Jewish youth leader: Paris feels more like Israel now

A French Jewish community youth leader reflects on the atmosphere in the streets of Paris in the aftermath of a series of deadly terror attacks.

November 16, 2015 11:21
2 minute read.

Paris the day after: Reflection of a Jewish youth leader

Paris the day after: Reflection of a Jewish youth leader


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"It's very different to the Charlie Hebdo and Hypercacher attacks," says Parisian Jewish community youth leader Oren Giorno, two days after a series of deadly terror attacks struck the French capital, killing 129 people. This time the targets aren't political or religious, he explains. "It's the bars, the theater that hosted a rock concert. We can be attacked anywhere - not because of what we think or believe, but just for being in the streets.

"It's more like in Israel now," says Giorno, Youth Coordinator at the MJLF reform movement, who spent several years of his life living in Israel. "That feeling, that you can walk in the street and you don't know where it will come from, but it can come, and we think it will happen again."

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Giorno was in Brussels on the night of the attacks, meeting with leaders of French-speaking Jewish communities. "When we heard about the attacks, the first thing I thought about was --of course my family -- but also all the kids I work with." He signed onto Facebook and checked everyone was OK, which to his relief they were. He notes that since the attacks occurred on a Friday night, most Jews were at home having a Sabbath meal with their families. Having spoken to various young members of his community, he says he has come across feelings of  worry and fear, but also determination not to let terror win.

“The Saturday morning after the attacks we had a difficult decision to make,” he add. “We didn’t know whether to close the community and tell everyone to stay home because it’s safer, or if to continue with our lives." In the end, they chose to go ahead with the weekly Saturday morning prayer service, which included both a bar and bat mitzva ceremony. "There were 250 guests and we had a very good prayer service and I think it was important to keep the building open and have a moment of gathering altogether after the attacks," he reflects. "And I think it is very Jewish to keep the life first."

He also opines that the Jewish youth movements should unite in a show of solidarity with the victims of the attacks, "to show we care about France and all the people here, and we will continue to live our lives proudly."

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