French pupils’ fears in wake of Toulouse

The Jewish Chronicle - - News - BY JES­SICA ELGOT

FRENCH JEWRY “may never re­cover” from the shock of the mur­ders of three chil­dren and a rabbi in Toulouse last month, a French head-teacher fears.

New se­cu­rity mea­sures are be­ing im­ple­mented across France by the Fonds So­cial Juif Unifié, whose chair­man, Baron Roth­schild, is now or­gan­is­ing fund­ing for se­cu­rity at ev­ery Jewish school in France.

Sara­p­in­son’skerem­me­na­hem­school in Nice is twinned with Gan Rashi, the Toulouse el­e­men­tary school at­tended by Aryeh and Gavriel San­dler and Miriam Mon­sonego, shot dead, to­gether with the boys’ fa­ther, Rabbi Jonathan San­dler, by Mo­hammed Merah.

Kerem Me­na­hem’s new se­cu­rity guard was ap­pointed last week. “We wanted to re­cruit a Jewish guard, we wanted him to have that con­nec­tion to us,” Ms Pin­son said.

A 15-year-old boy who tried to pro­tect chil­dren from the gun­man, and was in­jured, was from Ms Pin­son’s lo­cal area. “He is ac­tu­ally from the French Riviera, and was only tem­po­rar­ily in Toulouse. Thank God, he is back at home now but he has not re­turned to school. He is still un­der­go­ing treat­ment.”

This week, 16 of the Nice pupils were in London, and vis­ited the Jew- ish Mu­seum. Look­ing at a pho­tog­ra­phy ex­hi­bi­tion on Bri­tish Jewry, the chil­dren no­ticed dra­matic dif­fer­ences be­tween Jewish life in the UK and in France.

Yaelle, 11, said: “London is very dif­fer­ent. Peo­ple are not afraid to be Jews here, you see Jews ev­ery­where.

“Af­ter the at­tack, I sud­denly re­alised peo­ple don’t care about us, and many peo­ple hate Jews in France. But I don’t care. I’m go­ing to live my life just the same, and carry on be­ing proud to be Jewish.”

David, 11, echoed Yaelle’s con­cern: “We are very afraid of an­tisemitism. I feel it is more dan­ger­ous for me on the street if I am wear­ing my kip­pah. It makes me afraid to wear it.”

Ms Pin­son said: “We were par­tic­u­larly af­fected by the cru­elty and the bru­tal­ity of the at­tack… French Jewry is go­ing to take a very, very long time to re­cover. We may never re­cover.

“Our chil­dren were al­ready in school when we had the news [of the shoot­ing], and we had to keep up a strong front. We made ar­range­ments to close early, but the chil­dren never knew a thing. Our school was sur­rounded by po­lice.

“As the last child left, we just all broke down; we were in­con­solable. No one ex­pected it to hap­pen in Toulouse, in that quiet lit­tle res­i­den­tial back-street”. North-lon­don­ers might no­tice a fa­mil­iar face on TV in May — chal­leng­ing the Sex Pis­tols.

Lissa Hermans — a singer from Chick­en­shed Theatre, a favourite venue with Jewish fam­i­lies — is to re­lease a sin­gle of

and hopes to be num­ber one in the week of the Queen’s Di­a­mond Ju­bilee.

Ms Hermans, 30, who is blind and autis­tic, sang for the Queen at Buck­ing­ham Palace two months ago on be­half of Chicken- shed, which pro­motes in­clu­sive theatre for all ages and abil­i­ties, in­clud­ing those with learn­ing dif­fi­cul­ties.

The sin­gle is the brain­child of show­biz agent and Chick­en­shed pa­tron Jonathan Shalit, as an an­ti­dote to the in­ter­net cam­paign to get the Sex Pis­tols’ anti-monar­chy an­them, also called

to the num­ber-one spot. “This is the first time the na­tional an­them has ever been re­leased as a sin­gle,” Mr Shalit said.


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