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April 4, 2003     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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April 4, 2003

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PAGE 18 HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, APRIL 4, 20~ By Ben G. Frank 1290 in Rouffach, is home to nity center is now located in an architect, its 18th-century synagogue. STRASBOURG, France No other synagogues in the Still preserved is the arc, a Ashkenazic heritage. (JTA)--Time is running out. area should suffer a similar matzah oven, a mikvah and a How did so many syna- Will a page in Jewish his- fate, says Catherine Lehmann, communal room. Information gogues end up inAlsace? Most tory soon be erased here in P.R. director of Jewish Heri- is available about the historyof French Jews lived in the prov- Alsace, thisrich, historicprov- tage of Alsace. the building and the Jewish ince when, in 1791, France ince of France, this rural land Lehmann not only spear-community that once existed became the first country in that once provided most of the headed the drive to save syna- there. Europe to grant Jews citizen- chief rabbis and scholars of gogues, ritual baths and cem- WhathappensinAIsace, says ship. the French Jewish cornmu- eteries in wine-producing Lehmann, could be a harbin- Between that year and 1914, nity? Alsace, but is also a driving ger for other Diaspora corn- 176 synagogues were built in Within the next five years, force behindwhat this faliwili munities where demographic Alsaceoutof256forallofFrance. some 20 to 30 synagogues in be the-fourth "European Day changes have left an area all The old, dilapidated syna- the region could be demoi- of Jewish Culture" in 20 to 25 but bereft of Jews. gogues remain in villages, ished. European countries. During the last century, such as Benfeld and And if not torn down, they Some progress has been most rural Jews in the region Westhofen, that now have only could become - as some al- made toward preserving Jew- moved to Strasbourg, where a handful of elderly Jews. ready have- a Christian parish ish sites in Alsace. there is a strong and active Preservation efforts are be- hall and gym, a storehouse for Synagogues in Jewish community, comingincreasingly necessary fire-fighting equipment, a ga- Pfaffenhoffen and Struth, Nearly all of Alsace's 15,000 asthesynagoguesfailintofur- rage, a cinema or a private along with a mikvah in Jews now reside in Strasbourg, therdisrepair. home. Diemeringen have been re- the capital of the province, The rise of Middle East- Indeed, the oldest syna- stored, whose rural areas once were linkedanti-SemitisminFrance gogue in Alsace, built around In Pfaffenhoffen, acommu- filled with Jewish bankers, during the past year has also provided a spur to such efforts, according to Lehmann. 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Colonial Dr. Orlando at Good Homes Road (407) 521-8826 Saturday 10-$, Sunday 12-5 bttp:%~www.orkCnalmaure~om cattle and horse traders, wine me, a way of fighting anti- " %Ve would keep the signs d merchants, and a rich Semitism," she said. Jewishheritagevisible, outside Some of the synagogues have been turned into Jewish muse- ums, such as the Alsatian-Jew- ish Museum in Bouxwilter, which was saved from the wrecking ball and having the land used as a supermarket parking lot. And, just a few months ago, and inside," she says. The synagogues- alongwith restored ritual baths and eveP cemeteries -will become tour- ist sites, Lehmann adds. Not everyone agrees on the importance of the preservation effort. Some people feel the Jewish a former synagogue in community should focus on Hochfelden was turned into an building synagogues and art museum. The museum, which was bought by a cultural association, will house collec- tions of area archeology, his- tory, art and popular traditions. But with the bimah and ark still very much visible in cen- tral positions, visitors will know that the building once was a Jewish house of worship. According to Lehmann's plans, the region's synagogues will become cultural institu- tions, such as museums, librar- ies or music halls - not farm houses. schools forthe StrasbourgJeW" ish community, as well as on fund-raising for Israel and for Holocaust memorials. "Saving the old synagogues needs a lot of money," sap Martin Berg, a local Jewish of- ficiai. Meanwhile, Lehmann is trY" ing to get a foundation to suP" port her preservation effortS. Not about to abandon ha efforts, she is nonetheless con" cerned. After all, she says, "Time B running out." French Continued from page 1 ister Laurent Fabius, Green Party presidential candidate Noel Marnere and Socialist Party leader Francois Hollande. Despite the fact that the Hashomer Hatzair attack was filmed by a camera crew, it took more than two full days for organizers of the demon- stration to offer a clear con- demnation. Official responseswere slow to emerge, and began to filter through only after Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe visited Hashomer Hatzair's offices. A spokeswoman for the Green Party said she hadn't learned of the March 22 attack until two days later - not sur- prising, given sparse media coverage of the incident. in fact, many papers carried an Agence France Presse dis- patch claiming there had been "clashes" near the Hashomer Hatzair premises. That raised the possibility that Jewish activists from Betar or the Jewish Defense League had clashedwith mem- bers of the pro-Palestinian group Joint Appeal for Peace and Justice in the Middle East, known by its French acronym CAPJPO. CAPJPO's president, Olivia Zemor, told JTA that Betar supporters had attacked activ- ists from her group. "We are going to be speak- ing to the police and asking for protection," Zemor said. "Of course we're not anti- Semitic. I have a Jewish mother and father." Asked by JTA how many people from CAPJPO had been injured in the alleged fracas, Zemor said she did not know the "exact figure." She then admitted that no one from her group had been hurt. Zemor's version of events was rejected out of hand by Hashomer Hatzair spokesman Yoni Smadjar. Smadjar's testimony was backed up by the camera crew, whose footage of the attack was made available to police investigators. The crew belonged to the independent press agency Digipresse, which transmits online reports through the French Yahoo site. Valerie Labrousse, one of the Digipresse reporters cov- ering the event, told JTA that there were no clashes and no Betar activists around. She laughed off the CAPJPO claims that they had been attacked. "This was just a basic anti- Semitic attack with metal bars," she said. Digipresse attempted to sell its video footage to two na- tional French television chan- nels, which said they didn't have enough air time. Even among Parisian Jews, however, some still clung to the view that there had been clashes rather than an attack. Some even welcomed that ver- sion of events, telling JTA they were happy Betar had laid into them. The possibility that Jewish extremists could take the law into their own hands has be- gun to worry community lead- ers, already wary of the in- creasing radicalization of French Muslims because of the war in Iraq and the ongoing Palestinian intifada. Just days before the Paris demonstration, Betar youths clashed with demonstrators outside a pro-Israel gala in a Paris suburb. Over 100 riot police were required to restore order. Many community leaders have issued statements saying that dealing with attacks against Jews should be left to the police. "There should be no ques- tion of creating militias," said Michel Rottenberg, president of the large Jewish commu- nity in the middle-class Paris suburb of Vincennes. Rottenberg's comments were supported by Maurice Fellous, president of the Jew- ish community in Noisy le Sec, a more mixed, working-class area. Recently, when it appeared the community's rabbi was about to be attacked, local po- lice reacted immediately, Rottenberg said. Ariel Goldmann, spokes- man for the CRIF Protection Service for the Jewish Com- munity, or SPCJ, also praised police efforts. "Our work is done in per- fect harmony with the police and the Ministry of the Inte- rior at the highest level," Goldmann told the Jewish weekly Actualite Juive. ''We only intervene inside the build- ings, leaving the police to take care of events outside." The SPCJ runs a 24-hour hotline J to provide communit~ tion, and also offers vice and psychological coun" seling. It's not the only official or- ganization dealing with secU" rity issues. The Bureau for Against anti-Semitism, former police Sammy Ghozlan, is based !~ the offices of the parla Consistoire, the assembly 0{ rabbis and laymen that gov" erns Jewish affairs in "We catalogue every anti-Semitic act, that local police groups with each and every Ghozlan told JTA. "In virtually every case perpetrators are lims, but there is alwaYS; strong correlation anti-Semitism in a and the activity supported by the iiticai groups who run municipality/ weren't the political ment and the climate to with it, much better." Following clashes at the Interior Minister Nit Sarkozy assured R Cukierman, president CRIF umbrella of secular French JewrY, police would take sures to protect Jewish tutions. That would be over above "Vigipirate," an tion put in place at the war to protect sorne Jewish institutions France. '-^d Cukierman told that the community waS ~ worried about ant~-Se , manifestations at anti:~[i demonstrations on Mar~ .~ and 20, including the burni N' of an Israeli flag. Support for t also came fron Jean-Pierre that"French advantage of their against the war and struggle for peace to abO against racism and Semitism."Andjust~ Cukierman met cardinal-archbishop Jean-Marie Lustiger; tor of Paris's Grand Dalil Boubakeur; Chief Rabbi Joseph sued a joint appeal and mutual respect ficult