Forest Grove in Memory of WWII French Rabbis and Cantors.
(photo credit: KKL-JNF)
The moving ceremony in Adullam-France Park was attended by French and Israeli dignitaries, along with family members of the honored rabbis and cantors, French immigrants to Israel, French citizens, heads of French organizations visiting Israel, and representatives of KKL-JNF and KKL France.
The ceremony took place on the 75th anniversary of the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup, which occurred on July 16-17, 1942. Over 13,000 Jews, including more than 4,000 children, were interned and locked into the Vélodrome d'Hiver (Winter Velodrome –indoor sports stadium) for 5 days without adequate food, water or sanitation. The dark glass roof and the sealed windows and exits made the temperature inside unbearably hot. In the meantime, the Germans began deportations of Jews from France to the death camps in Eastern Europe. The first deportation trains from France left on 27 March 1942. The Jewish victims of the Vel d’Hiv Roundup were eventually sent to Auschwitz, where only 400 survived.
The idea to dedicate a forest grove in memory of the French rabbis and cantors who were murdered was the initiative of the Chief Rabbi of France, Rabbi Haim Korsia, who told the audience that many of the rabbis joined the Resistance and were killed fighting. “Today, however,” Rabbi Korsia said, “We remember not only how they died, but also how they lived and served their communities. They were true heroes of France and of the Jewish people. These rabbis and cantors taught us a lesson we must never forget – they refused to be apathetic to the suffering of their brothers and sisters. They were like the biblical Joseph, who said, ‘I am searching for my brothers.’
“The biblical verse I chose for the dedication stone was ‘for man is like a tree of the field’ because trees are a noble expression of the rabbis’ and cantors’ memory. Of course, trees are also associated with KKL-JNF, the organization that made this memorial possible and to whom we are all grateful beyond words.”
Read more, see photos of the dedication ceremony in Adullam-France Park