Newly elected ‘Great Rabbi of France’ Haim Korsia, speaks to journalists on June 22, 2014, in Paris. (FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images)
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France’s Jews Elect New Chief Rabbi

Rabbi Haim Korsia, Jewish chaplain in the French army, selected for the post

Stephanie Butnick
June 23, 2014
Newly elected 'Great Rabbi of France' Haim Korsia, speaks to journalists on June 22, 2014, in Paris. (FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images)

France’s Jewish community has elected a new chief rabbi, JTA reports. The last chief rabbi, Gilles Bernheim, resigned in April 2013 after admitting to plagiarism and falsifying his academic titles, and the post had since been filled by two interim chief rabbis, Michel Gugenheim and Olivier Kaufmann. But in March, the Jewish community demanded the election of a new chief rabbi, issuing a letter that stated the community needed a “legitimate” chief rabbi to “express the voice of Judaism during the difficult period we are experiencing.”

Rabbi Haim Korsia, the French army’s Jewish chaplain, was elected to the post, beating out Kaufmann 131-97. He has a weighty task ahead of him, representing a community that is becoming increasingly marginalized and under outright attack. In the span of one week earlier this month in Paris, a Jewish teenager was attacked with a Taser; Jewish teens were sprayed with tear gas; and Jewish boys and their grandfather were chased by an ax-wielding man during Shavuot.

As we reported then, the rest of the year hasn’t exactly been much better for the Jews of France:

Last month, a Jewish woman with a baby was attacked at a Paris bus station by a man who shouted “Dirty Jewess” at her. In March, a Jewish teacher leaving a kosher restaurant in Paris had his nose broken by a group of assailants who also drew a swastika on his chest. One week earlier, an Israeli man was attacked with a stun gun outside a Paris synagogue, and a week before that a 28-year-old Jewish man was beaten on the Paris metro to chants of “Jew, we are going to lay into you, you have no country.” In a chilling video from January, anti-government demonstrators shout “Jew, France is Not Yours” as they march through the streets of Paris.

Stephanie Butnick is chief strategy officer of Tablet Magazine, co-founder of Tablet Studios, and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.