André Chouraqui

Member of the Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli International Committee

Nathan André Chouraqui was born in Aïn Temouchent, Algeria, on August 11, 1917. His parents, Isaac Chouraqui and Meleha Meyer, both descended from Spanish Jewish families who, as early as the 16th century, contributed to North African Judaism judges, theologists, rabbis and poets as well as scientists.

From 1935 he studied Law and Rabbinical studies in Paris. He was active in the French Resistance in the Maquis of Central France (1942-1945). Lawyer and later judge in the district of the Algiers Court of Appeal (1945-1947), Chouraqui became a Doctor of Law in 1948 (University of Paris).

In 1958, he married Annette Lévy. They have five children: Emmanuel, Elisabeth, Yaël, David and Mikhal, as well as ten grandchildren.

From 1947 to 1953, Chouraqui served as Assistant Secretary General Of The Alliance Israélite Universelle, then as Permanent Delegate for the Alliance Israélite Universelle (1953-1982), under the presidency of René Cassin. He traveled extensively throughout the world, lecturing in over 80 countries. From Jerusalem, where he has lived since 1958, he acts as a spokesman for French culture in Israel and as an ambassador for Judaism the world over.

Vice President of the Committee of Non-Governmental Organizations (of UNICEF-UNAC) from 1950-1956, he proposed the project to fight against trachoma, a project which consequently saved the eyesight of millions of children around the world.

Settled in Jerusalem since 1958, he became advisor to Prime Minister David Ben Gurion (1959-1963) on the integration in Israel of Jews from Muslim countries, and on inter-community relations.

Elected Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem in 1965 under Mayor Teddy Kollek, Chouraqui was in charge of cultural affairs, international and interconfessional relations of the City of Jerusalem. From 1969 to 1973 he served as Municipal Counsellor and President of the Commission of Culture And Foreign Relations of the city.

Since 1965, Chouraqui has been Director of Sinaï Publication of the Presses Universitaires de France (Paris), which publishes works in French essential to Jewish culture, including Luzzato, Buber, Kaufmann, Halkin and Maïmonide.

He was a member of the Tribunal of the World Zionist Organization, founding President of the Alliance Française of Jerusalem, President of the Israel Interfaith Committee, President of the Israeli Film Institute (Reginald Ford Foundation) and President of the Movement for a Middle East Confederation.

As member of the Executive Committee of the World Congress of Religions for Peace (1974-1983), Chouraqui has taken an active part in interfaith movements, and is active in the development of cross-cultural friendship, specially for fraternization between Jews, Christians and Muslims, through personal action.

He has written hundreds of articles in the world press, numerous lectures and books concerning the spiritual and political problems raised by the resurrection of the State of Israel. Universal by essence, his writings range from poetry and theatre to legal studies, fiction to philosophical essays, history and sociology, and in particular the translation and exegesis of the Old Testament, New Testament and the Koran.

His books had been translated into sixteen languages and won numerous literary prizes: the Golden Medal of the French language given by the Académie Française (1977), two prizes given by the French Academy of Moral and Political Sciences, the Sévigné prize (1970), the prize of the Zadoc Kahn Foundation, the prize Henry Hertz of the University La Sorbonne (Paris, 1991), Doctor Honoris Causa of the Catholic University of Louvain (Belgium, 1992), and the prize Leopold Lucas of the Evangelic University of Tübingen (Germany, 1993). Prize Méditerranée for ”Moïse” (France, 1995). Prize Renaudot Essai for ”Jerusalem, ville sanctuaire” (France, 1997). Chouraqui has been awarded Commandeur of the ”Légion d’Honneur” (1994), and Commandeur of Art and Letters (France, 1996), Officer of the National Order of the Ivory Coast (1970), Fighter against Nazism and National Fighter (two Israeli decorations), Freeman of the city of Jerusalem (1996). Price senator Giovanni Agnelli, International price for the interfaith dialogue between the cultural universes (1999).

Chouraqui is known for his translations and commentaries in French of the primary spiritual works of the monotheist religions. His life’s path (Algeria, France, Israel) has passed through the meeting points of peoples and their faiths (Judaism, Christianity and Islam).

Faithful to his Hebraïc roots as well as to his French and Arab sources, André Chouraqui belongs to a category of writers whose thoughts span several worlds.