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jeudi 19 mai 2011

Orthodox Union's Delegation Met with Paris Consistoire's Officials

Rabbi Moshe Elefant, OU's Executive Rabbinic Coordinator/Chief Operating Officer, and Rabbi Menachem Genack, OU 's Rabbinic Administrator, met Paris Consistoire' s high rank officials in France 's capital (9-12 May, 2011).

In 1808, Emperor Napoleon 1st created the France Consistoire and local Consistoires. All local Consistoire are members of the France Consistoire Central. The Paris Consistoire, which also gathers Jewish communities living in the city capital's suburbs, is the most important local Consistoire.

Rabbis Elefant and Genack were invited by the Paris Consistoire for meetings regarding kosher products.

They visited several Jewish communities and schools, as well as the Fleg Center. Located in the Quartier Latin, the Fleg Center is dedicated to Jewish students.

On May 11, Rabbis Elefant and Genack discussed key issues with Parisian rabbis in charge of kosher services. They were offered a lunch of refined French kosher cooking in the Paris Great Synagogue with Senior Professional staff and rabbis from the Parisian suburbs' Jewish communities. They tasted a wine who had the OU and the Paris Beth Din (KBDP) kosher symbols on its label. The Paris Beth Din is the Paris Consistoire's Kashrut supervising authority. It has faced rivals, especially the Rabbinat Loubavich de France's certification.

Rabbi David Messas, Great Chief Rabbi of Paris, is the son of former Chief Sephardic Rabbi of Jerusalem, Shalom Messas. He was invited to visit the OU headquarters a few months ago. His vibrant speech during that lunch was focused on the necessity to repair the world by showing brotherhood, feeling love for Israel, and reinforcing unity.

Rav Jermiyahu M. Kohen, Av Beth Din, lauded the OU's rabbis’ expertise.

Joel Mergui, President of the Paris Consistoire, defined Paris Consistoire's characteristic: it is a non-profit service organization. For instance, he gave recognition to all rabbis who gave Kosher Le Pessah meals for Jews in hospitals, in the Army, in jails, etc. He hoped that kosher food would be affordable for every Jew, including poor Jews. He wanted to enlarge the range of Kosher products. He wished that "more Jews would come closer to Jewish organizations and to Judaism through kashrout -- eating kosher food at home or in restaurants, etc. -- and ethics". He briefly mentioned the Consistoire's fight to prevent the adoption of a European ban of ritual slaughter (shehita).

A OU Rabbi echoed President Mergui's speech underlining that the OU, "a community base organization", is also guided by religious and social considerations.

After prayers, Rabbis Elefant and Genack joined the Parisian Rabbis' Beth Hamidrach's Seminar.

"The KBDP is a French and European important certificate. The OU has high standards of kosher certification and deploys a European and world wide activity. OU and Paris Consistoire's representatives met in order to envisage setting up partnerships in the interest of Jewish communities. We share the same goals: to serve the Jewish community. We wish to optimize our actions. The French food-processing (agroalimentary) industry will be more interested in manufacturing kosher products if we propose a scale which includes the American market, besides the French one", President Mergui told me on May 11, 2011. He added that activists who support boycotts of kosher products might put pressure on some food-processing manufacturers.

"OU and Paris Consistoire have strict standards of Kosher certification. Their activities are complementary. Thus, a synergy will be positive for both organizations. For instance, OU benefits from the Paris Consistoire's expertise in kosher wine production in France. Thousands of bottles of OU/KBDP certified wines were sold", Alain Korcarz noted. Korcarz's enterprise is a "European leader of Kosher bakery and viennoiseries" whose two sites of production are certified by OU and Paris Consistoire.

"Our impression of the French Jewish scene was a very positive one. We were truly impressed by the rich Jewish life that exists in Paris. The synagogues, schools, Jewish institutions, restaurants, all showed us a very vibrant and growing community. We were particularly impressed with the work of the Paris Beth Din and their staff, both on a lay and professional leadership side. We were excited by the opportunity to continue to develop our relationship with the Consistoire to help facilitate the availability of all types of kosher foods to the kosher public, both in Europe and the United States. By co-marketing, we believe the community as a whole will be the beneficiary", Rabbi Moshe Elefant wrote to me on May 25, 2011.

My article was first published by Ami magazine and modified on May 26, 2011

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