The Liberal Jews of France Join Forces

On Monday, September 23rd, the French Liberal Jewish Union (Ulif-Copernic) and the Liberal Jewish Movement of France (MJLF) have joined forces to create the common entity Judaism in motion at their two extraordinary general assemblies in Paris.

About 2000 Jewish families in the country are members of this new religious association. The objective of this association is to strengthen liberal Judaism, a very small minority in France, in the face of the majority Orthodox faith, represented by the Consistory.

Acquiring a New Visibility

The challenge for Judaism on the move is of two kinds. First of all, it must acquire a new visibility in order to attract 80% of the people of the Jewish faith who do not attend synagogues, by promoting a ” modern Judaism in tune with the times “. Liberal Jews defend rigid equality between men and women, notably allowing women to count in the minian (a quorum of 10 persons – men in Orthodox Judaism – necessary for the holding of services). “In our country, we welcome everyone, regardless of their habits, mixed families, such as those who eat pork”, summarizes Patrick Altar, administrator at Ulif-Copernic.

Liberal Judaism is certainly not an easy Judaism, contrary to what the Orthodox may think, says Gad Weil, the president of the MJLF. He believes that the values of openness promoted by liberal Judaism will provide Jews who do not recognize themselves in the official religious bodies with the opportunity to be heard as well as to renew their ties with Jewish culture and religious practice.

The second challenge is to consider the Consistory and push it to open up to all influences in the long run. “The Massortis, the Liberals, to some extent the Loubavitchs, are not represented by the consistory. We want to be a Jewish house, which can tell all the Jews of France that they are welcome, that they can come and meet us. We will listen to them and work to enable them to have a place where they can live their Jewish life “, says Gad Weil.

With 89% of the two organizations approving the move, a number of questions were raised among voters, some of whom feared they would lose their specific voice as the two institutions moved closer together. The will to unite prevailed and within five years, the two future co-presidents set themselves the ambitious goal of doubling the number of families in their synagogues.

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