Harav Yosef Chaim Sitruk, zt”l, long-serving Rav of various kehillos in France and the country’s Chief Rabbi for over twenty years, was niftar Sunday morning in Paris after a lengthy battle with a serious illness.
Rav Sitruk was born in Tishrei 5705/October 1944 in Tunis and was named Yosef; the name Chaim was added to his name in 2001, after he suffered a stroke.
Rav Sitruk was awarded semichah in 1970 following his studies in yeshivah, and was appointed Rabbi of Strasbourg. Later he became the assistant of then-French Chief Rabbi Max Warchawski.
In 1975, Rav Sitruk was appointed Chief Rabbi of Marseille.
In 1987, he was elected to the post of Chief Rabbi of France. He was subsequently re-elected for two more seven-year terms. He also served as the president of the Conference of European Rabbis.
He initiated various Yom HaTorah events, which brought together thousands of people to dedicate a day to Torah learning. His charisma earned him a certain reverence, especially among Sephardi Jews.
Rav Sitruk had a close connection with leading Rabbanim in Eretz Yisrael; notably with Hagaon Harav Ovadia Yosef, zt”l. The last public event he attended was during a visit of the Sephardic Chief Rabbi Harav Yitzchak Yosef, in Paris, to mark 20 years of the founding of the mosdos of Rav Sitruk in France.
The levayah will begin Sunday in Paris and will continue Monday in Yerushalayim, where the Rav is to be buried on Har Hazeisim, near the kever of his mother.
He is survived by his wife and nine children and many grandchildren.