With the passing of Chief Rabbi René-Samuel Sirat, we lost one of our most faithful friends and supporters. A tireless advocate of interfaith and intercultural dialogue, he worked in the belief that the monotheistic religions were not meant to confront each other, but to stand side by side. In 2009, he took part in the call to conscience during the launch of Project Aladdin at UNESCO Headquarters.
Chief Rabbi Sirat was guided by central values of peace, justice, and fraternity. Born in Algeria in 1930, he helped rebuild post-war French Judaism and dedicated his life to learning and teaching. As a University Professor, he was in charge of the mission of the General Inspectorate of National Education for the teaching of Hebrew, then became a professor at l’Institut national des langues et civilisations orientales (INALCO) where he directed the Hebrew and Jewish Studies section for nearly 30 years. René-Samuel Sirat was also Founding Director of the UNESCO Chair “Knowledge of the Religion of the Book and Education for Peace”.
A staunch humanist and beacon of hope for fraternal peace, he held the position of Chief Rabbi of France from 1981 to 1988, and took part in several international events such as the first “Interreligious meetings for peace” together with Pope John Paul II. For decades, he strove to foster interreligious rapprochement through teaching and sharing — regardless of superficial differences, and always with profound goodwill. Guided by these principles, he co-chaired the Higher Interfaith Committee and sparked the creation of Know the Religion of Thy Neighbor, published by Project Aladdin under the patronage of UNESCO.
His memory, his philosophical and spiritual heritage, and his unwavering faith in humanity remain an inexhaustible source of inspiration for all future actions of Project Aladdin.