General view of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France.
(photo credit: CHARLES PLATIAU / REUTERS)
In 1871, the historic Palace of Justice in the heart of Paris was largely destroyed by a fire. For centuries a residence of the French monarchs, in the 19th century the Palace was the headquarters of France’s judicial system.
The restorations lasted over 20 years. When completed, the site of the Palace had also incorporated some of the surrounding streets. Among them, was Rue Jerusalem, a short alley where pilgrims coming back from the Holy Land were historically lodged, according to the 1844 Dictionnaire administratif et historique des rues de Paris et de ses monuments, a dictionary of the public streets, monuments and buildings of Paris.
The name of Jerusalem hence disappeared from the city’s toponymy… until now.
As announced in a statement by the Central Consistory of France, the body that represents French Jewry in matters of religion, the city of Paris will soon dedicate a square to Jerusalem.
“I would like to thank the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, the Paris Council and the 17th Arrondissement Council for their decision to establish a Jerusalem Square in Paris,” the President of the Consistory Joel Mergui said on Wednesday.
The proposal of devoting a square of the city to Jerusalem was advanced by the Consistory in January, on the occasion of the visit of Israeli president Reuven Rivlin.
“In this sad period of recrudesce of racist and antisemitic acts, recalling the ties that unite the City of Paris and the Jewish Community is essential,” Hidalgo wrote in a letter to Mergui on May 15. “For this reason, your proposal of devoting a square to Jerusalem in the capital seems very sensible, also in order to remember the friendship and the unity between the City of Paris and the State of Israel,” she added.
The square will be established in the central 17th Arrondissement, in the site of the future European Center of Judaism (ECJ), which is currently under construction.
Just a few meters away, in the Sainte Odile Square, two alleys were named after the three children killed in the 2012 Toulouse terror attack, 8-year-old Myriam Monsonego, and brothers Arie and Gabriel Sandler, 6 and 3, who are buried in Jerusalem.
“The Jerusalem Square will be officially inaugurated by the Mayor of Paris and I hope that we will be very happy to celebrate not only the return of the name of Jerusalem in the French capital but also the opening of the European Center of Judaism!” Mergui concluded.
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