Third of French Jews send children to Catholic schools

Poll finds intermarriage up; community swinging to right.

eiffel 88 (photo credit: )
eiffel 88
(photo credit: )
One in three French Jews sends their children to Catholic schools, as an increasing number of French Jews intermarry, a recent survey shows. The Fonds Social Juif Unifie (FSJU) survey found that while 37 percent of French Jews send their children to public schools, and 27% have their kids attend private Jewish schools, 33% send their children to private non-Jewish schools, which, in France, would be Catholic schools. At the same time, the survey of French Jews found that 36% of respondents said that their spouse was not Jewish, up from 30% in 2002, while the number whose spouses are Jewish dropped from 69% five years ago to 62% today. The image of French Jewish schools as haredi - which many of them are - the negative views of public schools, and simple geographical reasons explain why so many French Jews are sending their children to Catholic schools, the FSJU President Pierre Besnainou said in a telephone interview from Paris. He added that the need to establish "traditional" Jewish schools in France was one of the primary conclusions that French Jewish leaders reached from the survey. A month before French presidential elections, the survey also showed that more than half of French Jews place themselves on the right of the political map, with French Jews taking a sharp turn in that direction. A total of 34% of French Jews surveyed identify with the Right and an additional 19% with the center-right, while a mere 20% identify with the Left, and 9% with the center-Left, the survey found. The results are jarring considering that just five years ago, 44% of French Jews polled had identified with the Left, and a mere 14% with the Right, according to the survey. In a seeming contradiction, the survey also found that most French Jews define themselves as both happy and worried at the same time. The poll found that 93% of French Jews were happy or very happy, and, at the same time, 71% define themselves as worried or very worried. More than half of French Jews polled said that the situation of Jews in France has remained the same over the last several months, while a quarter said that it has somewhat worsened. A total of 12% of French Jews polled said that they had personally suffered anti-Semitism over the last several months, while 88% said that they had not. A series of increasingly virulent anti-Semitic attacks in France last year climaxed with the torture and murder of a 23-year-old French Jew, Ilan Halimi, which sent shock waves throughout France and especially the French Jewish community. France is home to western Europe's biggest Jewish and Muslim communities, with 600,000 Jews living alongside six million Muslims. The telephone survey of 980 French Jews took place in January and February. There was no margin of error cited in the survey.