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Victims of supermarket attack remembered at Paris synagogue

PARIS (JTA)—Hundreds gathered with the leaders of France and Israel to remember the victims of an attack at a kosher supermarket near Paris.

French President Francois Hollande and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu joined several hundred members of the Jewish community at the memorial Sunday night at the Grand Synagogue of Paris, also known as the Synagogue de la Victoire. Hollande did not deliver remarks at the synagogue.

The sister of attack victim Yoav Hattab, one of four Jews killed in an attack Friday at the Hyper Cacher market, urged those gathered at the memorial to light four extra candles each Shabbat “so they may remain etched in our hearts.” The sister, who asked not to be named, also played a recording of Hattab singing the Modeh Ani prayer.

Netanyahu called on Europe and the rest of the world to support Israel’s fight against terror as supporters chanted his “Bibi” and “Israel will live, Israel will overcome.”

“Like the civilized world stands united with France, so it needs to stand with Israel in its fight against the same enemy exactly: radical Islam,” Netanyahu said.

“It’s a short distance between the fatwa against Salman Rushdie, to the murder of Theo Van Gogh in the Netherlands, to the attacks on Jews in Israel, to the murders at Charlie Hebdo and the Hyper Cacher,” he added.

The gathering Sunday evening was organized by the Consistoire, the body responsible for religious services for the French Jewish community. It was held immediately after a march in which hundreds of thousands walked through the heart of Paris in support of democratic values.

The march was originally scheduled as an act of public protest following the slaying of 12 people on Jan. 7 by Islamist terrorists at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a weekly which published many items lampooning Islam.

But organizers later expanded it to commemorate the victims of attacks at the supermarket and a police officer slain in Paris on Thursday.

Netanyahu commended the “remarkable bravery of French law enforcement” during the terrorist attacks and praised the actions of a Muslim employee of the kosher supermarket who helped several Jews escape into the refrigeration room without the shooter’s knowledge. He also reiterated his call to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

“We need to acknowledge that we are facing a global network of radical Islam of hate. I believe this threat will grow when Europe sees the return of thousands of terrorists from the killing fields of the Middle East, the danger will be graver and it will become a grave threat to humanity if radical Islam gets nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu said. “So we need to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons. We need to support each other in this fateful struggle against radical Islamic fanatics wherever they are.”

Cherif and Said Kouachi, brothers in their 30s, perpetrated the attack at Charlie Hebdo. They were killed Friday when police overtook the printing shop where they were holed up north of Paris. That same day, Amedy Coulibaly, an associate with whom the brothers had been recruited as jihadists to fight in Syria, took more than 20 people hostage at Hyper Cacher and killed four. Coulibaly was killed when police stormed the shop.

According to some reports, Coulibaly had maps of Jewish schools in his car on Jan. 8, a day before the attack on Hyper Cacher, when he killed a police officer south of the city center.

French Chief Rabbi Haim Korsia said the march Sunday shows the French Jewish community “is not as isolated as we thought. For months we have been asking where is France? Today we saw France, and the France we saw was a spitting image of biblical descriptions of Jerusalem, where brothers unite.”

The synagogue rally also featured the singing of Israel’s national anthem, Hatikvah, followed by the French national anthem, La Marseillaise.

World leaders, hundreds of thousands march for ‘unity’ in Paris

(JTA) -Hundreds of thousands of people marched in a unity rally in Paris to denounce terrorism and honor the victims of three attacks in Paris over three days.

No official police estimates have been released on the number of marchers at the rally Sunday, but media outlets put the crowd at more than 1 million.

Dozens of world leaders attended, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who marched in the front row with French President Francois Hollande. The two were several marchers apart, with Hollande in the middle. It is the closest the leaders have been seen together in years, according to The New York Times.

There were no speeches at the rally. Marchers carried signs in French reading “I am Charlie,” referring to the satirical magazine where 12 staff members and security forces were killed on Jan. 7. Other signs read in French “I am a Jew,” representing the four men killed during an attack Friday on a kosher supermarket in a Paris suburb. A police officer was also killed Thursday by one of the Charlie Hebdo attackers.

Family members of the 17 victims of the three attacks led one section of the march. Christian, Jewish and Muslim community leaders also participated.

Jewish marchers in kippahs and black hats and Muslims in head coverings were noticeable at the march.

Thousands of French soldiers and police secured the march, including snipers on roofs along the march’s route.

In Jerusalem, a solidarity march at City Hall timed to coincide with the Paris march drew about 1,000 marchers.

Also on Sunday, video surfaced showing kosher supermarket shooter Amedy Coulibaly pledging allegiance to the Islamic State and saying that he coordinated the attack with Cherif and Said Kouachi, the Charlie Hebdo shooters who were killed Friday by police. The Kouachi brothers had said they were financed by Al Qaida.

The video was prepared by Coulibaly to be released after the attack.

Coulibaly is now also being connected to the shooting of a jogger on the same day as the attack on the magazine.

Supermarket victim Yoav Hattab recently returned from Birthright trip

(JTA)—Yoav Hattab, one of the victims of last week’s Paris kosher supermarket shooting, recently returned from a Birthright Israel trip.

Hattab, 21, was one of four victims of the Friday shooting, which followed an attack earlier in the week at the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo in Paris, which claimed 12 victims.

“In the past year, Taglit-Birthright Israel took a strategic position to invest and significantly increase its actions to bring more young Jewish adults to Israel from France and will continue to do so under any circumstances,” Taglit-Birthright Israel CEO Gidi Mark said in a statement. “My thoughts are with the families and with the Jewish community of France at these difficult times.”

The Israeli Prime Minister’s office confirmed Sunday that all four victims of the supermarket attack would be buried in Israel.

A Facebook page honoring Hattab was launched on Saturday.

Paris aliyah event draws 500

PARIS (JTA)—The slaying of four Jews at a Paris kosher market may cause a substantial increase in the number of Jews who will immigrate to Israel this year, Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky said.

Sharansky arrived in Paris Sunday along with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman. The three are in France to attend a mass rally in the French capital in protest of the killing of 17 people last week by Islamists.

In Paris, Sharansky and Liberman also attended a previously scheduled event promoting aliyah.

“Before the attack, our estimates spoke of 10,000 new olim in 2015,” Sharansky told JTA Sunday, using the Hebrew word for Jews who immigrate to Israel. “In two weeks time we will reexamine this estimate in light of the current developments.”

The aliyah event was scheduled months ago and organizers decided to go ahead with it despite the killings last week at the offices of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo and the murder of four Jews two days later at the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket outside Paris.

Some 500 people showed up at the event to inquire about the possibility of making aliyah, according to Daniel Benhaim, the Jewish Agency’s chief envoy in Paris.

“The fact that hundreds showed up here despite the march and the transport problems it creates in central Paris is indicative of how central the concept of aliyah has become for French Jews in recent years,” he told JTA.

“Israel is doing all it can do for the French Jewish community,” Liberman told JTA at the aliyah fair. “There are contacts in place and though I cannot specify, rest assured we are helping as best we can.”

The link between the threats facing the Jewish community and France in general “sadly cannot be more obvious,” Liberman told prospective immigrants and journalists at the fair.

The four Jews were killed at the kosher supermarket in the same way as the caricaturists were at the satirical magazine three days earlier, he said. “And so it is clear we are dealing with terrorist attacks that do not stem from any territorial claim.”

“We are no longer at home here,” said Yves Lellouche, a member of the Union of Kosher Consumers of France. “Fifteen of my relatives are attending a Jewish school near the site of the kosher store that was attacked. I fear for their safety. I fear for my safety.”

Lellouche said he would attend the march “but only out of curiosity, not as a militant because this is no longer my country. It was a temporary home.”

Others attendees, including Serge Luz, said they intended to march as a political act. “I see no future for myself here, but I am still French and I am still attached to the values this march is meant to defend,” he said.

At the event, Liberman spoke with Leo Feldmann, a 90-year-old Holocaust survivor who told him he wants to leave France as soon as possible. Liberman greeted Feldman with the traditional “Next year in Jerusalem,” to which Feldmann replied: “Yes, thank you but I prefer Tel Aviv.”

Also on Sunday, Rabbi Menachem Margolin, director of the European Jewish Association, which advocates for Jewish communities in Europe, criticized calls by Jewish leaders like Sharansky for Jews in Paris and throughout Europe to make aliyah.

“I regret that after every anti-Semitic attack in Europe, the Israeli government dispenses the same statements about the importance of aliyah rather than take all measures ... at its disposal in order to increase the safety of Jewish life in Europe,” Margolin told the Hebrew-language news website NRG.

“The Israeli government must stop this Pavlovian response every time there is an attack against Jews in Europe,” Margolin said.

“Every such Israeli campaign severely weakens and damages the Jewish communities that have the right to live securely wherever they are,” Margolin said.

‘France will no longer be France’ if Jews leave, prime minister says

(JTA)—The soul of the French republic would be at risk if there were a mass exodus of Jews from France, the country’s prime minister said.

In an interview published Saturday, Manuel Valls said that the emancipation of the Jews was a “founding principle” of the republic and that if they were to leave, “The French Republic will be judged a failure.”

“If 100,000 French people of Spanish origin were to leave, I would never say that France is not France anymore,” said Valls, who is the son of Spanish immigrants. “But if 100,000 Jews leave, France will no longer be France. The French Republic will be judged a failure.”

In the interview with Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic, Valls acknowledged that many Jews have left for Israel and other countries in recent years, but remained confident that most Jews will remain.

“The Jews of France are profoundly attached to France but they need reassurance that they are welcome here, that they are secure here,” Valls said.

In the interview, conducted before the attacks on a French satirical magazine and a kosher supermarket near Paris last week, Valls said that Jews may have been “marginalized” at times in France, but they were never expelled as they were from Spain and other countries.

Valls has spoken out about the threat of anti-Semitism to France’s Jews. He also has worked to ban performances by French anti-Semitic comedian Dieudonne, who invented an inverted Nazi salute called the quenelle.

“There is a new anti-Semitism in France,” Valls said. “We have the old anti-Semitism, and I’m obviously not downplaying it, that comes from the extreme right, but this new anti-Semitism comes from the difficult neighborhoods, from immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa, who have turned anger about Gaza into something very dangerous. Israel and Palestine are just a pretext. There is something far more profound taking place now.”

Valls stressed that it is legitimate to criticize Israel’s politics and policies. But what is taking place in France, he said, “is radical criticism of the very existence of Israel, which is anti-Semitic. There is an incontestable link between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. Behind anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism.”

Paris kosher supermarket victims to be buried in Israel

JERUSALEM (JTA)—The four victims of the attack on a kosher supermarket in a Paris suburb will be buried in Israel, the prime minister’s office confirmed.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “acceded to the request of the families of the victims of the murderous terrorist attack at the Jewish supermarket in Paris and instructed all relevant government officials to assist in bringing them for burial in Israel,” said a statement released Sunday by Netanyahu’s office.

Israeli media reported earlier Sunday that the families of the victims were considering burying them in Jerusalem.

The funerals are scheduled to take place on Tuesday, according to the statement. Government minister Limor Livnat is coordinating the arrangements.

Robert Ejnes, director of the CRIF the umbrella organization of French Jewish communities, is coordinating the transfer of the bodies on the French side.

The victims were identified over the weekend as Yoav Hattab, 22; Yohan Cohen, 22; Philippe Braham, 45; and François-Michel Saada, 55.

Hollande to Jews: Schools and synagogues will be protected

(JTA)—French President Francois Hollande promised French Jewish leaders that Jewish schools and synagogues will be protected.

“He told us that all the schools, all the synagogues will be protected, if necessary, on top of the police, by the army,” Roger Cukierman, president of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France, or CRIF, said Sunday morning after a meeting with Hollande at the Elysee Palace.

“We’re wounded, we’re angry. We think substantial, urgent and serious measures need to be taken,” Cukierman told reporters before the meeting.

Hollande also said he would visit the Grand Synagogue of Paris after a solidarity march on Sunday to mark the terror attacks in France last week. He will be joined at the synagogue by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In a national address Friday evening, Hollande called an attack on Friday at a kosher supermarket near Paris a “dreadful anti-Semitic attack.” The U.S. State Department also labeled the attack anti-Semitic.

“We condemn in the strongest terms yesterday’s cowardly anti-Semitic assault against the innocent people in the kosher supermarket,” Chanan Weissman, a spokesman for the State Department, told The Jerusalem Post on Saturday.

Amedy Coulibaly, a 32-year-old Islamist who was part of the cell of brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi, who perpetrated the Charlie Hebdo attack on Jan. 7, told a Paris television station during the hostage crisis that he attacked the supermarket because he wanted to target Jews.

Polish students honored for exploring history of Jewish towns

WARSAW, Poland (JTA)—Some 1,200 Polish students and teachers took part in the concluding program of the School of Dialogue, which explores the history of Jewish towns and cities in the country.

Bogdan Borusewicz, the speaker of the Polish Senate, thanked the students for their participation in the project, which builds “tolerance and understanding of other cultures and religions.”

At a gala Friday, the most interesting projects created by the students were honored.

Forum for Dialogue is the largest and oldest Polish non-governmental organization engaging in Polish-Jewish dialogue. Its School of Dialogue project works with youth from all over Poland, helping them discover the Jewish past of their towns, as well as making them feel responsible for preserving the memory.

Stephen Hazan Arnoff named new CEO of JCC Association

(JTA)—Stephen Hazan Arnoff has been named the new chief executive officer of the Jewish Community Center Association.

Arnoff succeeds Alan Finkelstein, who announced last year he would retire from the position after more than two decades. Arnoff will take up the position in February.

The Jewish Community Center Association board of directors unanimously approved the appointment on Jan. 8.

Arnoff, who lives in Jerusalem with his wife and four children, is currently the director of the Office of Culture, Community, and Society at Shalem College in Jerusalem. He previously served as executive director of the 14th Street Y in New York. He will be based at the Jewish Community Center Association’s New York City office and will also have an office in Jerusalem, the JCCA said in a statement.

“I am deeply honored by the confidence of JCC Association leadership and look forward to our work together. JCCs touch more Jews than any other institutional framework in North America,” said Hazan Arnoff. “The challenge is to maximize JCCs’ potential to inspire and engage the next generation of Jews who now live in a world of choice. This is an extraordinary opportunity.”

Russ and Daughters honored by New York State Senate

NEW YORK (JTA)—The iconic Jewish appetizing shop Russ and Daughters was honored with a resolution marking its 100th anniversary by the New York State Senate.

The resolution, which was drafted in June 2014, was presented to the Russ and Daughters staff Wednesday night by New York State Senator Daniel Squadron.

“Russ and Daughters first opened in 1914,” the resolution read, “and from the beginning, served as a focal point for the immigrant neighborhood that has been the starting place for generations of Americans.”

The restaurant has expanded in the past year. In May, a Russ and Daughters cafe opened a few blocks away from the original shop, which has been located at 179 E. Houston Street since 1920. A 75-seat kosher Russ and Daughters cafe will open in early 2015 at the Jewish Museum.

Netanyahu says French Jews welcome in Israel

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said French Jews would be welcomed in Israel.

Netanyahu made the comment as he prepared to depart Sunday for a unity rally in the wake of three terror attacks in France in three days last week that left 17 people dead. Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman and Jewish Agency head Natan Sharansky joined Netanyahu on the trip.

“This evening I will attend a special rally, along with French President Francois Hollande, with the Jewish community in France. I will say there that any Jew who wants to immigrate to Israel will be received here with open arms,” Netanyahu said.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is also scheduled to attend the rally, according to the Palestinian Maan news agency. Abbas told Hollande Saturday that the Palestinian people support France in its war against “this terrorism which has no religion,” the official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported.

Abbas will be accompanied at the rally by chief Palestinian peace negotiator Saeb Erekat and is scheduled to meet with Hollande on Sunday. Some 40 other world leaders are also scheduled to attend.

Up to one million people are expected to attend the rally, which will march about three miles through the streets of Paris. The march is to be secured by thousands of soldiers and police.

 

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