On July 19th, 2023, renowned figures from the religious, political and diplomatic world gathered in Istanbul to pay tribute to the late René-Samuel Sirat, Chief Rabbi of France, who passed away on February 10th, 2023. One of the great supporters and friends of Project Aladdin, René-Samuel Sirat dedicated his life to intercultural dialogue. As head of Project Aladdin’s Interfaith Committee, Rabbi Sirat oversaw the publication of Know the Religion of Thy Neighbor and other projects in favor of interfaith dialogue, a cause in which he believed in and worked for his entire life.
On the occasion of this tribute, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome spoke about Chief Rabbi Sirat’s lifelong commitment to dialogue and fruitful communication. He emphasized that Chief Rabbi Sirat considered human rights and nature preservation as issues of equal importance and refused to prioritize one over the other. His All-Holiness emphasized that his legacy extends beyond his own life. His All-Holiness called for Chief Rabbi Sirat’s message of unity over division to prevail so that the memory of this great leader be remembered.
Furthermore, Isak Haleva, Chief Rabbi of Turkey, gave a video address in honor of Chief Rabbi Sirat. He recalled René-Samuel Sirat’s constant support to the Jewish Community of Turkey, especially following the New Shalom Synagogue attacks in 1986. Rabbi Haleva described his late friend as a true sage who was able to reconcile faith and reason, unite philosophy and religion.
Finally, H.E. Judge Mohamed Abdelsalam, General Secretary of the Muslim Council of Elders and of the Higher Committee for Human Fraternity (UAE) took the floor to recall Rabbi Sirat’s lifelong commitment to prosperous dialogue between Jews and Muslims. He underlined that the late Chief Rabbi was a firm believer in the importance of getting to know the Other’s religion and a dedicated friend to the Muslim Community. Judge Abdelsalam closed his remarks by affirming that Chief Rabbi Sirat’s life and work continues to inspire all who aim to build bridges between Jews and Muslims.