(Evening Standard) A synagogue in London is to start holding services in French because of the number of Jews moving here after a rise in anti-Semitism and terrorist atrocities in France.
The Liberal Jewish Synagogue in St John’s Wood has appointed a French rabbi for the Gallic part of its congregation, which has grown rapidly since Islamist gunmen attacked Charlie Hebdo magazine and a kosher supermarket in Paris in January last year.
London is now the most popular destination after Israel for French Jews — and French children make up more than half the intake in some Jewish primary schools in the capital.
Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldsmith, president of the Conference of European Rabbis, has called France “the main battleground between hope and fear for the future of Europe, especially for the Jewish community”.
The LJS will hold its first French-speaking service at the end of the month, led by new part-time French rabbi René Pfertzel, who also serves the Jewish community in Lyon. He said there was a “real need” for the services as “thousands” of people had come to London in the past two years because of anti-Semitism on the Continent.
“People are starting to feel insecure,” he said, adding that about 100 French people had joined the synagogue recently.
The number of anti-Semitic acts doubled in France in 2014, making up about half of all hate crimes in the country that year.
In the first quarter of last year there was an 84 per cent increase in attacks, and this month a French Jewish teacher was stabbed in Marseille, where the city’s Jewish leader urged Jews not to wear a skullcap “until better days”.
Source: Evening Standard