Young French communities fighting back


Amid terror attacks, widespread antisemitism and spiralling aliyah, communal leaders say that adversity is actually bringing many French Jews closer together.

"We have about 15,000 members, a number that's been stable for years, but recent events have made people closer to the community. They want to meet up and organise new activities," said Sacha Reingewirtz, president of France's Jewish student group, UEJF.

"Of course, organising events is different to how it was several years ago. Now, security is always a crucial factor," he added.

Ariel Goldman, French Social Jewish Fund (FSJU) president, said: "There is no figure showing a significant number of Jews have stopped attending community events.

"Even at the toughest times, right after attacks, people don't stay away.After the November attacks in Paris, synagogues had as many people as usual."

After the January 2015 attack on kosher supermarket Hyper Cacher, members of the community launched a series of operations to show they would not give up their traditions. A special gathering, "Hyper Shabbat", was promoted on social media, followed by a "Hyper Challah", where people baked together.

Mr Goldman said: "We do everything we can to encourage gatherings of all sorts. For 50 years the FSJU has supported associations that aim to bring Jews closer and we're doing it today."

One of those associations is Moishe House, the French branch of the international group supported by organisations including the American Joint Committee.

Moishe House uses apartments rented by young tenants who organise social events. It has two apartments in Paris, including one in the trendy Beaubourg museum neighbourhood.

Tenant Illan Haddad said: "The association interests people who wouldn't go to a synagogue because they feel they don't belong or they're scared. Not scared for security reasons… They're scared of official community organisations. Moishe houses are cozy places."

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