France Gets New Chief Rabbi


france rabbi.jpgChief Rabbi Gilles Bernheim, presently Rabbi of the Ashkenazi Synagogue of Paris, was elected Chief Rabbi of France for a term of  seven years starting on January 1st 2009.

This is the most heated public election of a Chief Rabbi in France since the last 55 years and 28 years since an non Sephardic Jew becomes Chief Rabbi of France. Chief Rabbi Bernheim is an orthodox rabbi who originates from the Alsace Region and is a major proponent of the philosophy of Samson Raphael Hirsh. A candidate to the post 14 years ago, he has contributed and directed to the education and integration of Judaism in the French Society as head of the Education activities of the Community in France.


  1. “This election should also be seen as a signal that Judaism in France is rejecting fundamentalism beliefs while preserving orthodoxy in Judaism.”

    Strange. I find Rabbi Hirsch’s teachings very fundamentalist. That’s why he was accepted by the cross breath of “ultra” orthodoxy

  2. Lots of “code words” in that post. But I would think that Rav Hirsch would not be a proponent of a Rabbi co-authoring a book with a priest, as Rabbi Berheim has.

    May Hashem grant Rabbi Berheim the wisdom, strength, and ability to truly protect and promote Torah and Yiddshkeit.

  3. I think the Gedolim in Eretz Yisroel are very upset that he won. They where strongly requesting that everyone should do whatever possible that he should not win.

  4. To all of the uninformed, Rav Hirsch’s Weltanschauung was more fundamentalist than what is colloquially called “to the right of G-d” by todays standards! In Modern Orthodoxy – which it’s adherents call Centrist, the Bdieved & the Lekulo have been raised to the Mitzvah Min Hamuvchar e.g. Cholov Yisroel & Hair Covering. I have yet to see in any of Rav Hirsch’s writing any leniencies for either of these two examples.

    If you use Orthodoxy as a label – rather than as a way of life – then they are two different things. Otherwise they are one & the same.

  5. Well the chief rabbi in the UK is a very controvercial. i hope this rav will be more frum or yeshivish.

    The chief rabbi of belgium is a great person. A huge talmid chacham. his name is Rabbi D. Libberman(a chabadnik) Halevai more such chief rabbis.

  6. ObservantJew,

    You obviously know not of what you speak. Where I live, for instance, the women cover their hair (not using the kula of a shaitel, which really is a kula if you think about it honestly), and we eat cholov yisrael.

    In fact, we host many chareidim on Shabbatot; yeshiva bochurs, and they’re very comfortable here; on every level.

    Oh yes, and ironically, the kula of cholov stam was from Rav Moshe Feinstein, who wasn’t “modern”. In fact, he stated quite clearly that one shouldn’t embarrass those who don’t use cholov Yisrael.

  7. To #8

    Do you live in France. My family is Yekkish, both my parents A”h were Talmidim of Rav Breuer Z”tl (my father was learning in the Yeshiva in Frankfurt when the Nazis closed it & my mother went to the Night Beis Yaakov in Rav Breuers apartment) – who preferred a Sheitel over a Tichel.

    BTW, I’m talking about covering the hair – not the covering method. My mother told me that in Berlin in the 30s, they allowed the Jewish children to go to the dairy to watch the milking – because it was dangerous for the Jewish adults to go to that area.

  8. ObservantJew (#11),
    do you (or anyone else here – perhaps Mr. Proud of WH TIDE) know why Rav Breuer ZT”L preferred sheitels rather than tichels? Just curious as to the reason. I had never heard that before.