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Where Joseph Sitruk was he most himself ? On Monday night, when he gave, almost every week that God has given his teaching to the young people, in the synagogue, crowded the street from the Victory ? Or when he haranguait the crowd during his Yom Limud, these mass gatherings of le Bourget, where he invited all his community into a sort of fete was fervent and warm ? Or simply family, in the midst of his children – nine – when he lit the candles of Hanukkah ?
Death on 25 September at age 71, he takes with him many mysteries. Joseph Sitruk was a jewish intellectual, but hated by the jewish intellectuals. Charismatic, modern, but confused with orthodoxy the most archaic. Drive is insatiable – doting of the Talmud as much as automobile magazines – but also a man of the field, and team captain. Attached to the institutions are secular but vitupéré for his fundamentalism. Preaching the dialogue between the religions, but rubbing quite a bit, if not for a meeting at the Elysée palace or a memorial ceremony, to his peers, catholic, protestant, or muslim. As if he was convinced that judaism had to be always more integrated in the French society, but also cultivate its isolation and its superiority as a chosen people.
Born on October 16, 1944 in Tunis, was trained in Strasbourg, first chief rabbi of Marseille, france, Joseph Sitruk was elected grand rabbi of France for the first time in 1987, re-elected in 1994, and then on June 17, 2001. He was accused of having rewritten the constitution to create a sort of mandate to life, incompatible with the spirit of the rabbinate. But it’s a little more than three septenates, it will have been the figure most symbolic of all the mutations of the jewish religious community, of its vitality feverish, his orthodoxy ever more stringent, the requirement of the study, as its internal conflicts, always at the edge of the break, finally, from its proximity unconditionally with Israel.
In France, there are more today a free square in the jewish schools and the community owes rabbi builder. Only financial constraints prevented him inaugurated still more synagogues and community centers. To the great options of the religious life (cashrout, marriages, conversions), supported by a beth din (rabbinical court) sorted on the measure, Joseph Sitruk was an uncompromising absolute, hidden beneath an eternal smile and the art of seduction, by gesture and a verb always peppered with references to talmudic, that belonged only to him.
This born leader was also a spiritual one. Couche-tard, he was studying until the early hours of the night, but every morning he was the first to the office in his synagogue in the parisian suburb of Neuilly, Hauts-de-Seine. In family, in travel, at the office, in the synagogue, the prayer and the meditation of his book of Psalms he was reading too much Sartre, Balzac, or Philo of Alexandria – served him as breathing. We saw it stop and its driver in the middle of the street at the time of mynha (prayer of the afternoon). For hours, in the synagogue or in the public rooms, he was able to comment on passages from the Torah, quoting his masters in Hebrew as well as sayings in yiddish. Under the applause, there was a day this formula : ” The rabbi is a lamplighter. There is, among young people especially, a huge need for spirituality, and I carry the flame to where it is needed the most. “
His enemies were a kind of “télévangéliste” american or, worse, a ” leader of a sect “. Invective the chagrinait more than she worried about, or made him lose his serenity. Joseph Sitruk reminded over and over again that the danger of judaism was its extreme fragmentation and its verbal violence. The issue of leadership jewish (the spokesperson of the community, should it be a religious or a lay person ?) the opposite time and again, against her will, officials consistoriaux as Jean Kahn or Moses Cohen. the ” The jewish history has more than three thousand years and it has always proved its ability, as some were too far away, to return to its point of balance, “ gave the World November 2, 1996, about these controversies repeatedly.
Defender enamored of the secular Republic
was there a reprimand to intervene on all subjects and not be confined – as all rabbis to study and the privy council, to write little, and to flee the intellectuals, he answered that he had the confidence of the most eminent rabbis of the United States, Israel, France, and that his place was, first, to his followers. A Sarcelles or in the 16e arrondissement. In Marseille, or in the Trail. In his hometown of Neuilly, when a class of kindergarten being held hostage by a deranged man, he proposes to the minister of the interior, when Charles Pasqua, and the mayor, Nicolas Sarkozy, to take the place of the children. He is at the bar in the trial of Touvier and Papon. He rushes to Israel when the Scuds the iraqis are falling from the sky, to Moscow to open the first chief rabbinate in Cairo to save a jewish cemetery threatened by a highway.
It is in the debate on secularism and the fight against anti-semitism that Joseph Sitruk gave its measurement. Defender enamored of the secular Republic, he lamented, the place of religion is not well adjusted to the public space. It argued for that school exams take place on Saturday, Sunday, or a day of religious festival, for a tour of the national election does not fall on a day of yom kippur. A controversy ensued in 1993. the ” When we wear religious signs, is it commits the French company ? “, was interviewed there during the lengthy debate which followed, among others, the case of the veil. It inquiètait the deletion of biblical references in the public discourse, and especially teaching, who established, however, values such as equality, the rejection of intolerance and racism.
Each wave of anti-semitism, each campaign of the national Front did step up. In 1991, when broke out the case of Carpentras, he was the first – with Pierre Joxe, minister of the interior – in the cemetery where a grave and a corpse of the jews had been tragically desecrated. This is the ” filthy beast “ that is reborn after fifty years, is appalled-he, ” because that recur throughout the xenophobia, racism, anti-semitism, and all of these perversions that we still dare to call humanism “. The man with faith of steel did not lose for all that, his humour, his kindness and his hope in a God and a jewish people ” who saves sometimes the Torah, but to ignore that the Torah is himself short in the back.”
Holland salutes the memory of a ” defining figure in judaism French “
François Hollande has hailed Sunday the memory of Joseph Sitruk. the ” the president of the Republic has learned with sadness the death of Joseph Sitruk after a long illness, written to the Elysée. in Man of dialogue, a defender of secularity, he was a major figure in judaism French. “
” throughout its rich existence, Joseph Sitruk has been, not only a man of study and of faith, intellectual-a scholar, a builder of works of the jewish community, but also an actor in the dialogue with all religions, a defender of the values of the Republic, and a tireless fighter in the struggle against racism and anti-semitism “, welcomed to his side the minister of the interior, Bernard Cazeneuve.
Alain Juppe spoke of ” a great man of dialogue “, and Nicolas Sarkozy ” a great figure, who left a lasting impression on judaism in French.