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Le judaïsme

The Jewish presence in France is a very ancient reality. It was felt, maybe before, but at least at the beginning of, the Christian era. It was increased by the Jewish immigrants from Central Europe and Eastern Europe before World War I, and the Jews coming from North Africa in the 1950s and 1960s. Today, the Jewish community is diverse. Their population is estimated between 500,000 and 600,000 and the majority of them are of Sephardic origins (coming from North Africa).
This religious group is nowadays very diverse : from the "Yom kippur Jews" who go to the synagogue once a year, for the celebration of this solemn holiday, to the members of the liberal movement trying to put together respect of tradition and liberal practice. The ultra orthodox Lubavich movement, born from hassidism in the 17th century Eastern Europe, which puts together mysticism, strict observance and social activism, counts several dozens of centers around Paris. It remains a minority among judaism, as the conservative ; their number is nevertheless on the increase.
The Representative Council of the Jewish Institutions in France (CRIF) is the spokesman of the Jewish community before the French government. The Consistory of Paris, which was founded thanks to the Napoleonic decree of the 11 December 1808, is one of the oldest Jewish institutions in France. Finally, the Unified Jewish Social Fund (FSJU), a voluntary association federates a large number of Jewish associations.
A study Enquête auprès des juifs de France (Ifop, Septembre 2015), reveals some characteristics of Judaism in France. 41% of French Jews claim to be Sephardim, 26% Ashkenazim (26%), 14% both, and 19% do want to answer or do not think that this distincition is significant.
Altogether, the group is not very practicing : 42% claim to have no religious practice, 22% little practice, 26% good level of practice, and 10% a high level of religious practice. As for other religious groups, the level of practice is higher among youth : people with no religious practice are 82% among people aged more than 65. The number of those claiming a good or high level of practice is of 36%, and 53% for people under 35. 24% of men wear the kippa on a regular or systematic basis (and 41% of people aged less than 35). 41% of Jewish men, and 68% of Jewish men over 65, never wear a kippa, Yom kippour is the most attended feast, especially for Sephardim, Pourim and Soukkot the less attended.

For more information :
- AZRIA Régine, Le judaïsme, Paris, La Découverte, 1996.
- BENBASSA Esther, Histoire des Juifs de France (Histoires), Paris, Seuil, 2000.
- COHEN Erik H., The Jews of France at the Turn of the Third Millenium. A Sociological and Cultural Analysis, The Rappaport Center for Assimilation Research and Strengthening Jewish Vitality Bar Ilan University - Faculty of Jewish Studies, 2009.
- MALKA Salomon et Victor, Le grand désarroi. Enquête sur les juifs de France, Paris, Albin Michel, 2016.

D 13 janvier 2016    AAnne-Laure Zwilling

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