KAHN, JEAN (1929– ), French Jewish leader. Kahn was born in Strasbourg where he attended school and the university law school. He received his doctorate in law for a thesis on "Marriage in Jewish and Roman Law." Kahn qualified as a lawyer in 1953 but gave up his practice to enter the family textile business. He was early involved in communal affairs and from 1969 to 1990 was president of the Strasbourg Jewish Community. Active in the World Jewish Congress from 1979, he became president of its European Commission in 1979 and president of the European Jewish Congress in 1991. In 1983, Kahn was elected vice president of CRIF (the French Jewish Representative Council) and in 1989, by a 75% vote, he became its president. He has been involved in various major problems facing the European Jewish community, especially in view of the recrudescence of antisemitism. He was active in the efforts to transfer the Carmelite convent from Auschwitz, in the protests against the desecration of Jewish graves in the Carpentras cemetery, and in the struggle against France's National Front Party, including a crucial intervention in having the parliamentary immunity of its leader, Jean-Marie le Pen, lifted so he could face charges before the European Parliament. In 1991 he became president of the Bas-Rhin Consistoire. He has been awarded the Legion of Honor and other honors.
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.