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French Elect New Chief Rabbi

Joseph Sitruk, a 42-year-old Algerian-born ultra-Orthodox rabbi, was elected Chief Rabbi of France Sunday, succeeding Rene Sirat, who did not seek a second term. Sitruk will take office on Jan. 1, 1988.

Sitruk, who is Chief Rabbi of Marseilles, which has the largest Jewish community outside Paris, was elected by a 200-member General Assembly representing synagogues, religious communities and the Central Consistory, which administers Jewish religious foundations in France.

He won a majority on the first ballot over his only challenger, Rabbi Jacob Madar, who is expected to be elected Chief Rabbi of Paris when the local consistory meets next Sunday.

Although Sitruk advocates strict interpretation of all religious laws, he is reputed to be an outstanding administrator and community leader. He is credited with re-organizing the Marseilles Jewish community during his nine years as Chief Rabbi there.

The fact that Sitruk, Sirat and Madar are all of Algerian birth was seen here as an affirmation of the dominant role North African Jews now play in French Jewish community affairs.

It is believed that Sirat declined to stand for reelection because of personal differences with the head of the Central Consistory, Jean-Paul Elkan.

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