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A Moderate is Elected to Head Council of French Jewish Groups

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Jean Kahn, a 59-year-old atorney and community leader, on Sunday was overwhelmingly elected president of CRIF, the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France.

Kahn, who was vice president of CRIF and head of the Jewish community of Strasbourg, succeeds Theo Klein, who had served the maximum two terms allowed in office.

Kahn is regarded as the most moderate of the three leading candidates he defeated–all of them lawyers.

He said he would do his best to mend relations between the French Jewish community and President Francois Mitterrand.

Those ties soured badly after French Jews angrily reproached Mitterrand for inviting Yasir Arafat to Paris. They demonstrated en masse when the French president received the Palestine Liberation Organization leader at the Elysee Palace on May 2.

CRIF, an umbrella organization, has been compared to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in the United States. It is composed of representatives of some 40 groups — virtually all of the main Jewish welfare, political, Zionist, cultural and sports organizations and associations in France.

The other main important body in the French Jewish community is the Jewish Consistory, a religious organization that walked out of CRIF two years ago in a dispute with Klein. It might rejoin CRIF now that it has a new president.

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