Avram Azoulay, a 48-year-old resident of Har Homa who moved to Israel decades
ago from Toulouse, described the Ozar Hatorah school shooting on Monday as an anchor of a
community that fears growing animosity from its neighbors.
He said a
change had taken place in the city in recent years, and residents no longer feel
comfortable or safe to walk around wearing a kippa or to talk openly about
politics or Israel.
Azoulay largely blamed the current fears in the
community on what he said is an influx of Arab and Muslim
“This drew more and more people to the Jewish schools in
recent years. They used to have to beg people to join the Jewish schools, now
people are coming on their own because they don’t feel safe studying with the
goyim anymore,” he said.
Azoulay added that he spoke to some friends in
Toulouse after the shooting and that “everyone is stunned. The children are in
trauma and in shock and everyone is worried there can be another
Ozar Hatorah is “a synagogue, a school, a central place for the
Jewish community in Toulouse,” he said.
“And now he’s lost his eightyear-
old daughter, it’s terrible,” Azoulay added, in reference to the school’s
principal Rabbi Yaakov Monsonego, whose daughter Miriam was gunned down on
“The rabbi is very open with the religion, his approach is to try
and welcome people in and not push them away. Everyone loves him because he
knows how to speak to people who are not religious,” he said.
Rappaport, a 69-year-old native of Toulouse, sounded a somewhat different tone
about the safety of being a Jew in the city.
He described Jewish Toulouse
as a very well-known, recognized and integrated community of around 25,000
members. Rappaport, who immigrated to Israel nine years ago, said there is no
widespread feeling of tensions or anti-Semitism in this city, though there were
a few anti-Semitic incidents in 2002.
He also said there are good
relations between the Jewish community and the Muslim community, as well as the
Christian community and local politicians.
However, Rappaport did say
that “this is a small school, on a small street, you need to know that it is
there. To come at 8 a.m. and shoot children in the back, you need to know what
you are doing, you need to have been prepared. This was a calculated incident.
This is an anti-Semitic incident, in my opinion.”