'The soul of France is burning': French Jews shocked by Notre Dame blaze

"We are all affected. Believers and non-believers, Christians and non-Christians."

Smoke billows from the Notre Dame Cathedral after a fire broke out, in Paris, France, April 15, 2019 (photo credit: REUTERS/JULIE CARRIAT)
Smoke billows from the Notre Dame Cathedral after a fire broke out, in Paris, France, April 15, 2019
(photo credit: REUTERS/JULIE CARRIAT)
“We are all affected. Believers and non-believers, Christians and non-Christians.”
French Jewish leaders expressed shock and sadness over the fire that devastated the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on Monday night.
“Very sad images of the Notre Dame Cathedral tonight. Our friendship and prayers to @Eglisecatho, and especially to Mgr Aupetit,” the chief rabbi of France, Haim Korsia, tweeted, addressing the Bishops’ Conference of France, and the archbishop of Paris Monsignor Michel Aupetit.

“We are all in shock, believers and non-believers, Christians and non-Christians, because a jewel of the history of France and Christianity as much as of the heritage of Europe is currently in flames,” said Joel Mergui, president of the Consistoire Central Israélite de France, the body responsible for the religious affairs of the French Jewish community.
“This magnificent cathedral has been part of Paris, of the life of Parisians and French people for almost a thousand years. I express my deep solidarity and my strong sympathy to our Catholic friends, particularly affected on the eve of Easter,” he added.
Support to the firefighters was expressed by the Representative Council of French Jewry (CRIF), the political umbrella organization representing all the Jewish communities and organizations in the country before the government.
“When I saw the images of Notre-Dame burning, I felt that the heart of Paris was burning, that the soul of France was burning,” French Jewish author and leading intellectual Bernard-Henry Levy explained in an interview on CNN.
“It is a holy place for Christianity, but it is also a holy place in secular terms for the spirit of France,” he said.
Paris officials said the Notre-Dame Cathedral fire was under control late Monday night. However, the blaze severely damaged large parts of the building.