Friday, May 23, 2008

The only trilingual liberal synagogue in France

We attended some lovely Kabbalat Shabbat services last night at what appears to be the only trilingual (French, Hebrew, English) synagogue in Paris. As we learned more about the community, and the state of Judaism in France, we came to discover that it is even more unusual than that. The rabbi is an American from Oregon, who met his French wife during rabbinical studies in Israel. According to an article from about twelve years ago, posted on the wall of the shul, there are (or were at the time) only eight liberal rabbis in all of France. (By liberal, we presume they mean non-Orthodox.) Even more so, the rabbi's wife, a rabbi in her own right, was at that point the only female rabbi in France.

One of the things we've hoped to do while we're here is to attend services at some historic synagogues around Paris. One famous one was built by the Rothschild family and is apparently very fancy indeed; another (the ironically named Notre-Dame de Nazareth synagogue, after the street where it is located) is among the oldest. Although the center of Jewish learning in medieval France was Troyes, not Paris, it is still a place where Jews have lived and learned for a long time. But apparently, when we do go to those services, I am going to have to cover my hair and sit in the balcony, because most active shuls are Orthodox. It will be a first for me.


Anonymous said...

Sheesh, I go away for a long weekend and it's a post-o-rama!

The church from Highlander that I thought was cool is St. Julien de Notre Dame, which I think is on the Ile de la Cite, which means it shouldn't be far. It's v. v. old. (Also, Methos "owns" the Shakespeare & Co. bookshop near Notre Dame.)

SEB said...

We have already been to Shakespeare & Co. Himself made a list of bookshops first thing and we have been taking turns between that and my list of medieval churches. Finding them often means finding other little surprises, like most recently a kosher pizzeria. What the hey?