Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi To Make Historic Visit To French Mosque


rabbi-metzger-and-chalghoumiIn a precedent-setting move, Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger is expected to visit the Drancy Mosque, in the northern suburbs of Paris, in the coming weeks and to speak before its congregation.

Metzger met with the mosque’s imam, Hassen Chalghoumi, a leading French Muslim cleric in Jerusalem on Monday. The two religious leaders discussed recent anti-Semitic attacks in France, the most recent of which occurred on Saturday in the city of Villeurbanne, when three Jews wearing kippot (skullcaps) were attacked by 10 men armed with iron rods and hammers. The French Interior Ministry has officially classified the incident as an anti-Semitic attack.

Two of the three victims were hospitalized, one with injuries to the head, and the other with neck injuries.

Saturday’s attack was yet another incident in a string of anti-Semitic attacks, including a March 19 shooting spree in Toulouse, carried out by a French citizen of Algerian descent, Mohammed Merah, who killed four Jews at the Otzar Hatorah Jewish school.

In his conversation with Rabbi Metzger, Chalghoumi condemned the attacks on French Jews. According to Metzger’s associates, Chalghoumi is a courageous man who has offered conciliatory messages toward Israel and the Jewish world. He has received death threats as a result and often travels with bodyguards.

Rabbi Metzger told Chalgoumi of his recent trip to Kazakhstan, where he ended up praying in a room that serves as a mosque as there was no Jewish synagogue at the site of his visit. The imam then told him he didn’t realize Jews were allowed to pray in a mosque and invited Rabbi Metzger to pay a historic visit to his mosque, one of the largest in the Paris area, and speak there.

“We spoke for a long time about the ideological connection between Judaism and Islam,” Metzger said.

In 2010, Chalgoumi supported the French ban on full facial veils for Muslim women and he has also spoken out against Islamic extremism, eliciting criticism from some worshipers at his mosque. According to a 2010 New York Times article, some have called him “the imam of the Jews.”

Meanwhile, French Interior Minister Manuel Walls is expected to meet with Jewish leaders on Tuesday to discuss the recent anti-Semitic incidents in the country as well as ways to bolster security in Jewish communities.

{Israel Hayom/ Newscenter}


  1. If the Imam was l’havdil a Rabbi we’d consider him a reform Rabbi for the “watered down” positions he takes. In Islam wearing the veil is equivalent to wearing a shaitel for orthodox women. Imagine if a so called orthodox rabbi supported a law to ban shaitels? Also inviting a rabbi to his mosque to speak seems to be following the reform way of thinking (compare to YCT inviting Imams & bishops to their yeshiva to lecture & learn with the students). I can very well imagine how his actions make “frum” muslims feel.

  2. time to decide either get out of france or form your own JDL and protect your selves let the french live with these animals

  3. Good move by Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger and his advisors. More high leve trust building is required on the international scene.

  4. ohev shalom, you are incorrect. The ban is on full facial veils, not on the hijab, which completely covers the hair but not the face. The hijab is equivalent to a shaitel.