Consistoire Central Israélite de Belgique / Centraal Israëlitisch Consistorie van België
- Central Jewish Consistory of Belgium
The legal basis for the Jewish faith’s recognition as an organized religion in our country is the decree of March 17, 1808. Its official recognition by the Belgian State came about in 1832, via the Royal Decree of May 21. A law of March 4, 1870, on the “temporal aspects of the faiths” stipulated the rights and duties of the recognized faiths in the kingdom. A Royal Decree of February 23, 1871, then confirmed the existence of the boards of directors of the five “synagogues” or communities that existed at the time, namely, those of Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent, Liège, and Arlon, under the aegis of the Jewish Central Consistory of Belgium. A Royal Decree of February 7, 1876, then went on to spell out the composition of the synagogues’ boards of directors and the procedures for electing their members (vote by secret ballot).
Each community delegates one or more of its members to represent it in the Consistory. Together these delegates form the Consistorial Assembly, which meets several times a year. Seventeen Jewish communities are currently recognized: three in Antwerp, one in Arlon, seven in Brussels, one in Charleroi, one in Knokke, one in Liège, one in Ostend, and one in Waterloo. The Consistorial Assembly’s role is similar to that of a non-profit association’s general assembly. Decisions on daily management matters, for their part, are made by the Executive Board or “Bureau.” The Secretariat is responsible for the Consistory’s daily operation, in parallel with the executive officers.
Whereas the Consistory’s role at the start was to represent and defend the temporal interests of the Jewish faith in dealing with the country’s civil authorities and to serve as the statutory speaking partner in all dealings with the State when it came to recognizing the Jewish communities and appointing their religious officers, the range of matters within the Consistory’s purview has broadened greatly, especially since the end of World War II, ranging from religious observance to cultural matters with education and the media in between.
Jewish Central Consistory of Belgium website consulted on 29/10/2014
Pierre-Alain Tallier (dir.), Gertjan Desmet & Pascale Falek-Alhadeff, Bronnen voor de geschiedenis van de Joden en het Jodendom in België, 19de-21ste eeuw, Brussel, ARA-AGR/Avant-Propos, 2016, 1328 p.