40,000 Jews from Paris and from France's small towns, flocked
to the Torah Day convention held at the airport in La Bourge.
The originator and life spirit behind this convention is the
Chief Rabbi of France, Rabbi Yosef Sitrok.
The huge hanger, in which makeshift botei medrash,
synagogues and family living rooms were set up, overflowed
with visitors. The Jewish radio stations and secular Jewish
organizations tried to dismiss the convention, and say that
it was doomed to failure. But they were proven wrong, and
throughout the day, Jews from all types of backgrounds --
religious, traditional and non-religious -- toured the
stands, which focused on various Jewish themes.
Those who came also listened to shiurim, explanations,
lectures and discussions headed by various rabbonim. This
year, the main theme of the program was the importance of the
Jewish family as the basis for a Torah life and for the
preservation of Jewish identity, as opposed to the laws being
promoted the modern state which induce family breakdown.
Rabbi Sitrok said that such massive, unprecedented flocking
to a religious event proves that France's Jews thirst for
Torah, and their yearning to unite under Torah's banner.
Masses of people rose in honor of the roshei yeshiva
from Eretz Yisroel, and in honor of the French rabbonim.
From the dais, roshei yeshiva from Eretz Yisroel urged
the huge throng to set aside regular times for the study of
Torah. In the main auditorium, pictures and photographs of
the gedolei Yisroel from all times flanked the
"For an entire day, you participated in programs to arouse
you to study Torah," Rabbi Yitzchok Ezrachi one of the
roshei yeshiva of the Mir, who had come to France for the
convention, said. "If this arousal does not result in action,
it will have been in vain. It is forbidden to lose the
emotions inspired here, and they must be translated into
action. Everyone must resolve to study Torah on a daily basis
-- even for only half an hour. As we saw here, Torah is the
only element which unites the Jewish people."
The rosh yeshiva of Or Elchonon, HaRav Moshe Mordechai
Chodosh praised HaRav Sitrok, saying: "He arouses the spirit
of Torah in France, and spreads love of Torah which has been
which has been for lacking for so long in France." The chief
Rabbi of Paris, HaRav Masas said: "The convention is a
challenge to history. Fifty years ago, it was thought that
the Jewish Nation had been wiped out. Who would have believed
that France's Jews would one day demonstrate such warm
appreciation of Torah and the gedolei haTorah. This
convention proves the strength of the Jewish family in
France, an the family's importance as a place in which to
return to Torah."
The Foreign Minister of Israel, David Levi, flew to France
from Washington for Torah Day, and praised French Jewry for
preserving its identity, for returning to religion and
tradition and for maintaining strong ties with Israel Beside
him sat Israeli Ambassador to France ben Elishar.
The Israeli government must recognize the impact and
influence of Orthodox Jewry in France. The success of Torah
Day will refute the anti-chareidi propaganda of the non-Jews
who assert that they are dangerous to French society, and are
a threat to the liberal and the secular organizations.
According to Rabbi Segnior, who is responsible for of the
relations between the Consistoire and the French government,
the socialist government regards the development of the
chareidi communities as a danger, due to the incitement of
the left in Israel. At the convention, protests against the
socialist mayor of the Nuaze la Sack (a suburb of east
Paris), who is trying to destroy a mikveh and a
synagogue, were heard.
Torah Day ended with a gala hachnosas sefer Torah
celebration, in which thousands of Jews joined in the dancing