Young, Jewish and Staying in Paris
Mourning and anger after tragedy. This is currently the state of mind of the Jewish community in France. We have been cowardly attacked in the heart of the Jewish life, a kosher supermarket, a few hours before Shabbat. How much more can we take? Didn’t we say the same thing after Ilan Halimi and the Jewish school shooting in Toulouse. Enough is enough! France is home to the largest Jewish population in Europe, and in 2014, we saw 7,000 French olim, the highest number of all times. I believe that 2015 will follow that trend, but even so, the Jewish population in France will remain large and we will stay strong.
These attacks are clearly tragic and no words can express how saddened we are to add four of our brothers to the growing list of victims due to anti-semitism. Many people have asked how it is to be a Jew in France? I would say that nothing has changed. We have already experienced bad days in the past, but the difference now is that the jihadists attacked a non-Jewish entity. The impact is 1,000 times larger and we will hopefully get new measures to prevent these types of attacks in the future.
On Sunday, I had mixed feelings. When I saw 3,000,000 people marching as one man in the streets of France to show that “we are not afraid,” I felt proud to be French. But one question remained, why these 3,000,000 people did not march when it was only Jews targeted? Aren’t the Jews, French citizens as well? This is the feeling that most of my friends had on Sunday. A bitter feeling that makes you feel as an outcast. But we must stop complaining and go forward! The Jewish community in France is extremely appreciative of all the support messages coming form all over the world. The impact is very powerful and we pray that nobody out there experiences the same loss.
Yes we are hurt, but we are here and as long as we are in France we must continue to live. As one of the three residents of Moishe House Paris, we welcome a lot of Jewish young adults within our walls. A couple of our most active community members made Aliya in the past weeks. We support them in this move but we also are here to support the thousands who will remain in Paris and work to continue building the Jewish community here. We had a discussion with the two other residents if we should cancel January programs in the wake of the attacks. The answer was no. Why should we stop providing a place where young Jews can gather and feel that they belong to a wider community? We received a message yesterday from a community member asking us if we can plan a gathering for the ones who just need a place to be together. I realized that during these times, our work is more important than ever. We provide a landmark place where people want gather with their peers, and more than ever during difficult times. Another community member sent me a message a couple days ago telling me that she wants to be the next Moishe House resident. These are very symbolic wins.
Yes, we will continue to do what we do, with even more spirit. A lot of us want to stay in France for the moment, and we cannot survive, only waiting for what’s coming next. Of course, we do not forget and we will never forgive. But we are all sure that our brothers who died on Friday would want us to keep on celebrating life and never let ourselves down because of terrorism. Our government is very clear, Jews will no longer be the easy target. I hope and pray they will live up to this promise.
Aurélie, 29, Moishe House Paris founder and resident, was born in Paris and graduated from Skema business school. She is now working for a software provider as a marketing coordinator.