|Photo by: REUTERS/Jean-Philippe Arles |
Shooting stuns Toulouse chief rabbi, Jewish groups
By GIL SHEFLER
Rabbi Avraham Weill said his community in "misery" after attack; AJC, World Jewish Congress condemn assault on Jewish school.
Jewish groups around the world expressed outrage while the chief rabbi of the
southern French city of Toulouse, Rabbi Avraham Weill, was at a loss for words
on Monday after news broke that four people – a teacher, his two children and
another child – were shot dead by an unknown gunman outside a local Jewish
“It’s difficult to express what we’re going through,” said the
religious leader over the phone from France. “I know the dead and wounded
Weill, who became chief rabbi almost two years ago, said he
was informed of what had happened just as he was leaving his synagogue. He said
he was told the assailant opened fire from his scooter before fleeing the scene
and did not enter the school, as some reports claimed.
“We are in a state
of misery today,” the 29-year-old rabbi said.
There are about 20,000 Jews
in Toulouse and some 600 Jewish children attend Ozar Hatorah, the school where
the attack occurred, Weill said.
While there have been small anti-Semitic
incidents in the past, the rabbi said there was no reason to suspect an attack
of such magnitude.
“There was no phone call, no warning that this might
happen,” he said.
Weill said his top priority now was to help the
families of the victims and prepare the bodies of the dead for burial.
am fully committed to helping the community and assisting in any way the widow
of the man who died,” he said.
The American Jewish Joint Distribution
Committee (JDC), a Jewish relief group, said it was “horrified and outraged by
today’s barbaric attack at the Ozar Hatorah school in Toulouse.”
joint statement, JDC president Penny Blumenstein, CEO Steven Schwager, and
Europe director Alberto Senderey said the group “mourns the loss of these
innocent lives and stands together, at this time of sorrow, with the entire
French Jewish community. We hope and pray that the perpetrators will be swiftly
apprehended and brought to justice.”
The American Jewish Committee said
its prayers went out to the grieving community and wished those wounded in the
attack a quick recovery.
“This is a brazen assault on France and French
society, and another telling reminder of the dangers that exist for Jewish
communities in today’s world,” said AJC executive director David
The World Jewish Congress said the fact that the unknown
assailant, who escaped the scene of the crime on a scooter and is still at
large, picked a school as his target was particularly deplorable.
Jews everywhere in the world are weeping in sorrow and disgust in the face of
this despicable terrorist attack,” said WJC president Ronald Lauder. “Targeting
children is a particularly sick and vile act, and nothing can justify it. This
attack is an attack on all of us.”
The Jewish Federations of North
America (JFNA), the umbrella group for Jewish fundraisers across the continent,
expressed its solidarity with its Jewish brethren across the
“Words cannot describe the shock and outrage – and deep
mourning – that result from a terror attack that is specifically directed at
children,” said JFNA’s CEO and president, Jerry Silverman.
“We have long
known that Jews can be targets of vicious attacks wherever they are in the
world. And it is clear that even today, in 2012, that statement remains true.
Jewish federations stand with the Jews of France at this time of
The security arm of the US Jewish federations asked Jewish
officials to remain vigilant in the wake of the deadly shooting, citing the
possibility of copycat attacks.
“While this event initially appears to be
localized, we are always concerned about the possibility of copycat attacks,” a
spokesman for the Secure Community Network, the Jewish Federations of North
America’s security initiative, told JTA. “We’ve been in contact with our
European partners and are continuing to monitor the situation.”