By COLlive reporter
Take a left and then a right off Avenue de la Republique and you hit Rue Mendel Kalmenson.
A street in the French city of Aubervilliers was recently inaugurated to honor the late Rabbi Shalom Mendel Kalmenson outside the Jewish school which he founded and directed.
When the Chabad Shliach sought permits to open the school in 1963, the city’s minister of education and a member of the French Communist Party told him: “In Aubervilliers there will be no private Jewish day school.”
The official, Jack Ralite, used his influence with the various government offices to block the opening of the school. But he underestimated Kalmenson, a chossid who survived communism, Lubavitch.com reported.
“My father was a soldier. When he believed in something, he would not give up until he saw it fulfilled, no matter how long it took and how difficult it was,” says his daughter Haya Nisilevitch, director of the Chne-Or Day School.
In April 2002, Ralite was serving as Aubervilliers’ mayor and ended up signing the permits to build the large building complex. The building was completed in 2003; Rabbi Kalmenson, now well into his 80s, had prevailed.
Today the large educational complex Chne-Or Day School counts 650 students. The Jewish community, no stranger to the curse of anti-Semitism, has had blessed quiet in recent years, with local Jews out and about wearing their identity fearlessly, Lubavitch.com reported.
At the dedication ceremony, his widow Shlucha Basya Kalmenson was flanked by her family members as the school children unveiled the street sign and recited the 12 Pesukim, and vowed to continue to live Jewishly.