The French Jewish community intends to create a rabbinical seminar to train rabbis for communities in Eastern Europe, particularly those of the former Soviet bloc.
The Consistoire Central, the body responsible for the religious needs of French Jews, made the announcement this week.
Explaining the need for the new program, Paris Chief Rabbi Alain Goldmann, also of the Paris Consistoire, an affiliate of the Consistoire Central, said, “In Warsaw, the rabbi in charge of the community is an [older] Israeli of Polish origin. He will soon retire. In Moscow, the rabbi comes also from Israel. In Romania, there are almost no rabbis at all.”
Goldmann added: “We know there is a strong demand for religious leaders in all those countries of the former Communist bloc. We think it is the duty of the French community, the most important one in Western Europe, to provide for the needs of the Jews of the rest of our continent.”
The chief rabbi said a search would begin for candidates in all the countries of the region and that their training would take place at the Paris Rabbinical Seminar, which ordains about 10 rabbis annually.
The Council of Europe, an assembly of 21 European parliamentary democracies, is expected to provide partial funding for the program as part of a larger project to train leaders for Eastern Europe.