Left-wing Jews protest Jerusalem Chief Rabbi at Paris synagogue

Jerusalem Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar speaks at Paris synagogue. Liberal Jews protest over rabbi's comments criticizing Reform movement.


Rabbi Shlomo Amar
Rabbi Shlomo Amar
Flash 90

In a move that underlined growing divisions among French Jews, several dozen attended a demonstration protesting communal leaders’ welcoming of a prominent rabbi from Israel.

Approximately 40 Jewish protesters, some of them affiliated with Liberal congregations, showed up at the rally last week outside the Buffault synagogue in Paris ahead of the arrival there of Rabbi Shlomo Amar, an Orthodox chief rabbi of Jerusalem, with signs protesting what they said were misogynist and divisive statements he had made.

Rabbi Amar has visited the French capital many times before. His visit Tuesday was the first time that he was met by Jewish protesters, according to the La Croix daily.

Rabbi Amar visited France as a guest of the Consistoire organization, a state-recognized framework that provides Orthodox Jewish communities with religious services in France. Earlier this month, Rabbi Amar stated that Reform Jews were similar Holocaust deniers in their denial of Jewish history during an address concerning demands by followers of liberal Jewish movements for changes in the rules of worship at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

“These words ostracize a significant part of the Jewish people,” Michael Amsellem, one of the protest’s organizers, wrote in a statement. Yet, he noted, Rabbi Amar was “invited for a lecture titled ‘Unity and the Month of Elul.’”

The protest rally also was promoted by Delphine Horvilleur, a community leader and editor of the Tenoua Jewish magazine. Tenoua released a banner reading “Misogyny, homophobia, hate and contempt: not in my synagogue” to promote the protest against Rabbi Amar.

This was to show the “rejection” by some members of French Jewry, the world’s third largest with 500,000 members, with “the honor shown by communal representatives to a man that propagates scandalous statements, rife with homophobia and openly promotes hatred for whole sections of World Jewry,” a statement by Tenoua read.

Some of the protesters at the rally also carried signs reading: “For a New Consistoire, a Consistoire for All.”

The Consistoire defended Rabbi Amar’s visit to France as “historic and successful,” citing the arrival of 400 guests to the first visit on Sept 10 by a presiding chief rabbi of Jerusalem to Lyon. The Consistorie was “honored to host” Amar both there for a gala ahead of Rosh Hashanah and in Paris, the Consistoire said in a statement.