SITRUK, JOSEPH (1945– ), chief rabbi of France. Sitruk was born in Tunisia, but raised from early childhood on in Nice. His brilliant high school record seemed to indicate a career in science, but his extracurricular activities, such as those in the French Jewish scouting movement, led him to choose a career in the rabbinate instead.
After completing his studies at the Seminaire Rabbinique of France, he began in 1970 to serve as the rabbi of Strasbourg. In 1975 Rabbi Jacob Kaplan, chief rabbi of France, put him in charge of the Marseilles community, the second largest in France. Within a few years Sitruk had succeeded in reorganizing this rather disparate community made up of various successive waves of immigration. In ever-increasing numbers Jews began to attend synagogue and return to religious practices.
On June 14, 1987, Joseph Sitruk was elected chief rabbi of France; he assumed office in January 1988. As successor to Chief Rabbi René *Sirat, he was the second Sephardi chief rabbi of France. His election confirms the role that Sephardi Jews now play in the leadership of French Jewry following the large immigration of North African Jews to France.