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cooperation feminine report 2013-2014

The Cooperation Feminine (CF), the French Affiliate, has continued to carry out its different activities in the cultural and social fields, in line with what was presented in previous reports. Its action is very positive.
Under the presidency of Evelyne Berdugo, the CF has been very active. It has worked to promote and support the fights of Jewish women towards equality in the French Jewish Community.
Some special events deserve to be pointed out.
-          In September 2013, the CF has celebrated the 20th anniversary of ESAT, a social center for handicapped men and women, which provides work and salaries for 67 persons, giving them hope and security in their day-to-day life. After a difficult period, ESAT had so much work that it was necessary to call some volunteers of the CF to help the workers in order to keep to the delays and fulfil the contracts. The CF plans to increase soon the number of workers employed
-          The CF has also organized, as usual, a summer vacation resort for handicapped young people in a lovely environment.
-          The CF has initiated a series of Midrash courses during which Janine Elkouby, a professor highly versed in Jewish texts, explains the biblical texts to a numerous assistance in order for the participants to be in a position to understand by themselves the principles of the Halakah.
-          The CF has also initiated a series of weekly courses of modern Hebrew with an Israeli professor. The audience is very pleased and hopes to continue to attend this oulpan in order to speak fluently Hebrew very soon. .
-          In December, the” Braderie” took place, as usual. It is a popular event during which clothes and accessories donated by sympathizing companies are sold at very good prices in order to provide some funds, since the CF is not allowed to do any fundraising. The remaining articles are given to charities.
-          As already explained, the CF has set up and run the “Jardin des Roos”, an open space where families and children have the opportunity to meet and spend time with volunteers and psychologists. The Jardin des Roos is very popular in its neighborhood and is visited by around 50 children each week, many of them being sent by public entities in charge with the protection of children. The children are also welcomed to attend art and musical workshops. During this year, the Jardin des Roos has experienced an increase and a change of audience. These changes can be explained by 2 reasons:
a.       the first generation of children has grown up and is going to school. It is now replaced by a new generation
b.       the neighborhood has experienced a tremendous change of population and is now a fashionable place for young professional couples. So the audience of parents and children is completely different.
The Jardin des Roos is now recognized by the Paris City Council and by other public institutions; it receives therefore public subventions.
-          In April 2013, the Committee for raising funds for Israel has organized its annual lunch in presence of His Excellency Mr. Yossi Gall, the Israeli Ambassador. The event, hosted by Mrs. Evelyne Berdugo, president of the CF, and Monique Katz, president of the Committee, was sponsored by Bulgari and Dior (among other famous brands). The guest of honor was Professor Rene Frydman, a legend in French medicine and “father of “Amandine”, the first baby born by in vitro fecundation 30 years ago.
All the members of the Committee were invited for lunch on January 30 at the private residence of the Israeli Ambassador. They are preparing the future Fundraising lunch which shall take place next April.
-          A new project is being implemented, the prize of the Cooperation Feminine, which will be awarded in November.2014. Candidates are now applying.
This prize, amounting to 4,000 euros, was created in 1989 by Stella Rozan, a former President of ICJW, within the framework of the Julien and Stella Rozan Foundation, under the patronage of the French foundation for Judaism.
It is awarded every other year to a woman for her work, action or completed project on a theme chosen by a jury of 15 members.
The theme chosen for the present year is “Peace beyond differences”.
-          At the occasion of the International Women’s Day, all the women working at the Centre Rachi, where the CF is located, were invited for lunch. All the participants were very happy to spend some time together and share delicious homemade dishes.
-          Last but not least, the CF has organized; on 11March 2014, a very important meeting under the title “Listen to her voice “(Genesis 2.1).
The purpose of the meeting was
a.       To point out the difficulties and discriminations faced by French Jewish women from  the majority of rabbis and of the Jewish Institutions, compared to the situation of women either in the USA or in Israel
b.      To see how the delicate matter of the Agunot is treated in France compared to the USA or Israel.

The meeting was attended by a very large audience, comprising a majority of women but, also several men. Evelyn Ascot acted as moderator.
After a short introduction by Evelyne Berdugo and Lilianne Picard, who presented ICJW, the Dvar Torah was presented by a professor of Jewish philosophy, who gave an explanation of the verse “Listen to Her Voice“.
A panel of 5 women (including the delegate in France of the American Jewish Committee) and one man, well aware of the situations in France, Israel and the USA; treated the following topics:
a.       The place of women in the Jewish Community
b.      The right to study religious texts for women and girls
c.       The teaching religious issues in Jewish schools and Talmudé Torah
d.      The problem of the Agunot
Liliane Vana, a famous doctor in sciences of religions, specialist of Hebraic Law and Talmudist, made a specific presentation about the condition and the rights of women in Halakha, pointing out the real and false problems.
The Chief Rabbi of Strasbourg and Bas-Rhin spoke about the decision of the last Congress of European Rabbis and its consequences, among which the possibility to add a prenuptial agreement next to the Ketoubah ,like it is done in Israel,the UK and the USA. An eminent Professor spoke about a topic titled by him “Thanks God, a woman is different from a man!”
Joelle Berhneim, who has created the Beth Midrash Lenachim;a Women’s  Jewish studies course, concluded the meeting: the new status of the Jewish Woman, dare to study, to think and to speak.
An appeal for changes in behavior and regulations was read and will be presented to the religious authorities and to the media.
The following day Liliane Seidman, European president of ICJW, and Eliane Sperling, ICJW representative to the European Women’s Lobby, who attended the meeting, were invited for a nice lunch at the Cooperation Feminine; during which they met different volunteers.
-          Finally, “Noa Oser le Dire“, the helpline established by the CF in association with Wizo and other Jewish Institutions, to help Jewish women victims of domestic violence, is now well known in the Jewish Community and provides support and advices to a great number of women.