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Opinion: Reaffirming Dirshu's Mission in France

Image: Opinion: Reaffirming Dirshu's Mission in France
French MP Meyer Habib (R) and Rabbi Shlomo Rozenstein pictured in Israel.

By    |   Friday, 26 May 2017 12:18 PM

There is no question that anti-Semitism is on the rise in Europe. We have sadly seen growing numbers of terroristic and anti-Semitic acts in France, leaving a frightened and demoralized Jewish community. The only way to keep the Jewish community in France — as well as other places throughout the world facing similar issues — is to engage the young who might otherwise turn away and to provide a strong Jewish education to them.

It is for this reason that I am so pleased to see Dirshu become a success in France. Dirshu, an international organization that promotes Jewish learning and for which I work, recently celebrated reaching its thousandth student in France. Active in the United States, Israel, Canada, France, and elsewhere, Dirshu has boots on the ground, educating young Jews in Torah and Talmud, giving them hope and courage during these distressing times. Dirshu provides the tools for young Jews to remain engaged with their religion and community, allowing them to connect with one another and with our traditions on a spiritual level.

While I have always believed in Dirshu’s mission, I was incredibly overwhelmed and humbled to recently have the opportunity to see Dirshu through the eyes of several French leaders. A delegation from Dirshu, led by Dirshu head Rabbi Dovid Hofstedter, recently took a trip to France to see the effects of a strong Jewish education firsthand.

Our party began the trip in our biblical homeland, Israel. There, we met with Meir Habib, a member of France’s National Assembly who represents French citizens living abroad. I have long admired Habib, a man who went into politics to make a difference for his home country of France and for his many countrymen, both Jews and non-Jews, while maintaining his Jewish identity. In 2013, Habib became the first ever Orthodox Jew to be elected to the French National Assembly.

In our meeting, Habib thanked Rabbi Hofstedter for all he and Dirshu have done to keep France’s Jewish community involved and robust. Just as we believe at Dirshu, Habib expressed that, in this time of uncertainty and even fear, it is vital for French Jews to feel the deep connection to the Jewish sources and Jewish identity. We discussed the important work that Dirshu is doing in France. While there are half a million Jews in France, many have never been immersed in the traditions and laws that have kept the Jewish people a cohesive community for millennia. But, "Learning Torah and Talmud with Dirshu connects these young persons to each other and to our community, giving them a sense of identity," Habib said. According to Habib, despite recent anti-Semitic acts, the Jewish community in France is experiencing growth.

Rabbi Shlomo Rozenstein is Dirshu's director of public affairs.

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Dirshu, an international organization that promotes Jewish learning and for which I work, recently celebrated reaching its thousandth student in France.
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2017-18-26
Friday, 26 May 2017 12:18 PM
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