RABBI YECHIEL ECKSTEIN, president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, visits a memorial site in Paris yesterday dedicated to the victims of Friday’s terrorist attacks.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Jewish institutions affiliated with the Chabad hassidic movement throughout France will be getting their security upgraded following Friday’s terrorist attacks in Paris, thanks to a grant by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, the organization announced on Monday.
At least 130 people were killed in a series of coordinated assaults across the French capital on Friday, including one attack that targeted a concert hall that was until recently owned by Jews and frequently used for Jewish events. Islamic State took responsibility in a video posted online.
The IFCJ pledged nearly $90,000 to bolster security at 25 synagogues and schools run by Chabad, including in Paris and Toulouse. The money will go toward hiring additional guards and electronic security systems.
“The fellowship is also considering other steps to help improve security for the entire French-Jewish community,” the group announced.
“Amid the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris, it is critical that we help better protect French-Jewish communal institutions, which have been targets in the past,” IFCJ founder Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein explained. “At the same time, we are extending our immediate support to any French Jew who wishes to leave France and make aliya to Israel.”
Over the past year relations between the IFCJ and the Jewish Agency have deteriorated as the group has begun its own international aliya program.
“It is vital that the Jews of France know we stand sideby- side with them and will do whatever is necessary to help their community at this challenging time,” Eckstein said, adding that the IFCJ is running several programs to help new immigrants to Israel with rent, employment counseling and Hebrew lessons.
“The last few days have been living hell for the citizens of France, and especially for the Jews of Paris. Naturally we feel like sitting ducks, very aware that our community centers, synagogues and educational institutions are in realistic danger at all times,” said Rabbi Mendel Azimov, the director of Chabad of Paris.
Following the shooting of four Jews at Paris’s Hyper Cacher supermarket last January, France boosted security around Jewish institutions, deploying thousands of troops at Jewish sites throughout the country.
In addition to some 10,000 troops dispatched throughout France, 4,700 police officers were deployed at all 717 Jewish schools across the country.
Following the most recent attack, the Conseil Représentatif des Institutions Juives de France (CRIF), the French Jewish community umbrella organization, called for a “world war against the monstrosity of jihadist fanaticism.”