Solidarity with the French

June 24, 2016 Agencies
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Four Australians will take part in an unprecedented expression of solidarity with the French Jewish community in Paris on Sunday as the Board of Governors of The Jewish Agency for Israel convenes in that city for the first time ever.

The three-day meeting will involve hundreds of Jewish leaders from around the world.

Natan Sharansky   Photo: Henry Benjamin

Natan Sharansky Photo: Henry Benjamin

Australian Greg Maisel will travel to the French capital from Israel and will be joined at the conference by fellow Australians Dr Danny Lamm and Jack Smorgon from Melbourne and Dr Ron Weiser from Sydney.

French Minister of State for Relations with Parliament Jean-Marie Le Guen, Israeli Minister of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver, and Israeli Minister of Construction and Housing Yoav Gallant will address the gathering, as will Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel Natan Sharansky, President of the CRIF (the umbrella of French Jewish communal organisations) Roger Cukierman, President of the Consistoire (the organization responsible for French Jewish religious affairs) Joël Mergui, and other leaders of the local Jewish community. During the course of the three-day event, the Jewish Agency Board of Governors will join the Paris Jewish community in bidding farewell to community members who will be making Aliyah (immigrating to Israel) this summer at a special event at the Great Synagogue of Paris (La Victoire). Participants will also experience Jewish Agency activities in Paris, interact with French Jewish youth, receive a security briefing from the Jewish communal security service (SPCJ), and learn about the most pressing issues facing the community. The event will draw to a close with the European finals of the 2016 International Bible Competition for Adults, hosted jointly by The Jewish Agency, the Government of Israel, and the World Zionist Organisation.

Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel Natan Sharansky said: This gathering of hundreds of Jewish leaders from around the world is the single greatest expression of the Jewish people’s solidarity with French Jewry. The Jewish Agency will continue to assist any French Jew who wishes to make his or her home in Israel while simultaneously doing everything in our power to ensure that Jewish life in France grows even stronger and more secure.”

French Jewry represents the second-largest Jewish community in the world outside of Israel and Aliyah from France has topped the charts in recent years, with some 33,000 French Jews immigrating to Israel over the past decade, including 7,800 just last year. The Jewish Agency for Israel has significantly increased its presence in France in order to handle the influx of French Jewish immigrants and has expanded specialized opportunities for French Jewish young people to experience life in Israel through Masa Israel Journey and Onward Israel. Among the unique Jewish Agency programs offered to the French Jewish community are Bac Bleu Blanc, a weeklong Israel experience program for French Jewish teens; Zayit, a Jewish identity curriculum taught in French Jewish schools; and a range of informational seminars and Aliyah opportunity fairs custom-designed for specific demographic groups within French Jewry. The Jewish Agency also helps French Jewish communal institutions provide for their physical security through the organization’s Emergency Assistance Fund for Jewish Communities, established in the wake of the Toulouse terror attack in 2012

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