As French Jews continue to suffer from unbearable levels of anti-Semitism – which has caused thousands to leave for Israel and other countries – Jewish leaders from around the world have launched an unprecedented solidarity campaign to show their support for Europe's largest, and most embattled, Jewish community.
Hundreds of Jewish leaders from around the world will gather in Paris next week (Sunday, June 26 through Tuesday, June 28) as the Board of Governors of The Jewish Agency for Israel convenes in that city for the first time ever.
The Jewish Agency has led efforts to encourage French Jews fleeing anti-Semitism to move to the State of Israel, but the decision to hold the Board of Governors meeting in Paris is about Jewish solidarity, not aliyah, according to Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky.
"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," Sharansky said.
"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."
Sharansky himself is scheduled to address the historic gathering, along with several other the prominent officials from both Israel and France, including: French Minister of State for Relations with Parliament Jean-Marie Le Guen; Israeli Minister of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver; Israeli Minister of Construction and Housing Yoav Gallant; President of the CRIF (the umbrella of French Jewish communal organizations) Roger Cukierman; President of the Consistoire (the organization responsible for French Jewish religious affairs) Joël Mergui; and other leaders of the local Jewish community.
The three-day event will also involve a special farewell session for Parisian Jews who will be making Aliyah with the Jewish Agency later this summer. It will conclude 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 Organization.
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.