In a visit by a delegation from Dirshu to Paris and its environs to mark the siyum of the second part of Mishnah Berurah in the Daf Yomi B’Halachah program, they met the Sarcelles mayor who issued a call to the Jews of France: “Don’t be afraid; come to Sarcelles.” * It turns out that the mounting anti-Semitism in France is contributing to the connection of the Jewish nation to its roots * The heads of Dirshu meet 30 maggidei shiur in Paris: Ahead of the beginning of the study of the third section of Mishnah Berurah Hilchos Shabbos, we will increase the investment in France by opening dozens of new shiurim, they said.
“We are waiting for you and want to see as many Jews as possible settling in the city.” This call was issued by Mayor of Sarcelles Mr. Francois Pupponi, during a meeting with a delegation of Dirshu that was visiting France on a special trip to mark the occasion of the siyum of the second section of Mishnah Berurah in the Daf Yomi B’Halachah program. The mayor, who is an ardent oheiv Yisrael, did not hesitate to make the following declaration: “France without Jews is not France.”
The Dirshu delegation visited several communities and cities throughout France. It was comprised of several Rabbanim, headed by the nasi of Dirshu, Rav Dovid Hofstedter, shlita. The objective was to visit the many dedicated maggidei shiur who deliver the Daf Yomi B’Halachah shiurim and have now completed the second section of Mishnah Berurah and are about to start the third.
The trip had many emotional moments, but one of the surprises that awaited the delegation was when they arrived in Sarcelles, a city outside Paris, and discovered very active shiurim in Daf Yomi B’Halachah that draw multitudes of participants from all strata of the community, from bnei Torah to those taking their first steps in the Torah world.
The members of the community and its leaders initiated a meeting between the delegation and the mayor. Joining the delegation was Harav Shalom Bruss, the Rav of Sarcelles, who is also the maggid shiur of the central Daf Yomi B’Halachah shiur, and Rabbi Avraham Elchaddad, one of the city’s Rabbanim. Also present was Dr. Uzan, the deputy mayor and president of the Jewish community in the city. Mayor Pupponi went out of his way during the visit by the Dirshu delegation to urge them to spread the call to the Jews of France to come to Sarcelles. Dirshu is the largest Torah organization in the world, with some 130,000 learners in 26 countries.
“The knowledge that there are Jews who are afraid to live in France and want to go to Israel because of the rising anti-Semitism, arouses concern in the hearts of the French nation,” said Pupponi. He noted that “if a Jew wants to go to Israel because he loves the land, we cannot stand in his way. But those who are doing so out of fear – on the contrary, we call for them to come to Sarcelles, where we will welcome them with open arms.” He even revealed that he is working to build a new neighborhood with 500 housing units that the municipality wants to designate for Jews settling in the city.
At the end of the moving visit, the mayor awarded the city’s medal of honor to the nasi of Dirshu, Rav Hofstedter. The mayor noted that it was an honor for the city to give its medal of honor to the nasi of the largest Torah organization in the world. Rav Hofstedter gave the mayor in return a copy of his sefer Darash Dovid al HaTorah in a version translated to French.
From there, the delegation continued to Paris, where the nasi of Dirshu delivered a shiur in the 19th Arrondissement to the members of the Torateinu community, headed by Harav Yitzchak Shama, shlita. At the end of the shiur, there was a meeting of the maggidei shiur of the Daf Yomi B’Halachah shiurim in Paris, and they reported the effects of the shiurim and how they are generating a kiruv revolution in the City of Lights.
Some 30 maggidei shiur attended and related that many Jews who had, until recently, been disconnected from Yiddishkeit, now participated each morning or evening in a Daf Yomi B’Halachah shiur and learn to live like Jews in the full sense of the world.
“Learning halachah is effectively returning Jews who have grown distant to their Jewish roots,” the maggidei shiur marveled. They related that there is a thirst for learning, and that Rabbanim receive phone calls late at night from women asking if “it’s true that I have to act like this or make a brachah like that.” Entire families are taking steps toward Yiddishkeit, only in the merit of the daily shiur in halachah.
“What is keeping up the Jews who are coping with a wave of anti-Semitism, alongside the constant fear of terror attacks, is the connection to Judaism,” the maggidei shiur said. This was the theme of what the nasi of Dirshu said as well, and he noted that “the connection to Yiddishkeit is felt today more and more, specifically in light of the anti-Semitic attacks. The more Jews are harmed because of their Jewish identity, the more it brings them to cleave to their Judaism and return to it, not the opposite.”
At a meeting with Mr. Meir Chaviv, a member of the French parliament, Chaviv also pointed to a revolution taking place in France, and said that “today we are seeing a process of connection to heritage and a return to roots, and there is no doubt that these shiurim play a great role in this. These shiurim strengthen the Jewish identity of the French people, and that is exactly what we lack today.”
The exciting trip left a deep impression on the Jewish communities in France. It concluded with a visit to the yeshivah ketanah headed by Harav Mordechai Rottenberg, shlita, Av Beis Din of Kehillas Hachareidim of Paris. The yeshivah has dozens of young students learning Torah diligently, and their pure learning radiates to the entire community. In a drashah delivered by the nasi of Dirshu he told them that “it is heartwarming to see that in the heart of the secular city of Paris, bachurim are growing in this wonderful hothouse of Torah and good middos.”
The nasi also focused on the importance of learning halachah, in addition to learning all other parts of Torah. He blessed them that “I am confident that you will become Gedolim b’Yisrael.”
In another month, the Jewish world will mark the siyum of the second part of the Mishnah Berurah under the Daf Yomi B’Halachah program by Dirshu. The visit to France also put the spotlight on the revolution spreading throughout the Jewish world due to the regular study of halachah – something that has become widely accepted since Dirshu established the organized study of halachah.