For nearly 150 years the name of Jerusalem has been absent from Paris’s city streets, after a devastating 19th century fire wiped out the historic Palais de Justice and some of the surrounding streets, including the tiny alley, Rue Jerusalem. It was traditionally a place where pilgrims coming back from the Holy Land stayed on their return to the French capital.
But after the 1871 fire and the subsequent re-building of the area, the name Jerusalem was not reinstated on the Paris map.
Now, however, that is about to change. After discussions between the Central Consistory of France, the body that represents French Jewry in matters of religion, and the mayor of Paris, there is to be a Jerusalem Square in the city’s 17th arrondissement, or neighbourhood.
Joel Mergui, president of the Consistoire, thanked Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo and the municipality of the 17th arrondissement, for the decision.
The Consistoire had put forward the idea in January when Israel’s president Reuven Rivlin visited Paris.
Ms Hidalgo said: “In this sad period of recrudesce of racist and antisemitic acts, recalling the ties that unite the city of Paris and the Jewish community is essential. For this reason, your proposal of devoting a square to Jerusalem in the capital seems very sensible, also in order to remember the friendship and the unity between the city of Paris and the state of Israel”.
The square will be established at the site of the future European Centre of Judaism (ECJ), currently under construction.
Just a few metres away, in Sainte Odile Square, two alleys have been named after the three children killed in the 2012 Toulouse terror attack, eight-year-old Myriam Monsonego, and brothers Arie and Gabriel Sandler, six and three, who are buried in Jerusalem.
“Jerusalem Square will be officially inaugurated by the Mayor of Paris, and we will be very happy to celebrate not only the return of the name of Jerusalem to the French capital but also the opening of the European Centre of Judaism,” Mr Mergui concluded.