PARIS (Mar. 7)
French-speaking Jewish communities from a dozen countries on Monday created an association to jointly promote Judaism and French culture.
The new body, organized under the auspices of the World Jewish Congress, will also serve as a link between the various communities in Algeria, Belgium, Canada, Israel, Luxembourg, Spain, Switzerland, Morocco, Portugal, Polynesia and Zaire.
The delegates were hosted by French Senator Michel Dreyfus-Schmidt, vice president of the WJC, who chaired the two-day meeting.
The organization is being promoted and aided by the French Council for the Promotion of the French Language, an official body headed by President Francois Mitterrand.
The new association will also be invited to take part in the forthcoming meeting of the heads of French-speaking countries scheduled to meet in May in Dakar, Senegal, according to the French delegate to the new Jewish group.
It is believed that this indirect backing by the French government will enable the Algerian Jewish community to take part in the work of the association.
The Algerian Jewish community, which is rarely seen or heard from these days, was represented at the Paris conclave by Roger Said. He said there are only about 250 Jews remaining in Algeria, out of the once 80,000-strong Jewish community that existed until Algeria’s independence from France.
The delegate from Morocco, Serge Berdugo, reported there are some 12,000 Jews left in Morocco, where all Jewish communities have resident rabbis and enjoy full religious and cultural lives.
The French minister in charge of the promotion of French, Alain Decaux, deplored the fact that Israel had stopped encouraging the use of French, despite the half-million Israelis of North African origin for whom French is their mother tongue.