‘We no longer have tears’: Paris synagogue hosts hostage families

More than 500 people gathered at the iconic Great Synagogue in Paris on Tuesday to highlight the plight of Israeli hostages held by Hamas terrorists and to speak out against rising antisemitism in France.

By Ben Cohen, The Algemeiner

Speakers at the event included the Israeli Ambassador to France, Jewish leaders, and relatives of the hostages.

“We no longer have tears, our eyes are dry, we are emptied, three weeks later. I ask only one thing, that they return,” Ayelet Sela — seven of whose relatives were abducted at Kibbutz Be’eri during the Oct. 7 pogrom — told the assembly.

Daniel Toledano, whose brother was seized during the Hamas attack on the Nova music festival, said that the lack of information about his fate over the last three weeks “was worse than knowing he is dead.”

“We have come to change what we hear from French public opinion,” Toledano added, to a standing ovation. “So stay by our side and help us release all the hostages.”

Tuesday’s event took place as the Jewish community reeled from the latest antisemitic outrage, involving dozens of Stars of David daubed on the outer walls of several buildings in the Paris region.

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Some 60 Stars of David were painted on the walls of buildings in the 14th arrondissement of the French capital, as well as in Saint-Ouen, Saint-Denis, Aubervilliers, Vanves, and Fontenay-aux-Roses. An interview with one elderly Jewish resident conducted by broadcaster BFMTV went viral on Tuesday after she spoke of her profound fear. “I am crying because I am rediscovering the hatred I knew as a child,” the woman said through tears.

Commenting on the vandalism, Joel Mergui — president of the Consistoire, which administers Jewish places of worship in France — declared that Jews were at a “turning point” in history, confronting a “wave of antisemitism that is reaching new heights.”

One woman who attended the meeting at the Grand Synagogue said that the appearance of the graffiti had terrified her. “This is the story of my parents,” the weeping 75-year-old woman, who gave her name as Arlette, told the AFP news agency.

She said that she had arrived at the synagogue alone after friends who had agreed to accompany her decided not to attend.

“They were afraid,” she said.

A number of non-Jews also attended Tuesday’s night ceremony in solidarity with the Jewish community.

“Taking people hostage, even animals don’t do it,” Daniel Jourdan, 56, told the news outlet La Nouvelle République.

Addressing the French parliament on Tuesday, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said that of the nearly 900 incidents of antisemitism reported since the Hamas pogrom in southern Israel on Oct. 7, 60 percent had been “directed at people, not property.”

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