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Les juifs

The Jewish community is the religious minority with the oldest presence in France. French Judaism has a pyramidal, centralised organisation ; at its head is the Consistory (Consistoire), created in 1808 by Napoleon in order to align the organisation of the Jewish faith along the Christian model. Fifteen regional presbyteries are each headed by a chief rabbi and have their own areas of competence. They elect members of the Central Consistory (Consistoire central), composed mostly of lay people, which manages various bodies such as the Jewish seminary or the rabbinical court. Today, however, it is far from representing all Jews : liberals, Conservative Judaism (Masorti), ultra-orthodox, ultra-liberal or non-Lubavitch Hasidic communities do not feel represented.
The results of a poll by the Unified Jewish Social Fund provide some information about the Jewish community, the religious minority with the oldest presence in France.
Just over a quarter of French Jews live in Paris, 30% in the Paris region. Almost all Jewish heads of household now have French nationality (96.34%). Among those born outside of France, many come from Algeria. 30% of Jewish households attend community events very regularly (once a month or more) - which shows an increase compared to only 22% in 1988. The percentage who never attend community events is in decline (18%). In most cases, attending community events means visiting the synagogue.
"Exogamy continues to grow among Jews in France", observe the authors of the survey. 69% of heads of household have a Jewish spouse, 1% spouses who have converted to Judaism and 30% a non-Jewish spouse. It should be noted that the percentage of mixed marriages rises to 40% among the under 30’s.
The Observatory of the Jewish World (observatoire du monde juif)aims to study and analyse the condition of Jewish communities and the problems they face in France and worldwide, both in terms of their specific existence and of their political, social and cultural environment". Several interesting cases can be found on their website. One of these deals with changes to the functions of rabbis (2003), another to the Jewish community and communitarianism (2004), finally another provides information about young French Jews (2005).
A survey Enquête auprès des juifs de France (Ifop, September 2015) reveals that Jews are many to claim having experienced hostility or agression : 63% hav already been insulted, 51% threatened, 43% assaulted. 93% of them think that Antisemitism exists in France. 51% of Jews seriously think about moving ot another country, and 19% of those very seriously consider it (against 10% of the French altogether). Among those who consider moving, 43% would be leaving for Israel.
Jews who have children of school age are 65% to have chosen a state educational institution, 25% a Catholic private educational institution, and 13% a Jewish one. Opting for a Jewish private educational institution is related to the level of religious practice : 25% of Jews claiming to be practicing chose a Jewish institution of their children, and 82% of non practicing Jews select a state educational institution.

See also :
 Mehdi Ghouirgate, Iannis Roder et Dominique Schnapper, France : les Juifs vus par les musulmans. Entre stéréotypes et méconnaissances, 2017.
 Martine Cohen, Samuel Everett, Panorama des initiatives en faveur du dialogue judéo-­musulman, 2020.

D 7 janvier 2016    AAnne-Laure Zwilling

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