong ties with Israel Beside him sat Israeli Ambassador to France ben Elishar.

The Israeli government must recognize the impact and influence of Orthodox Jewry in France. The success of Torah Day will refute the anti-chareidi propaganda of the non-Jews who assert that they are dangerous to French society, and are a threat to the liberal and the secular organizations.

According to Rabbi Segnior, who is responsible for of the relations between the Consistoire and the French government, the socialist government regards the development of the chareidi communities as a danger, due to the incitement of the left in Israel. At the convention, protests against the socialist mayor of the Nuaze la Sack (a suburb of east Paris), who is trying to destroy a mikveh and a synagogue, were heard.

Torah Day ended with a gala hachnosas sefer Torah celebration, in which thousands of Jews joined in the dancing and festivities.

All material on this site is copyrighted and its use is restricted.
Click here for conditions of use.