Hacham Abraham Hazzan

A Short Tribute

Hacham Abraham Hazzan, son of Hacham Machluf Hazzan, was born in 1920 in the village of Tiaret, Algeria. He began his studies with his father, who was the rabbi of Tiaret, and continued at the Etz Haim yeshiva in Oran and Algiers. In 1939, at the age of 19, Hacham Abrahm Hazzan was ordained to the rabbinate by Hacham David Ashkenazi and Hacham Yitzhak Rosh, and went to serve in the town of Jrivil and the city of Saïda. Hacham Abraham Hazzan was drafted to the French military during the Second World War. After the war ended, he served as Chief Rabbi of the French army in Morocco until 1958.

In 1945, at the end of WWII, his teacher Hacham Yitzhak Rosh founded the Ecole Normale Hebraique (the Alliance Israelite Universelle teacher training college) in Casablanca. Hacham Abraham Hazzan joined the educational venture and became one of the institution's pillars of strength.

Hacham Abraham Hazzan was also an activist in the Zionist movement, which was outlawed in Morocco; this brought about his expulsion from Morocco in 1958. He was granted the National Warrior Award for his activities in 1987 by Israel's Ministry of Defense.

In 1961 Hacham Abraham Hazzan moved to Strasbourg, France, where he officiated as Rabbi of the Alsace region military and established the Sephardi community in Strasbourg. When the French military forces left Algeria, he joined Professor André Neher and his wife, Professor Rina Neher, in organizing the Rescue Train mission that helped evacuate 700 children and their families from Algeria to Strasbourg.

On Sukkot of 5728 (1968), Hacham Abraham Hazzan immigrated to Israel with his family. He was appointed Rabbi of Israel's police force, border police and penitentiary services in 1970 and served in this position for 22 years. Part of his work included the consolidation of educational settings within prisons. In 1972, he founded the Keren Teshuva NGO to support released prisoners seeking to lead a religious life, study Torah and earn a livelihood.

In 1973, Hacham Abraham Hazzan was appointed Chairman of the Union for Immigrants from France and French-speaking countries, a position he filled until 1982. He was active in promoting aliyah from France and North Africa and involved in the social and economic integration of the new immigrants in Israel; he combatted anti-Semitism and anti-Israel attitudes in French-speaking countries and in Europe.

Hacham Abraham Hazzan passed away on 23 Nissan, 5763 (2003) and was buried in Jerusalem. He is the author of Yom Kippur – A War and a Prayer, published in French.

A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Redemption of Israel' in which he condemns the splitting and divisiveness that prevents the Divine Spirit from giving the breath of Life to the Ingathering of the Exiles

History calls upon us again, uniting us and atoning for its transgressions, and from the smoldering ruins of ten thousand Jewish split fragments, God commands: Make way…Israel, I never abandoned your mother, this was but a temporary divorce. I am ready for reconciliation. Come together under a single roof… Alas! The nation of God does not look to the heavens, while God, in His despair, awaits its healing by the Ingathering of the Exiles. Alas, a thousand shards remain separate, the Ingathering remains in its scattered state…narrow-minded splits and petty differences everywhere obstruct entry to the Valley of Renewal, and prevent the Divine Spirit from giving the breath of Life to a new order.

Translated from the French, found in Avinoam Rosenack, Between Ashkenaz and North Africa: Halakha, Meta-Halakha and Education in Rabbi Abraham Hazzans' Writings, Pe'amim Journal for Jewish Communities