Friday, June 10, 2016

France: Fear of terrorism leads young Paris Jews to parlor games

Via Times of Israel:
But more recently came a time of change for Parisian Jewry, as many community members started skipping cultural events out of fear of increasing anti-Semitic attacks. France saw a 10-year record of 851 incidents in 2014, and several deadly shootings by Islamists.

As recently as four years ago, “there was a social event for young Jews in Paris every other night,” Harroch said. “Now this scene for people my age has taken a huge step backwards.”

Partly to deal with the problem, leaders of French and European Jewry are preparing to open an $11 million community center in central Paris next year.

But on the ground, young French Jews like Harroch are already taking part in efforts to restore the Jewish cultural scene through Moishe House, an international project offering subsidized housing to young Jews willing to turn their home into a social hub for other Jews their age.


Like most other guests, Hayat and Harroch learned of Moishe House Beaubourg through word of mouth or on Facebook. They had to pass a short interview with organizers to get the address, which is neither listed nor published online for security reasons. There are no Moishe House signs on the building or the apartment door. The apartment’s slot on the intercom board bears the name of the previous tenant.

Despite these precautions, the absence from Moishe House Beaubourg of soldiers and police, who are guarding other Jewish institutions across France, makes some guests reflect nostalgically on better days.

“The way this Jewish institution is set up means that coming here gives you a measure of normalcy,” said Gabriel Saban, a 30-year-old television composer. “You just ring the bell and walk in, like it used to be when we were children.”

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