(JTA) – An Israel-based Jewish educational group, Dirshu, has enrolled its 1,000th student in France into classes devoted to studying the Talmud, a central text of Orthodox Jewish tradition.
The current level of enrollment was reached two years after Dirshu, which was founded in 1997, began its current cycle of study in France, Rabbi Naftali Levy, Dirshu’s head of operations in France, told JTA Wednesday.
The organization, which is active in the United States, Canada, Israel and beyond, facilitates group and online learning sessions of segments from the Talmud as a means of reinforcing Jewish identity and knowledge among Jewish communities. The annual budget of its operations in France is roughly $80,000, a spokesperson for the group said.
France has 500,000 Jews and a network of Chabad-affiliated educational institutions that are among the country’s best schools.
However, Levy said, whereas France has thousands of young men who attend yeshivas, or religious seminaries, with intensive curricula, and a vibrant Jewish cultural scene, there is a “gap of knowledge among ordinary Jews with traditional or Orthodox backgrounds. We give them the means to deepen their knowledge,” he told JTA.