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Jews have been documented in France since ancient times. Jews lived in Phoenician Marseilles before the Romans invaded Gaul. During the Middle Ages, they were periodically expelled and again allowed to return, until 1384, when some 100,000 Jews had to leave France, mostly to German speaking areas. For instance, Rashi spent a great part of his life in the town of Troyes around 1100 CE, growing wine grapes, teaching and commenting. Thereupon, there were no Jews any longer left in the Kingdom of France.

But the Kingdom did not control the Papal states around Avignon, in the South West of France, where Jews could survive. Also, after the expulsion of the Jews from Spain and then Portugal in 1492, a number of "New Christians" emigrated to the southwest of France, mainly around Bayonne and Bordeaux. Though apparently assimilated and christianized, this "Portuguese Nation" maintained a hidden Jewish faith and practice. Besides these two French speaking communities, the largest number of Jews living on the territory of present France, the so-called German Jews, lived in Alsace, initially under the control of principalities of the Holy Roman Empire, and in Lorraine, around Metz.

When France progressively took control of these provinces, a certain status quo was respected, though Jews were no citizens, not allowed to live in towns and were subjected to discriminatory taxes. On the other hand, Jewish communities could live according to their own rules, as long as the relations with the civil and Christian authorities remained as imposed.

In 1791, during the French Revolution, Jews at once became citizens with the same rights and obligations as all other Frenchmen. They were allowed to settle where they wanted, mainly in larger cities where they could more easily earn a living. There have been two major waves of Jewish immigration, from the 1880ies to World War II, Eastern Europeans, and from 1950 to 1962, North Africans. The present Jewish population in France, estimated as 600,000 persons, includes a majority of people originating in Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco.


From My Jewish Learning

Establishment and rapid growth of French Jewry occurred between the 10th and 12th centuries. By the end of this period, French Jewish communities faced popular animosity, increased pressure from the Catholic Church, and higher taxes.  The situation came to a head in April, 1182, when King Philip Augustus ordered all Jews to leave the royal domain (in this case, the area around Paris).

The Jews were permitted to sell their movable goods, but their real estate went to the crown, and synagogues became the property of the Church.  Most Jews moved elsewhere in northern France.  (The northern French Jewish communities were under the control of regional authorities.) In 1198 the Jews were permitted to return, but an additional tax was imposed on their activities.

From then on, French Jewish life was continually subjected to regulation and exploitation, primarily in the form of taxation to fund royal spending.  Louis IX (1227-1270) forbade the Jews to lend money at interest, ordering them to live solely by their own labor in business.  He also attacked Jewish intellectual life, outlawing the study of the Talmud on the grounds that it offended Christianity.  Louis’s son, Philip III, maintained Louis’s policies and enforced ecclesiastical restrictions aimed at protecting Christians from Jewish influence.

The end of Jewish residence in Northern France occurred during the reign of Philip IV (1285-1314).  After 1289, the Jews were expelled from Anjou, Maine, Gascony, and Nevers.  Most of these Jews moved to Paris, where, even though they were subjected to restrictions, they were welcomed by the king.  In 1306, Philip changed his mind and ordered the Jews to leave his realm.  With no other choice, the Jews fled northeast to Flanders, east to Provence, or southwest to the Iberian peninsula.

Nine years later, King Louis X readmitted the Jews to France subject to certain conditions: the Jews had to purchase their readmission; they were not allowed to lend money (although pawnbroking was permissible); and they were forced to wear badges identifying them as Jews.  But by 1321, Charles IV was unhappy with the revenue he received from the Jewish communities, and they were expelled once again.

Over the next 73 years, the Jews slowly moved back to southern France and re-established their businesses, until they were expelled for good by Charles VI in 1394.

April, 1182, King Philip Augustus ordered all of the Jews to leave the royal domain (in this case, the area around Paris).  The Jews were permitted to sell their movable goods, but their real estate went to the crown, and synagogues became the property of the Church.  Most Jews moved elsewhere in northern France.  (The northern French Jewish communities were under the control of regional authorities.) In 1198 the Jews were permitted to return, but an additional tax was imposed on their activities.

1289, the Jews were expelled from Anjou, Maine, Gascony, and Nevers.  Most of these Jews moved to Paris, where, even though they were subjected to restrictions, they were welcomed by the king.  In 1306, Philip changed his mind and ordered the Jews to leave his realm.  With no other choice, the Jews fled northeast to Flanders, east to Provence, or southwest to the Iberian peninsula.

Nine years later, King Louis X readmitted the Jews to France subject to certain conditions: the Jews had to purchase their readmission; they were not allowed to lend money (although pawnbroking was permissible); and they were forced to wear badges identifying them as Jews.  

But by 1321, Charles IV was unhappy with the revenue he received from the Jewish communities, and they were expelled once again.

Over the next 73 years, the Jews slowly moved back to southern France and re-established their businesses, until they were expelled for good by Charles VI in 1394

Jews did not return to France until the seventeenth century. Even then, Jews continued to suffer under severe legal restrictions (notably the infamous tax levied by Colmar, in Alsace, on all Jews and heads of cattle entering the town). And they remained few: only 40,000 at the start of the French Revolution in 1789.

In September 1791, the National Assembly had granted Jews full citizenship, making France the first country in Europe to give them civil rights. This was not done entirely in the spirit of liberty, equality and fraternity. The hope was that by unlocking the ghetto gates and removing all restrictions on employment and movement, Jews would stop acting like a separate nation within France and ineluctably become French.

Napoleon, reconvened what he called the Great Sanhedrin — a name taken from the governing body of the Jewish community under the Roman Empire. This council of French Jewish leaders was summoned to resolve a series of issues left unsettled since the French Revolution (see New York Times)

Today, France has the worlds third largest Jewish population (after Israel and the USA) of an estimated 485,000 (HULIQ).

 (see Video above.  
For her Other Disputations see Spain)
From Wikipedia also   

As part of its evangelistic efforts, the Church sought to win the beliefs of the Jews through debate. The Jews prided themselves in having a rationally superior faith and believed that Judaism could not be refuted by reason while Christianity was ultimately irrational.

Nicholas Donin represented the Christian side of the debate. He was a member of the Franciscan Order and a Jewish convert to Christianity. He had translated theTalmud and pressed 35 charges against it to Pope Gregory IX by quoting a series of blasphemous passages about Jesus, Mary or Christianity. There is a Talmudic passage, for example, where Jesus of Nazareth is sent to Hell to be boiled in excrement for eternity. Donin also selected an injunction of the Talmud that permits Jews to kill non-Jews.  Louis IX, who sponsored the debate, was a sworn enemy of Judaism, at one time mentioning that only skilled clerks could conduct a disputation with Jews but that laymen should plunge a sword into those who speak ill of the Christ.

Four of the most distinguished rabbis of France, Yechiel of Paris, Moses of Coucy, Judah of Melun, and Samuel ben Solomon of Château-Thierry, represented the Jewish side of the debate.

The disputation demanded that the four rabbis defend the Talmud against Donin's accusations that the Talmud contains blasphemies against the Christian religion, attacks on Christians themselves, blasphemies against God, and obscene folklore. The attacks on Christianity were from passages referencing Jesus and Mary. There is a passage, for example, of someone named Jesus who was sent to Hell to be boiled in excrement for eternity. The Jews denied that this is the Jesus of the Bible, stating “not every Louis born in France is king.”

Maccoby gives his opinion that the Jewish representatives in the Paris disputation were less than forthcoming. There are ancient Jewish polemics against the Jesus of Christianity such as the Toledot Yeshu, and the Jesus who was portrayed in the Talmud fits that portrayal. Among the obscene and odd folklore, there are passages that Og of Bashan was a giant. There is also a story that Adam copulated with each of the animals before finding Eve. Noah, according to the Talmudic legends, was castrated by his son Ham.   It was common for Christians to equate the religion of the Jews with the Israelite Mosaic Faith of the Old Testament. The Church was therefore surprised to realize that the Jews had developed an authoritative Talmud to complement their understanding of the Bible. Maccoby believed that the purpose of the Paris disputation was to rid the Jews of their belief in the Talmud, in order that they might return to Old Testament Judaism and eventually embrace Christianity.

The hostility of the Church during this disputation may have had less to do with the Church’s attitude and more to do with the Christian proponent, Nicholas Donin. The style of Donin’s argumentation exploited controversies that were debated within Judaism at the time. Maccoby also suggests that the disputation may have been motivated by Donin’s previous affiliations with the Karaite Jews, and that Donin’s motivations for joining the Church involved his desire to attack rabbinic tradition.

A commission of Christian theologians condemned the Talmud to be burned and on June 17, 1244 twenty-four carriage loads of Jewish religious manuscripts were set on fire in the streets of Paris.

from ‘Jews, God and History’, Max Dimont 1994, p241

The first burnings of the Talmud took place in 1244 in Paris and Rome and four times more in fourteenth-century France. There were no more burnings for two hundred years. The two worst years for Talmud burning were 1553 and 1554, when it went to the stake twelve times in Italy. It was burned twice more in Rome in 1558 and 1559, and then the fashion ended. In Eastern Europe, the Talmud was burned once, in 1757.

The interesting aspect about Talmud burning is not that the Talmud was sent to the stake, as in the Middle Ages translations of the New Testament in languages other than Latin were consigned to the flames more frequently than the Talmud. The interesting aspect is that the Old Testament in Hebrew was never sent to the stake. Though Torah scrolls often were trampled underfoot by screaming mobs looting synagogues, or burned with the synagogue itself, such acts were never sanctioned by the Church and the Torah was never officially condemned. Though Judaism was reviled as a blasphemy, though Jews were killed for being unbelievers, the Torah itself was looked upon with respect, for it was the Law of God. As one Pope expressed it. “We praise and honor the Law, for it was given to your fathers by Almighty God through Moses. But we condemn your religion and your false interpretation of the Law."


The Talmud on Trial by Samuel N. Hoenig, The Jewish Review, Volume 4 , Issue 3 (March, 1991 | Adar, 5751)

Jean Connell Hoff, John Friedman, and Robert Chazan. The Trial of the Talmud: Paris, 1240. Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 2012. ix + 182 pp. $19.95 (paper), ISBN 978-0-88844-303-8


The Jewish Virtual Library
states that the Marranos had to maintain some semblance of Catholicism for more than two centuries, but they were seldom molested in their secret practice of Judaism. Though they were called ‘New Christians’ or ‘Portuguese merchants’, their Jewishness was an open secret. In the large settlements they lived in their own quarters, had their own burial grounds, developed their own schools and communal institutions, and even trained their own rabbis after first importing them from abroad. In the course of time they gradually reduced their Catholic practices and eventually abandoned Church marriage and even baptism. In 1730 they were officially recognized as Jews. Their more formal communities were situated at Bordeaux and Bayonne and there were numerous lesser settlements in such places as Toulouse, Lyons, Montpellier, La Rochelle, Nantes, and Rouen. Bayonne was the center of a cluster of communities, including Biarritz, Bidache, Peyrehorade, and Saint-Jean-de-Luz. In this last town the Marranos had the misfortune of being expelled in 1619, and then, after a partial return, seeing the town captured by the Spaniards in 1636.

David Ferdinando has reproduced the The Marranos of Rouen  by Cecil Roth which describes how a group of Marranos organised themselves and were regarded by the local community.



Cecil Roth,
Jewish Study Review - Les Marranes à Rouen  or The Marranos of Rouen
An unknown chapter in the history of the Jews of France.  1929

The starting point of the modern era in the history of the Jews of France is found in the establishment of the Marranos that formed the most ancient communities of Sephardim of the Southwest.  There, to Burgundy and to Bayonne, these heroic people found asylum from the butchers of the Inquisition, with which began a new chapter in the history of their race.

Their vicissitudes and the manner in which they gradually obtained 1 religious liberty have made them the object of many treatise and studies.

But their position was not in the least unique, as one believes.  The point where they differ from the other Marrano establishments in France is that they finally got to perpetuate themselves as a community openly professing their Judaism.

But for prior period, while their Judaism resided secretly, they were not alone in their case.  In other cities in France, one could find, in the xvi and xvii centuries, important groups of merchants from the Iberian Peninsula, of Jewish race and Jewish sympathies that were suspected, with reason, of maintaining a secret community.  

There were important groupings particularly, in Lyon, Montpellier, La Rochelle and Toulouse, although alone the first of the former has, up till now, been made the object of a careful study!  .  But none was more important in the xvii 6 century, thanks to its proximity to England and the Netherlands, than that of Rouen.

1.  Cf.  Brunschwicg, Jews of N

In each major zone of settlement, different conditions prevailed, each providing specific tools for genealogy research. For the sake of comparison, around 1789 some 5000 Jews lived in southwest France, 1800 in the southeast, and 1700 in various other cities, including Paris. In Lorraine, in and around the city of Metz, there were about 7000 Jews, and in Alsace about 23000.

The early settlements in the SW and SE of France, though in limited size, played an important role in the history of French Jews. Having adopted French habits for a long time, they were able to rise both socially and economically. Their family histories have been kept over time, inasmuch as most families had a well-known personality within their ranks.


These Jews lived mainly in 4 towns in the southeast: Cavaillon, Carpentras, L'Isle-sur-Sorgue and Avignon. The A.D., as well as the municipal archives, holds documents dating back to the 16th century. This rather limited population has been studied in great detail. A rich literature is available, mainly in French. The ancient documents, written in Latin or old French, are difficult for non-specialists to read.


The Jews who left Portugal after 1496 (many had originated in Spain and had fled to Portugal shortly before) had to convert to Catholicism, and settled in southwest France as Catholics. They were called "new Christians" and often continued undercover Jewish practices. Church registers exist, mainly from the 17th century, with various documents similar to vital records for the 18th century. Additional information is available for those with connections to the Amsterdam Sephardic.

In the Departement de la Gironde, the A.D.(in Bordeaux) and also the municipal archives hold various documents, mainly from the 17th and 18th century. In the Departement des Pyrenees Altantiques, the A.D. (in Pau) and the municipal archives also hold various documents (mainly 17th and 18th centuries). These documents have been catalogued.


The French kingdom, after conquering the "three bishoprics" (Toul, Verdun and Metz) in the mid-16th century, favored the settlement of Jews in Metz. These Jews did not generally reach great wealth, but the community was a center of attraction for Jewish scholars. In the course of progressive conquest of the region, several communities were founded in small places, part of them speaking French, the other part German.

Vital registration documents, as well as tax registers and notary deeds, are available for periods since the 18th century. In particular, marriage contracts (tenaim) registered with the Royal Notaries have been indexed. They are held in the A.D. du Departement de la Moselle (Metz) and also in municipal archives

Time, Alexandra Silver, Friday, Apr. 08, 2011

It's not simply known as the Dreyfus trial. It's not the Dreyfus case. It's the Dreyfus Affair, a scandal that embroiled France and reverberated throughout Europe and the United States. In 1894, Alfred Dreyfus, a captain in the French army — and a Jew — was falsely accused of selling military secrets to Germany. He proclaimed his innocence and the evidence was weak, but he was court-martialed, convicted of high treason and sentenced to life imprisonment on Devil's Island. He remained there for years, despite evidence that another man was guilty. The conspiracy against Dreyfus involved forged documents and the stifling of further investigation.

France was divided into Anti-Dreyfusards and Dreyfusards, one of whom was the novelist Èmile Zola. In 1898 he championed Dreyfus' cause in an open letter to the French president, entitled "J'Accuse." Zola himself was put on trial, and convicted, for libel. Anti-Semitism raged. And though Dreyfus was retried in 1899, he was found guilty again. The president pardoned him, but it took a civilian court of appeals to clear Dreyfus in 1906, after which he was reinstated and awarded the Legion of Honor. It wasn't until 1995, however — more than a hundred years since he was first accused, and decades after he'd fought for France in World War I — that the French army publicly stated that Dreyfus was innocent.


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In 2012 France had a Jewish population of 478,000, making it the world’s third largest after the USA and Israel.  05/01/2014 - Sammy Ghozlan, founder of France’s National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism, said he is immigrating to Israel.

Ghozlan, a former police commissioner whose organization is one of France’s leading watchdog groups on anti-Semitism, announced his departure on Monday – shortly after the annual roundup of the Jewish Agency showed that 2014 was the first year ever that the most immigrants to Israel came from France.

“The departure, it’s a message,” Ghozlan said in an interview about his decision that was published Monday on “Leaving is better than running away. We do not know how things will play out tomorrow.”

France’s growing anti-Semitism problem is believed to be driving the influx of over 7,000 newcomers to Israel from France last year, more than double the figure for 2013. Ghozlan has warned that while most of the hundreds of violent attacks recorded in 2014 were the work of Muslims, the French far right also is adding to the problem with incitement and attempts to limit freedom of worship.

On the 7th January 2015 three masked Islamic gunmen went into the office of a French satirical magazine called ‘Charlie Hebdo’ aimed at all religions.   Ten of them and two policemen were killed in response to a cartoon of Mohammed.  See BBC     Daily Mail     Time

 The reaction of all sectors of the French and foreign populations was one of revulsion.  Time will tell if this is the tipping point of ‘French jihad’relations leading to less anti-semitism and better relations within France..

The story of the Vichy regime during World War Two - particularly the part it played in the deportation of Jews - was kept quiet for years. Eventually, and slowly, however, the tale of its betrayal of the Jewish community in France has emerged - as Paul Webster reports.
BBC Paul Webster, 2011


The rescue of 7,000 Jews from Nazi-occupied Denmark in January 1943 has passed from history into legend. With the help of the Danish civil service and police, and the encouragement of King Christian X, almost the entire Jewish population was smuggled out of the country overnight, to neutral Sweden, without alerting the occupying forces.

It was the most daring of all such actions to save Jews from Nazi persecution through the years of World War Two, but great risks were also taken elsewhere. In 1941, in occupied Holland, for example, Communist trade unionists held protest strikes - ending with the deportation of leading demonstrators.

Even some pro-German states took a stand. Fascist Hungary resisted Nazi demands to hand over Jews until the country was invaded in 1944. Italy had anti-Semitic laws, but nevertheless defended French Jews in south-eastern France, which was occupied by the Italian army, and thus saved thousands of lives.

The last example is the most relevant to the tragic French experience, whose consequences are yet to be resolved. More than 60 years after a collaborationist French government helped deport 75,721 Jewish refugees and French citizens to Nazi death camps, the national conscience has still not fully come to terms with the betrayal of a community persecuted by French anti-Semitic laws.


After the 1789 Revolution, France was the first European country to emancipate Jews, and despite periodic resurgences of anti-Semitism the country had Europe's second biggest Jewish community - 330,000 - by 1939. About half were recent refugees from elsewhere in Europe, convinced that they would be protected by France's commitments on political and religious asylum.

... fears ... France was on the verge of a Bolshevik revolution ...

By the turn of the century, however, anti-Semitism was being encouraged by the anti-republican movement Action Francaise, which had a strong following in the Catholic Church, as well as in the army, civil service and the judiciary. The movement supported extremists who believed that Jews could never integrate into a Christian country and were potential traitors.

A virulent racist campaign intensified in 1936, when the Socialist Popular Front government was led by a Jewish prime minister, Léon Blum. His appointment added to the fears of those convinced that France was on the verge of a Bolshevik revolution, aided by Jews. These fears intensified, and dominated the French administration during the years of World War Two.

The lightning defeat of the French army by the Germans in June 1940 brought down the democratic Third Republic, which was replaced by a French state, headed by 84-year-old Maréchal Philippe Pétain, who had fought in World War One. He set up his capital at Vichy, a spa in the Auvergne. The Germans had divided France into occupied and non-occupied zones, leaving Pétain's administration in charge of about two-fifths of the country - including the cities of Lyon and Marseille.


Despite autonomy from German policies, Pétain brought in legislation setting up a Jewish Statute in October 1940. By then about 150,000 Jews had crossed what was known as the Demarcation Line to seek protection from Vichy in the south - only to find they were subjected to fierce discrimination along lines practised by the Germans in the north.

... 3,000 died of poor treatment ...

Jews were eventually banned from the professions, show business, teaching, the civil service and journalism. After an intense propaganda campaign, Jewish businesses were 'aryanised' by Vichy's Commission for Jewish Affairs and their property was confiscated. More than 40,000 refugee Jews were held in concentration camps under French control, and 3,000 died of poor treatment during the winters of 1940 and 1941. The writer Arthur Koestler, who was held at Le Vernet near the Spanish frontier, said conditions were worse than in the notorious German camp, Dachau.

During 1941 anti-Semitic legislation, applicable in both zones, was tightened. French police carried out the first mass arrests in Paris in May 1941when 3,747 men were interned. Two more sweeps took place before the first deportation train provided by French state railways left for Germany under French guard on 12 March 1942.

On 16 July 1942, French police arrested 12,884 Jews, including 4,501 children and 5,802 women, in Paris during what became known as La Grande Rafle ('the big round-up'). Most were temporarily interned in a sports stadium, in conditions witnessed by a Paris lawyer, Georges Wellers.

'All those wretched people lived five horrifying days in the enormous interior filled with deafening noise ... among the screams and cries of people who had gone mad, or the injured who tried to kill themselves', he recalled. Within days, detainees were being sent to Germany in cattle-wagons, and some became the first Jews to die in the gas chambers at Auschwitz.


Photograph of German troops riding horses down the Champs D'Elysee in Paris German troops parade down the Champs D'Elysee in Paris, 1940  © Many historians consider that an even worse crime was committed in Vichy-controlled southern France, where the Germans had no say. In August 1942, gendarmes were sent to hunt down foreign refugees. Families were seized in their houses or captured after manhunts across the countryside. About 11,000 Jews were transported to Drancy in the Paris suburbs, the main transit centre for Auschwitz. Children as young as three were separated from their mothers - gendarmes used batons and hoses - before being sent to Germany under French guard, after weeks of maltreatment.

During 1942, officials sent 41,951 Jews to Germany, although the deportations came to a temporary halt when some religious leaders warned Vichy against possible public reaction. Afterwards, arrests were carried out more discreetly. In 1943 and 1944, the regime deported 31,899 people - the last train left in August 1944, as Allied troops entered Paris. Out of the total of 75,721 deportees, contained in a register drawn up by a Jewish organisation, fewer than 2,000 survived.


The number of dead would have been far higher if the Italian fascist leader, Benito Mussolini, had not ordered troops in France to defy German-French plans for mass round ups in Italian-occupied south-eastern France. Thousands were smuggled into Italy after Italian generals said that 'no country can ask Italy, cradle of Christianity and law, to be associated with these (Nazi) acts'.

... thousands of families risked death to shelter Jews.

After the Italian surrender in September 1943, arrests in the area restarted, but by then French public opinion had changed. Escape lines to Switzerland and Spain had been set up, and thousands of families risked death to shelter Jews. Since the war, Israel has given medals to 2,000 French people, including several priests, in recognition of this, and of the fact that about 250,000 Jews survived in France.

Post-war indifference to anti-Semitic persecution pushed the issue into the background until Serge Klarsfield, a Jewish lawyer whose Romanian father died in Germany, reawakened the national conscience. He tracked down the German chief of the Secret Service in Lyon, Klaus Barbie, who was hiding in Bolivia but was subsequently jailed for life in 1987. His case threw light on Vichy's complicity in the Holocaust.

Klarsfeld's efforts were frustrated by the Socialist president of France at this time, Francois Mitterrand, who had been an official at Vichy and was decorated by Pétain. It was not until 1992 that one of Barbie's French aides, Paul Touvier, who had been a minor figure in wartime France, was jailed for life for his crimes.


French courts, responding to Mitterrand's warnings that trials would cause civil unrest, blocked other prosecutions, including that of the Vichy police chief, René Bousquet, who organised the Paris and Vichy zone mass arrests. He was assassinated by a lone gunman in June 1993.

... France began to face up to its responsibility in the persecution of Jews.

It was not until Mitterrand retired in 1995 that France began to face up to its responsibility in the persecution of Jews. When the new right-wing president, Jacques Chirac, came to power, he immediately condemned Vichy as a criminal regime and two years later the Catholic Church publicly asked for forgiveness for its failure to protect the Jews.

But the most significant step forward was the trial in 1997 of Maurice Papon, 89, for crimes concerning the deportation of Jews from Bordeaux. He had served as a cabinet minister after the war, before losing a 16-year legal battle to avoid trial. He was released from jail because of poor health, but his ten-year prison sentence has been interpreted as official recognition of French complicity in the Holocaust, although there are still those who continue to defend his actions.

Since the trial, France has opened up hidden archives and offered compensation to survivors - and ensured that schools, where history manuals used not to mention France's part in the deportations, now have compulsory lessons on Vichy persecution. While anti-Semitism is still a social problem in France, there is no official discrimination, and today's 600,000-strong Jewish community is represented at every level of the establishment, including in the Catholic Church, where the Archbishop of Paris is Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger.

In 1942, while on the run from the French police, Lustiger converted to Catholicism, but three years later was told that his mother had died in the Auschwitz gas chambers. It seems fitting that he presently (June 2003) occupies such an important position within French society.

A History of the Jews, Paul Johnson p563-565

In FRANCE, the post-war period saw undeniable growth, in both numbers and intensity. The Nazis and their Vichy allies had killed 90.000 of France’s pre-war Jewish population of 340,000, and the tragedy had been envenomed by the knowledge that France’s established and highly assimilated native community had in some ways collaborated in deporting the refugee element. But this loss was more than made good by a huge influx of Sephardi immigrants from the Moslem world in the three decades after the war: 25,000 from Egypt, 65,000 from Morocco, 80,000 from Tunisia and 120,000 from Algeria, as well as smaller but substantial numbers from Syria, the Lehanon and Turkey. As a result, French Jewry more than doubled to over 670,000, and became the fourth largest in the world.

This huge demographic expansion was accompanied by a profound cultural change. French Jewry had always been the most assimilationist of all, especially since the French Revolution had allowed it to identify almost completely with republican institutions. The vicious behaviour of many Frenchmen under Vichy had produced some loss of confidence, and one index of it was that six times as many French Jews changed their names in the twelve years 1945-57 as in the entire period 1803-1942.77 Even so, the number was small, and ultra assimilation remained the distinguishing characteristic of French Jewry even in the post-war period. Writers like Raymond Aron stood at the very centre of contemporary French culture and the quiet unostentatious, highly sophisticated Jewish upper-middle class provided notable prime ministers, such as Rene Mayer and Pierre Mendes-France under the Fourth Republic, and Michel Debre and Laurent Fabius under the Fifth. Nevertheless, the influx of Sephardi, from Africa greatly intensified the Jewishness of French Jews Francophone most of them might be, but a high proportion of them read Hebrew. French Jews of the nineteenth century had a theory of three generations’: ‘The grandfather believes, the father doubts, the son denies. The grandfather prays in Hebrew, the father reads the prayers in French, the son does not pray at all. The grandfather observes all the holidays, the father Yom Kippur, the son no holidays at all. The grandfather has remained Jewish, the father has been assimilated, and the son has become a mere deist ... if he has not become an atheist, a Fourierist or a Saint-Simonian.’78 In post-war France this theory no longer worked. The son was now just as likely to return to the religion of his grandfather, leaving the father isolated in his agnosticism. In the south, the influx of Algerian Jews resurrected the dead or dying communities of the Middle Ages. In 1970, for instance, the celebrated composer Darius Milhaud laid the foundation-stone of a new synagogue in Aix-en-Provence — the old one having been sold in the war and turned into a Protestant church.” Nor were new synagogues the only sign of a revived Jewishness which was both religious and secular. In the 1960s and 1970s the leaders of the old Alliance Israelite Universelle tended to be practising Jews with militant attitudes to Jewish causes at home and abroad. A much higher percentage of Jews observed the Law and learned Hebrew. The continuing existence of a residual anti-Semitic movement in France though weaker than in the 1930s, tended to reinforce Jewish militancy. When it found parliamentary form, as with the Poujadists in the 1950s or the National Front in the 1980s, Jewish organizations reacted vigorously and asserted their Jewish convictions. The bomb attack on the Liberal synagogue on the Rue Copernic on 3 October 1980, one of several at that time, served to stimulate Le Renouveau Juif as it was called. French Jewry, even as enlarged by immigration from Africa, remained strikingly resistant to Zionism as such: French Jews would not actually go to Israel to live in any numbers. But they identified themselves with the survival of Israel in 1956, 1967, 1973 and again in the early 1980s. They reacted strongly against French government policies which were inimical to Jewish and Israeli interests as they saw them. They constituted, for the first time, a Jewish lobby in France, and in the 1981 elections the Jewish vote was an important element in replacing the Gaullist rightwing regime which had governed France for twenty-three years. A new and far more vigorous and visible Jewish establishment was emerging in France, conscious of its numerical strength and youth, and likely to play in the 1990s a more significant role in forming opinion throughout the diaspora.


The New York Times, Adam Nossiter, July 27, 2018

PARIS — The solemn boulevards and quiet side streets of the 17th Arrondissement in Paris suggest Jewish life in France is vibrant: There is a new profusion of kosher groceries and restaurants, and about 15 synagogues, up from only a handful two decades ago.

But for residents like Joanna Galilli, this area in northwestern Paris represents a tactical retreat. It has become a haven for many Jews who say they have faced harassment in areas with growing Muslim populations. Ms. Galilli, 28, moved to the neighborhood this year from a Parisian suburb where “anti-Semitism is pretty high,” she said, “and you feel it enormously.”

“They spit when I walked in the street,” she said, describing reactions when she wore a Star of David.

France has a painful history of anti-Semitism, with its worst hours coming in the 1930s and during the German occupation in World War II. But in recent months, an impassioned debate has erupted over how to address what commentators are calling the “new anti-Semitism,” as Jewish groups and academic researchers trace a wave of anti-Semitic acts to France’s growing Muslim population.

Nearly 40 percent of violent acts classified as racially or religiously motivated were committed against Jews in 2017, though Jews make up less than 1 percent of France’s population. Anti-Semitic acts increased by 20 percent from 2016, a rise the Interior Ministry called “preoccupying.”

In 2011, the French government stopped categorizing those deemed responsible for anti-Semitic acts, making it more difficult to trace the origins. But before then, Muslims had been the largest group identified as perpetrators, according to research by a leading academic. Often the spikes in violence coincided with flare-ups in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, according to researchers.

For the French government, the issue is deeply complicated, touching on the country’s rawest political nerves, as well as ethnic and religious fault lines. France has Europe’s biggest population of both Jews and Muslims, and Muslims face both discrimination in employment and in their treatment by the police.

French leaders fear pitting one side against the other, or even acknowledging that a Muslim-versus-Jew dynamic exists. To do so would violate a central tenet of France — that people are not categorized by race or religion, only as fellow French citizens, equal before the law.

“We are all citizens of the republic, one and indivisible. But this doesn’t correspond to reality,” said a pollster, Jérôme Fourquet, who along with a colleague, Sylvain Manternach, wrote a recent book, “Next Year in Jerusalem, French Jews and anti-Semitism,” published by the respected Fondation Jean-Jaurès, a think tank associated with the Socialist Party.

“All the politicians speak of living together,” Mr. Fourquet said. “And yet, instead, we have de facto groupings based on culture and community. Yet to recognize this is to recognize the failure or breakdown of the French model.”

Gunther Jikeli, a German historian at Indiana University who conducted a meticulous study of Muslim anti-Semitism in Europe, called the phenomenon “blindingly obvious” in a recent opinion piece in the newspaper Le Monde.

In 16 surveys conducted over the last 12 years in Europe, “anti-Semitism is significantly higher among Muslims than among non-Muslims,” Mr. Jikeli wrote.

“There is a kind of norm of anti-Semitism, of viewing Jews negatively,” he said in an interview.

Muslim leaders in France express outrage over the accusations. They dismiss the detailed findings of the researchers and argue that the “new anti-Semitism” catchphrase wrongly places broad-brush blame on the country’s Muslims — and at a time when anti-Muslim bigotry is rising in France and elsewhere in Europe.

Like the reported acts of violence against France’s 500,000 Jews, hate crimes against France’s estimated population of six to 10 million Muslims also increased between 2016 and 2017.

Many French Jews have voted with their feet. More than 50,000 have moved to Israel since 2000, compared with about 25,000 French Jews who left between 1982 and 2000.

Tens of thousands of others have left the peripheries of Paris and Lyon, where Muslim populations are rising, and have retrenched in neighborhoods with larger Jewish populations.

In June, four French Muslims of African descent went on trial over the 2014 attack and robbery of a young Jewish man and his girlfriend. Sitting in a glassed-in box, the defendants listened mutely as the judge read the charges, including bursting into the couple’s apartment in the Paris suburb of Créteil and throwing religious objects on the floor. One was reported to have shouted, “Jews don’t put their money in the bank!”

“The pain is coming back,” one of the victims, Jonathan Ben Arrousse, 25, told reporters outside the courtroom after the trial opened June 26. During the attack, he was bound and gagged while his girlfriend was raped in another room. Reliving the assault, he said, was “very difficult.”

The Créteil trial comes barely three months after the killing of an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor, Mireille Knoll, in her Paris apartment by an assailant who shouted “Allahu akbar.” Protesters poured into the streets of Paris.

A manifesto signed by a former president, a former prime minister and numerous intellectuals, both Jews and non-Jews, warned of a “silent ethnic purge,” a reference to what Mr. Fourquet called the “large-scale phenomenon” of internal migration. The manifesto called on Muslims to renounce what it deemed anti-Semitic verses in the Quran.

Even so, French leaders have been reluctant to utter the term “new anti-Semitism” or to condemn it, out of a sense of caution that critics deem harmful.

“For fear of not setting one community against another, you wind up hiding things,” said the novelist and essayist Pascal Bruckner, a signer of the manifesto after Ms. Knoll’s death.

Nearly 40 percent of racially or religiously motivated acts of violence were committed against Jews in 2017, though at 500,000 people they make up less than 1 percent of France’s population.

In 2014, François Hollande, then the president, was careful to put the Créteil attack in the context of the “struggle against racism” and “discrimination,” though he acknowledged its anti-Semitic character. The investigating magistrate did not, however, and the prosecution changed course only after an outcry from Jewish groups.

Researchers have observed a strong correlation between surges in anti-Semitic acts in France and flare-ups in the conflict between Israel and Palestinians in the Mideast.

Since 2000, when the second intifada, or uprising, began, there has been an “explosion” of anti-Semitic acts in France, rising to 744 at the onset in 2000 from 82 in 1999, according to Mr. Fourquet and Mr. Manternach. In 2004, a synagogue was burned in Trappes, a Paris suburb with a large Muslim population, as tensions over the intifada remained.

Similarly, during the 2008-2009 war between Israel and Gaza, reports of anti-Semitic incidents rose nearly tenfold in a single month.

The number of anti-Semitic acts have fluctuated over the years since the first sharp increase, dipping to 49 in 2013 and rising as high as 108 in 2014, when a pro-Palestinian demonstration in the Paris suburb of Sarcelles turned violent, with several kosher groceries burned and Molotov cocktails thrown at a synagogue.

By comparison, between 2016 and 2017, reported attacks against French Muslims, who outnumber Jews 12 to 1, rose from 67 to 72.

As anti-Semitic episodes accumulated, many Jews began to move out of neighborhoods in the greater Paris region that have large Muslim populations.

Mr. Fourquet, the pollster, cited many examples, using estimates from Jewish groups. In Aulnay-sous-Bois, the number of Jewish families dropped to 100 in 2015 from 600 in 2000; in Le Blanc-Mesnil, to 100 families from 300; in Clichy-sous-Bois, there are now 80 Jewish families, down from 400; and in La Courneuve, there are 80 families, down from 300.

Ouriel Elbilia, a rabbi in the 17th Arrondissement, said Jews were relocating to the district “because they felt threatened in their neighborhoods.” He added that his brother is a rabbi in Clichy-sous-Bois, northeast of the capital, but that “there are practically no services anymore because the community has emptied out.”

On a recent afternoon on the terrace outside Garry Levy’s kosher restaurant on the Rue Jouffroy d’Abbans in the 17th Arrondissement, the tables were filled with men wearing skullcaps, an unlikely sight in the Paris suburbs.

“People want to move to where it is safe,” Mr. Levy said. “They want to be in neighborhoods where they can go to the park without being bothered by young Muslims.”

Tens of thousands of Jews have left the peripheries of Paris and Lyon, where Muslim populations are rising, and have retrenched in neighborhoods with larger Jewish populations.

Jewish groups say that wearing a skullcap in public can be dangerous in some heavily immigrant areas, citing that as one reason behind the moves. In many areas, they say, synagogues are closing for lack of members.

“In the last 20 years, entire communities have transferred,” said Ariel Goldmann, a lawyer who leads France’s leading Jewish social services agency. “These places are emptying out.”

For Muslim leaders, the accusations are infuriating.

“People leave because they have reached another economic level,” said Mamadou Diallo, who runs a youth center in Nanterre, a western suburb of Paris. But he and about a dozen other young Muslims seated around a table on a recent afternoon acknowledged having heard anti-Semitic remarks.

“Too many for my taste,” Mr. Diallo said.

Ahmet Ogras, president of the French Council of the Muslim Faith, was especially critical of the recent manifesto that intellectuals and political leaders released.

“It wasn’t a manifesto,” he said. “It was a grab bag,” he said, lumping together a call to Muslims to renounce parts of the Quran with assertions of an “ethnic purge.”

“We were shocked,” he said.

He said that Muslim groups were partners in fighting anti-Semitism, and that “you can’t create a ‘new’ anti-Semitism.” Jewish groups have to “stop putting the blame on Muslims,” he said.

“Why don’t they do studies of Islamophobia in the Jewish community?” he added.

Rachid Benzine, a French political scientist of Moroccan ancestry, said that some Muslims felt discriminated against in French society, especially around issues of citizenship, and that they believed Jews enjoyed far better treatment.

“What you’ve got to understand is that there is a sort of obsession, fantasized around the position that Jews hold in the French republic, that develops as a kind of resentment, a jealousy,” he said. “And then there is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which gives the whole thing its energy.”

Routine expressions of anti-Semitism are easily encountered in the northern Paris neighborhood of Barbès-Rochechouart, closely linked to anger over Israel.

Under the elevated metro tracks in the heavily immigrant neighborhood, at a crowded open air market during Ramadan, Omar Zarikh, a truck driver of Moroccan descent, quickly warmed up to the subject.

“It’s the Jewish lobby that is behind the governments of the Fifth Republic,” he said, amid denunciations of Israel as he shopped for food to break the Ramadan fast. “They hold the power in all the countries of Europe.”

Michel Serfaty, a rabbi, has led good-will bus tours in Muslim communities in France for more than 10 years, but acknowledged an uphill battle.

“I’ve seen it myself,” he said. “Day after day, the insults, and finally people say, ‘Right, that’s it, we’re leaving.’ ”


As Jews question their future in France, growing difficulties are keeping them away from Israel; the main obstacle facing potential olim is employment, and while some manage to find creative solutions, recent studies have led to the troubling conclusion that the State of Israel is about to miss out on a huge wave of Jewish immigration.

Ynetnews Yaniv Pohoryles, 01.27.18 ,

Every normative Jewish family living in France questions its future in the country, according to the leader of an umbrella organization for French immigrants in Israel.

“Some 500,000 Jews are at a crossroads. There are better days, there are worse days, but they face concerns about the future on a daily basis,” says Qualita CEO Ariel Kandel, who is very familiar with the French Jewry’s dilemmas.

On the one hand, things seem to have slightly calmed down since Emmanuel Macron was elected president. As a result, only 3,500 French immigrated to Israel in 2017—a considerable drop from previous years. On the other hand, France’s Jewish community is in distress and is constantly thinking about the next generation, about its children’s future.

Only 3,500 French immigrated to Israel in 2017—a considerable drop from previous year“

According to a comprehensive study conducted by the French government, 60,000 to 100,000 French Jews want to come to Israel,” says Kandel. “In other words, we have a huge opportunity here to bring a strong, high-quality immigration, rather than lose it in favor of the United States or Canada. I believe that in the event of cuts in the social benefits that are granted in France today, we’ll immediately see a considerable immigration. Many are staying simply because they’re afraid of losing their social rights.”

A symposium held by the Institute for Immigration and Social Integration at the Ruppin Academic Center, however, led to the troubling conclusion that the State of Israel is about to miss out on a huge wave of Jewish immigration from France.

According to some of the speakers at the conference, nearly a decade after the start of French aliyah, the State of Israel is insufficiently prepared to take in the immigrants and has yet to define a strategic plan that would make it possible to absorb tens of thousands of immigrants in the most optimal manner.


 “First and foremost, employment. People often talk about mental differences and language issues, but these things can be solved and can be overcome with the advantages offered by Israel as a Jewish and advanced state. The employment issue is more significant. One of the solutions is to live in Israel and keep working in France.

 “There are many people who fly to Paris every Monday morning and return to Israel on Thursday evening. It helps doctors, lawyers and other professionals hold on to their clientele in France but live in Israel. On the other hand, it takes a heavy toll on family life and makes it difficult to undergo a real immigrant absorption. Others succeed in managing their businesses from afar and flying to France only once a month or two.”

Another solution found by other immigrants, especially those with a business background, is to start new businesses in Israel. Entrepreneur Alexander Margi, for example, started a chain of “French-style” pharmacies and drugstores. According to Kandel, other big investors (like Laurent Levy, who created Music Square in central Jerusalem) are looking for business opportunities in Israel. The successful entry of French sporting goods chain Decathlon may prompt other French businesses to expand to Israel.


One of the problems the immigrants are dealing with has nothing to do with Israel, but rather with fiscal changes. The sharp drop in euro exchange rates has somewhat affected new immigrants’ purchasing power.

Up until a few years ago, some of the new immigrants could afford to buy an apartment in Ra’anana or Herzliya. Now, some of them are moving to other cities like Hadera in the north or Ashdod in the south. Kandel says some even choose peripheral cities like Netivot or Ashkelon.

“The drop in the euro exchange rates has another impact, which is hardly considered—the pensioner population. Their entire pension comes from France, and after receiving X euros a month in previous years, they are now forced to settle for much less after converting the pension to shekels,” Kandel explains.

One of the problems in Israel, and immigrants feel it very well because they have something to compare it to, is the cost of living.

“Yes, that’s quite a difficult problem. People have gotten used to cheap prices in France for food and vacations and other things, and then they come here and have to pay much more for the same stuff. It’s true that things are somewhat easier for kashrut observers, because kosher meat in France is expensive, but in general they pay much more here.

 “The answer to that, apart from proper financial planning and finding a way to earn a living, is that the current generation must realize it is sacrificing itself for its children. It must change its perception and understand that all the investment, efforts and sacrifice are primarily for the young generation. If you truly understand that your children have no future in France, you must provide them with other opportunities—and that can be found in Israel.”


One of the main debates concerning aliyah focuses on the state’s need to invest in it. In other words, what do we gain from it? For example, shouldn’t the “absorption basket” grant and the other benefits received by new immigrants be given to needy people in Israel instead?

Apart from the basic answer—the State of Israel was founded to serve as a home for every interested Jew—there is an economic answer too. A study conducted at Bar-Ilan University reveals that the Israeli economy is expected to gain about NIS 65 billion (roughly $19 billion) in the years 2014-2026 from the absorption of French immigrants. The study’s assumption is that some 100,000 immigrants will have arrived from France by 2026.

According to the study, “While the average budgetary cost for encouraging the immigration and absorption of an immigrant is about NIS 43,000, the average benefit per immigrant in terms of an addition to the GDP is estimated at NIS 644,000, and the additional income from taxes as a result is NIS 161,000.”


For years, medical professionals were forced to take certification tests upon arriving in Israel. There are thousands of doctors, nurses, dentists and pharmacists in Israel who were unable to keep working in their professions because they didn’t pass the local certificate tests.

On the one hand, the state insisted that people who were not certified in Israel could not be given a license to work in medical professions. On the other hand, new immigrants with certificates and decades of experience were banned from practicing their profession in Israel.

After years of struggles, most of the problems have been solved, but some professions have yet to be recognized by the Israeli authorities. One of them is nursing. According to Kandel, some 100 Jewish French nurses are still waiting to be recognized by the Health Ministry. Only following long battles, the ministry decided that the nurses would have to pass a practical test, after which they would be trained to work in Israel.

Pascal Cohen, who has been in Israel for three years, faced difficult bureaucratic barriers too. “I’m a family medicine specialist with decades of experience,” she says. “I knew there would be a number of stages before I could work in Israel, but I never thought it would be so difficult. I studied for a year at Tel Aviv University and did another internship year, but the Scientific Council still refuses to recognize the ‘family physician’ title. They agree to recognize the certificates of people who received their degree after 2007, but not earlier, and they’re demanding that we take another test.”

Cohen, who works today as a de-facto family physician, is offended by the fact that she hasn’t earned the status and salary that should be attached to her professional position and years of experience.

“On the one hand, I’m practicing my profession, but on the other hand, the discrimination in recognizing the degrees is unbearable, and so is the fact that after everything I’ve been through they still want me to take another test. I’m 50 years old, I have a job and a family. I can’t afford to study for a test like a young student. We may have to seek the High Court’s help in the end to solve this problem.”

 Have you had second thoughts about your decision to make aliyah?

 “Sometimes I feel it may have not been worth coming, but if you look at the full picture and at the children’s absorption and future—the balance is positive after all. It’s without a doubt more difficult than I expected, but there are big advantages here, and it’s easier and nicer to be a religious Jew in Israel today than in Paris.”

 Honey trap: Live here, work there

The Qualita organization is trying to solve the employment barrier by creating a new center with hundreds of job offers. Its members connect the immigrants to different workplaces and try to make successful matches.

Another solution, which is mainly available in cities with a large French population like Netanya and Ashdod, is to live here and work for companies there. These cities have dozens of call centers that provide services to French companies. The centers employ thousands of new immigrants in sales and customer service jobs for businesses in France. For example, selling insurance or a newspaper subscription to customers in France from Ashdod.

In a recent symposium, Dr. Karin Amit of the Institute for Immigration and Social Integration at the Ruppin Academic Center presented a study on immigrants who keep working in their native language.

“This is a relatively new phenomenon, which we haven’t seen before,” she says. “In the 1990s, immigrants from the Soviet Union worked in low-paying jobs, and advanced in the employment world only after learning Hebrew. Now, some French immigrants keep working in French and skip entering the Israeli labor market.

“On the one hand, globalization has made it possible to work from far away and maybe even earn a nice living, but on the other hand, it’s a sort of honey trap. You don’t bother making an effort to really integrate into the Israeli market, and it has its implications.

“Another problem is that there are immigrants from high-skilled professions who find themselves in these call centers, either because they didn’t have the energy to go through the whole process of translating their degrees for the Israeli market, or because of how easy and convenient it is to find a job and make a living in these places.”


“Making a living is important, but there are other aspects too. These are unstable places, where the managers can ask employees to do things that are not as acceptable in organized and stable workplaces. Furthermore, the fact that the parent generation doesn’t learn Hebrew affects the children too and the quality of their absorption into the Israeli society. The immigrants aren’t really disconnecting from their native country. They’re both here and there—moving between the two worlds.”


“I agree that every immigrant is responsible for his own fate. They made a decision to come to Israel and there are things they can do to ease and help their absorption. Clearly, absorption failures cannot be blamed on the state alone, but because people come here with different backgrounds and different abilities, it’s clear that not everyone will take advantage of the resources offered by the state. Some of them, due to lack of ability or knowledge, will face difficulties.”


Small settlement has been named La-Mort-aux-Juifs since the Middle Ages

Daily Mail, John Hall and Peter Allen 2014  

Anger against the small settlement of La-Mort-aux-Juifs - which has a population of less than 20 and is around 60 miles south of Paris - comes amid increasing claims of anti-Jewish prejudice in France.

The Simon Wiesenthal Centre, an internationally renowned Jewish pressure group, has now sent a letter to France's Interior Minister to complain about the hamlet's name, and express shock that nothing has previously been done to address its controversial moniker.

Controversial: Anger against the small settlement of La-Mort-aux-Juifs- which has a population of less than 20 and is 60 miles south of Paris - comes amid increasing claims of anti-Jewish prejudice in France +2

Shimon Samuels, director of the SWC, said he was 'shocked to discover the existence of a village in France officially called 'Death to Jews'.

Referring to the Second World War Nazi Occupation and the French collaborator government, Mr Samuels added: 'It is extremely shocking that this name has slipped under the radar in the 70 years that have passed since France was liberated from Nazism and the Vichy regime.'

Local police and the national railway, the SNCF, assisted the Nazis during the Holocaust, which saw about 76,000 French Jews murdered.

Many more were persecuted in major cities, including Paris, where 'round-ups' were regularly carried out by the Nazis.

But the deputy mayor of the village of Courtemaux - population 289 - which has jurisdiction over 'La-Mort-aux-Juifs', said nobody had anything to be ashamed of.

'It's ridiculous. This name has always existed,' said Marie-Elizabeth Secretand, in an interview with France's national news agency, AFP.

'No one has anything against the Jews, of course. It doesn't surprise me that this is coming up again.'

History: Local police and the national railway, the SNCF, assisted the Nazis during the Holocaust, which saw about 76,000 French Jews (pictured) murdered +2

History: Local police and the national railway, the SNCF, assisted the Nazis during the Holocaust, which saw about 76,000 French Jews (pictured) murdered

Changing the name would require a decision by the municipal council, and Ms Secretand said this was unlikely to be successful.

'Why change a name that goes back to the Middle Ages or even further?,' she said. 'We should respect these old names.

'A previous municipal council, at least 20 years ago, already refused to change the name of this hamlet, which consists of a farm and two houses.'

The Israeli offensive against Gaza, in which hundreds of civilians including young children have died, has led to claims of increased anti-Semitism in France.

Others say that the increasing electoral success of the far-right National Front, whose founder Jean Marie Le Pen is a convicted anti-Semite, is another reason why Jews are feeling unsafe.

There are currently around 500,000 Jews in France, but many are expressing a desire to emigrate to places where they will feel more secure.

Castrillo Matajudios - which means 'Castrillo Kill Jews' - is a Spanish village which voted to change its name in May.


La Mort aux Juifs was a hamlet under the jurisdiction of the French commune of Courtemaux in the Loiret department in north-central France. Its name has been translated as "Death to Jews" or "The death of the Jews".

The name dates to the 14th century. According to toponymist Pierre-Henri Billy, the name was initially "la mare au juin″, which means "the liquid manure pond" in local old French. Like in other toponyms in the area, those words evolved, becoming ultimately "la Mort aux Juifs" with an intermediate form "la mare au Juif" quoted by the local historian Paul Gache. The transformation of "mare" (pond) into "mort" (death) is very frequent in old French toponyms, and "juin" (liquid manure) would have become "juif" (Jew) in two steps, first a denasalization turning "juin" into "jui" and then a graphical change into "juif", which had the same pronunciation in old French.


In August 2014, the Simon Wiesenthal Center petitioned the French government to change the name., which it claimed translates as "Death to the Jews", a translation rejected in France. A similar request had been denied in 1992. Under pressure from the national authorities however, the municipal council retired the name in January 2015. The area is now split between the nearby hamlets of Les Croisilles and La Dogetterie.


The Antisemitic Derangement,   Townhall, Jeff Jacoby | Jan 14, 2015

The Islamization of France in 2013   Gatestone Institute

The Muslim Presence in France  pp10-11  A French Islam is Possible, Institut Montaigne 2016

The Marranos of Rouen

Trapped by History: France and Its Jews    World Affairs, David A. Bell, 2009

France, Virtual Jewish History Tour Jewish Virtual Library

The Expulsion of the Jews from France, 1182 CE   Fordham University

Expulsion of Jews from France in 1306    BBC

French Jews win right to choose their own names The Times of Israel,  Rebecca Benhamour, April 3, 2013

The Destruction of the Jews of France (during WW2) by the Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team

‘What if your daughter married a Muslim?’   France 24



Jews have been documented in France since ancient times. During the Middle Ages, they were periodically expelled and then allowed to return.  In 1384, about 100,000 Jews had to leave France.  It was also a major center for Jewish education.  For instance, Rashi was in Troyes around 1100 CE, growing wine grapes, teaching and commenting.

Persecution increased in the Middle Ages with expulsion, usually for financial reasons, becoming common as debts vanished when Jews were expelled.  They would be re-admitted on payment of an admission fee and to restore their tax payments.  The French Revolution led to the emancipation of its Jewish population. Despite legal equality antisemitism remained an issue, as illustrated by the Dreyfus affair of the late 19th  early 20th century.

Today, France has the third largest Jewish population in the world (after Israel and the United States) estimated at about 500,000, mainly in Paris, Marseille, Strasbourg, Lyon, and Toulouse. Most are Sephardi and Mizrahi from North Africa and the Mediterranean region with communities ranging from ultra-Orthodox to secular. Recent emigration to Israel has grown substantially following the increase in antisemitism.

On the 7th January 2015 Paris saw the murder of ten senior editorial staff and two policemen in response to a cartoon of Mohammed in the satirical magazine ‘Charlie Hebdo’ leading to woldwide revulsion.   Time will tell if this is the tipping point of ‘French jihad’ actions.






in France


The Disputation

Of Paris

Talmud Burning


of the
Zones of Settlements

The Dreyfus Affair

The Holocaust
in France During WW2

Vichy Policy on
Jewish Deportation

Post World War 2 France

‘They Spit When I Walked in the Street’:
The ‘New Anti-Semitism’ in France

Between Two Worlds: French Jews at a Crossroads

Activists Demand Tiny French Village
Changes its Name from 'Death
to the Jews