Ozar Hatorah (Hebrew: אוצר התורה, "treasure of Torah") is an organization for Orthodox Jewish education founded in 1945. Originally operating in Mandate Palestine, it later focused on religious Jewish education in Muslim countries in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as on the Sephardi communities in France, establishing schools, teaching both religious and secular subjects. The organization is financed by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, local communities, and private individuals.
In 1945, Syrian-born Isaac Shalom of New York City together with Joseph Shamah of Jerusalem and Ezra Teubal of Buenos Aires, concerned about what they saw as Jewish spiritual decline and intellectual impoverishment, founded Ozar Hatorah as a non-profit organization in Jerusalem under the chairmanship of Joseph Shamah. The organization began its work with an investigation of Jewish communities in several Arab countries and Palestine, with the aim of providing good teaching, food, and medical care.
At the beginning, Ozar Hatorah operated in what was then Palestine, opening 29 schools. After the establishment of the State of Israel, Ozar Hatorah ceased its operations in Israel and began opening schools throughout the Middle East and North Africa. It established 40 schools in Iran in which 8,600 students were enrolled, and also provided Jewish education in primary schools of the Alliance Israélite Universelle. In Syria, Ozar Hatorah is active in Aleppo and Damascus, where its school originally had 350 students. The schools are funded by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, in 1971, the Damascus school was singled out by the government education department as the school with the highest grades in the country. Ozar Hatorah was present in Tripoli, Libya before the Jewish population emigrated to Israel in 1950, and still operates schools in Morocco with a total enrollment of over 500 students. At its peak, the organization was operating an educational network serving some 17,000 students, ranging from first grade youngsters to learned students preparing to enter the rabbinate. After the massive emigration of Jews from North Africa to France, Ozar Hatorah extended its network to France, opening a first school in 1961 in Lyon.
By 1970, it was running 23 schools and a summer camp in Morocco, 41 schools and a summer camp in Iran, two elementary schools in Syria, and an elementary school in Lyon with a total enrollment of 13,610 students. In 1971, two schools were opened in two suburbs of Paris, Créteil and Sarcelles which now have some 1,000 students. Subsequently, schools were set up in Antony, Toulouse, Marseille, and other cities, bringing the total number of Ozar Hatorah schools in France to 20, some maintained with local funds. The organization plans to developed the schools to be a center for Jewish life with a mikveh, synagogue, adult classes, day camps, and other community activities.
On 31 December 2001, Molotov cocktails were thrown at the Ozar Hatorah school in the Paris suburb of Créteil, burning down a classroom. It was first condemned as an antisemitic attack, but the perpetrator turned out to be a pupil of the school.
On 19 March 2012, four people were killed, including a teaching rabbi and three children, when a gunman riding on a scooter opened fire on the Ozar Hatorah school in Toulouse.
- "Ozar Hatorah". Encyclopedia Judaica. 2nd edition, Volume 15, Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA. 2007. p. 556. Retrieved 19 March 2012.
- "The Concept of Ozar Hatorah". Ozar Hatorah official website. Retrieved 19 March 2012.
- AP (1 January 2002). "Assailants throw Molotov cocktails at Jewish school near Paris". Haaretz. Retrieved 20 March 2012.
- Lionel Laurent (19 March 2012). "From Middle East to France, a Jewish school's journey". Reuters. Retrieved 20 March 2012.
- Le Monde, AFP, Reuters (19 March 2012). "Une fusillade devant une école juive à Toulouse fait au moins trois morts". Le Monde (in french).
"Four killed in shooting at Jewish school in France". Haaretz. 19 March 2012. Retrieved 19 March 2012.