We all settled apprehensively into our seats in our Hebrew class. We were quite uneasy and felt out of sorts. Where were the promised policemen to guard the synagogue? It had been less than a week since a terrorist murdered four innocent Jewish people shopping in a kosher shop in the same city where my class was now taking place. One week later, returning to the same class, there were five policemen standing in front of the synagogue.
To get in, we went through two double-glass doors, each locked individually by the synagogue guard. Finally, we felt safer and more at ease to talk about what had happened. “Are you scared to go outside?” the teacher asked us.
“Yes,” replied one man. “I’m afraid to ride the metro.”
The teacher asked me if I was scared. I said, "No. Not for myself, but for my children. It is not easy living in France with my last name.” (I have an easily identifiable Jewish last name.) He nodded in understanding.
“How much longer will it be before things return to normal? – A month, two months, never?
I said, “At least a month, but people will always remember.” I compared this event with what happened in the USA during the September 11th attacks. The reaction people had was very similar. I am glad to have witnessed this kind of reaction from the French population. It is important to fight terrorism.
“Yes,” said Marc, another student. “I am very proud of our police and military. They are doing a good job at protecting our freedoms.” On our way out, we all greeted the policemen and thanked them.
It is not easy to speak about anti-Semitism in France’s history. The French are very ashamed of their behavior in the past – giving up thousands of Jewish people to the German-cooperative Vichy government during World War II. However, because of the recent terrorist attacks where gunmen entered the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and shot point-blank each of the cartoonists, this stirred up something in the hearts of the French population. People were outraged. Their freedom of speech was attacked. Within a few days, another gunman entered a kosher shop and held over 20 people hostage, killing four of them, simply for being Jewish.
These two attacks happened within days of each other. The terrorists were close friends, working together. I do sense these two linked terrorist attacks actually united the French people with its Jewish community. There is finally a realization that “we face a common enemy.” Hopefully, this will instigate the French population to speak up against anti-Semitism. I do see more news coverage on the subject and I even feel freedom to talk about it with French people in general.
Please continue to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Pray also for peace for the Jewish people in France, especially through Messiah Yeshua. Pray the Evangelical community will begin to stand against anti-Semitism and start to combat replacement theology and anti-Zionist views inside their churches. Pray God would raise up more people within the Christian community to have a heart for the Jewish people and with a desire to reach them with the gospel.
By: Life in Messiah Field Staff Member in France