Yesterday I had the pleasure of hearing the Chief Rabbi of France, Haim Korsia, speak to at Park East Synagogue. The program began with children from Park East Day School singing the French, Israeli and American national anthems. Rabbi Arthur Schneier next spoke about being freed from Auschwitz in 1945 and about the importance of preserving that freedom.
The line that stood out most to me in the Chief Rabbi’s remarks was “There are no minor crimes”-in other words, any attack against a people must be responded to. The Chief Rabbi also spoke about dreaming of a better France. His speech was very heartfelt and helped give me hope for the future of the French Jewish Community.
After Rabbi Korsia spoke, 5 children from Park East Day School said words to him in French and gave him a special gift. Then Mayor DeBlasio gave an address, proclaiming that “no Jewish community in Europe should have to beg for protection.” DeBlasio also commended President Hollande and especially Prime Minister Valls, who said “if the Jews leave, France will no longer be France.” DeBlasio also called on European leaders to take after the example of New York City, which despite being the most diverse city in the world has had people learn to get along.
It was a powerful event that demonstrated to me that while anti-Semitism is on the rise, the Jewish community is not without friends.