The two officials accepted Rabbi Korsia’s invitation and toured the Grand Synagogue Of Paris, called “Synagogue de la Victoire” in French, as guests of Rabbis Korsia and Sabag.
Rabbi Sabag said the meeting with friendly and intimate, not official. “It moved us all, and me more than most. Saudi is considered a hostile power, a conservative Muslim state. It was interesting to meet them. Our conversation and dialogue opened new avenues in both directions,” the Paris chief rabbi explained.
“Their visit lasted almost two hours. We showed them around the synagogue and explained the various characteristics of Judaism. It was their first time visiting a Jewish house of worship. It opened a brand new world for them to discover what Jews are like and what Jewish prayer and Jewish traditions are,” he added.
The Grand Synagogue’s rabbi showed the Saudi visitors a 200-year-old Torah scroll written on reddish gazelle-skin parchment. “It felt like we were making history. It was important for me to put on a new face on Saudi Arabia: not just a state sponsor of terrorism but a country that’s open to all religions,” Rabbi Sabag said.
When asked if he and Rabbi Korsia have been invited to visit the Saudi kingdom, Sabag replied, “Not yet, but I think we’re about to. The ambassador invited me to a Paris luncheon in honor of the secretary and I was the sole rabbi at an event attended by all of the Persian Gulf and Arab states’ ambassadors.”