by Rabbi Moshe Lewin Executive Director, Conference of European Rabbis
When I headed to my Paris synagogue last Friday night I could not imagine what was about to happen on the streets of Paris. The footage I saw after Shabbat was horrific and shocking. Sadly, this type of attack does not come as a surprise. Having been involved in the direct aftermath of both the Toulouse attack at a Jewish school in 2012 and the attack at the kosher supermarket earlier this year, these instances are becoming a part of my life. However, what set Friday night apart was the sheer magnitude; the number of people who lost their lives was beyond comparison.
Our community has become used to living with security and armed protection at the doors of every synagogue and school. I am pleased that all our synagogues were open as usual on Shabbat morning and many of our Sunday schools held classes. It shows our resilience.
However, we have taken some extra precautions and a number of larger events were cancelled. Paris as a city is far from normal. Many of us learned the news when we arrived at synagogue on Shabbat morning; the atmosphere was surreal, with many congregants simply breaking down and crying.
Residents of Paris are only doing essential travel and the streets of the city are deserted. My journey home from the office is usually 45 minutes, but on Sunday it took me just 15. We all feel like there are still terrorists walking freely around our streets.
On Sunday evening Chief Rabbi Korsia, with the permission of the Interior Ministry, organised a ceremony in the main synagogue for over 500 people. It was attended both by members of the community and wider residents of Paris. The city is united in grief and the Jewish community is no exception.
We are all in mourning and we have all felt this loss no matter what our background or heritage.