Israeli, US Jewry bring Hanukka cheer to Paris Synagogue ceremony

Thousands of Parisians joined Jews from around the world on the fourth night of Hanukka, in tribute to the January Paris attacks at Hyper Cacher, Charlie Hebdo.

December 10, 2015 04:08
3 minute read.
paris Synagogue

The families of the victims of the Hyper Cacher terrorist attack (Philippe Braham, Yohan Cohen, Yoav Hattab, and François-Michel Saada) in Paris last year light the Hanukka candles at the "Let There Be Light" - Unity Gathering in Paris. (photo credit: ISRAEL BARDUGO)

PARIS – A grand ceremony took place Wednesday night at the Paris Great Synagogue on Rue de la Victoire.

The beautiful old building, with its tainted glass windows, presented a spectacular background for some of Israel’s top musicians in the special “Let there be Light” Hanukka show.

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Colorful lighting and an orchestra turned the synagogue almost into a scene out of fairytale.

Thousands of Parisians joined Jews from around the world on the fourth night of Hanukka, in tribute to the January Paris attacks at Hyper Cacher and Charlie Hebdo.

The evening opened with family members of the victims killed at the Hyper Cacher attack last January lighting the Hanukka candles.

The kadish prayer was also recited, followed by greetings delivered by Israeli ambassador to Paris Aliza Bin-Noun. The second part of the evening was dedicated to the joys of Jewish and Israeli musical hits, with the crowd cheering and singing along.

Israeli singers Yehoram Gaon, Ohad Moskowitz, Itzik Dadya, Amir Haddad, Uziya Tzadok and Avi Miller arrived to Paris especially for this occasion – responding to the call of American Nachum Segal to take part at the performance.

Segal is the president and anchorman of the Nachum Segal Networks (NSM radio), a NY based 24 hour Jewish radio station. Its flagship program is JM in the AM, where Segal hosts intellectuals, politicians, celebrities, musicians and prominent Jewish figures, bringing to both Israeli and American Jews interesting, timely news and Jewish content.

Segal told The Jerusalem Post that for the last 32 years he has been undertaking an unintended Jewish unity initiative, traveling with his radio program to many Jewish communities across the US and Israel where Jews have been confronted with hardships.

“Our goal is to bridge between Israeli Jewry and American Jewry,” said Segal. “We went to Sderot in the summer of the Gaza war. Our goal at the time was double; to show the people of Sderot that there are Jews around the world thinking of them and reaching out to them, and also to tell American Jews how the people of Sderot were feeling and coping with the situation of being hit by rockets on a daily basis.’’ Segal said that after the attacks in Paris last January, he knew that his program must go to France.

“The Unity Initiative had to land in Europe for the first time. This was clear to us after the attack against the Hyper Cacher. The attacks this November only strengthened our resolve to come here, and bring the best of the Jewish music to the Parisian Jewish community.”

Israeli singer Ohad Moskowitz told the Post that when Segal asked him to come, he agreed immediately. “I now live in Israel, but I grew up in Antwerp, Holland. I know exactly what it feels to be a Jew wearing a kippa walking in the streets of Europe. The opportunity of brining Hanukka joy and happiness to Parisian Jews was something I could not refuse.” Moskowitz swept the French audience with a song by French-Canadian singer Celine Dion and by his favorite hit “Boi Kallah.”

Samuel Levy, a French Jew now living in Manhattan, served as the event’s coordinator. “The community in Paris is so happy and excited about the concert this evening, this beautiful musical gift delivered by both US and Israeli Jewry,” he said. “French Jews want to show once again that ‘they are not afraid’ – a phrase which became the slogan of all French citizens after the November attacks. The Jews here are not afraid to celebrate Hanukka” he added.

Indeed, tight security did not deter thousands of Jews and non- Jews from arriving to the synagogue.

“This is our way to show that life continues in Paris, and that Jewish life continues in Paris, but at the same time also to show that we will never forget the victims of Charlie Hebdo and Hyper Cacher. They are with us every day. Be it in moments of sorrow or in moments of Joy,” said attendee Sandrine, 28 years old.

Her friend Claude echoed, “Hanukka music is the best way to show that the French Jewish community is alive and thriving. We are not alone. Jews from around the world are with us.’’

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