Global Jewry - France
Posted on 08/05/2013 @ 07:00 AM
As Kallah wraps up, we reflect upon the great memories that we had. One of the awesome experiences that Kallah affords us is the opportunity to meet Jewish teens from around the world, and so I'd like to share a blog written by participants Alex Danoff and Idan Hovav about Jewry in France.
This year at BBYO's International Kallah, teens from eight different countries are in attendance, including France, Serbia, Canada, Bulgaria, and others. By welcoming all these young Jews from outside the United States, BBYO works to encourage global Jewry, especially in countries with developing Jewish populations.
Although France has approximately 540,000 Jews within its border, less than 97,000 are teenagers. Of these, just 150 are in BBYO there. In France, BBYO is active in 11 cities in three parts of the country.
Ivan Touati, a teen from France is here at Kallah, and he has a lot to say about issues back home. When asked about being a Jew in France, he describes it as “Frustrating. Most of the Jews in France stay very close together and don’t mix with other people. It creates anti-Semitism.” Even so, he likes being Jewish and going to synagogue. He attends a liberal synagogue, which is the France equivalent to reform. According to him, they can get up to 400 attendees at services for Yom Kippur, an impressive showing considering the relatively small Jewish community. Ivan also teaches Talmud and Torah to 8 and 9 year olds once a week.
Not only does having a teen from France here expose other participants to new languages, cultures, and people, it's also living proof that BBYO is a globally active organization with members everywhere in the world.
In France, BBYO competes for members with a Zionist youth group called Hashomer Hatzair. This organization recruits strongly in France and other European countries. Although many members of this organization do not join BBYO, both youth groups work toward the same goal: providing Jewish teens with a better Jewish experience.