"It was very hard for me to leave Nice—my parents are buried there—but I think that it's over. France doesn't have any place for Jews today."
59-year-old Rabbi Lanker and his wife immigrated to Israel from Nice recently, joining three of their children and preceding a fourth in the country; their family feels safer in Israel than their birthplace.
The Lanker family
Together with the rabbi came 144 new immigrants with the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. They received a warm welcome at Ben Gurion Airport, and they each left from there in their own directions to new lives in Israel.
Lanker, a married father of seven and grandfather of 15, was a rabbi in Nice's Jewish community for 20 years. He also taught Talmud at a Jewish school in the city. Up until a few years ago, his synagogue was completely full on the Sabbath, but then something began to change. Congregants said that they were scared to come, and seats began to empty. "Up until eight years ago, it was fine here for Jews. In recent years, anti-Semitism began. I've already had 'Evil Jew' yelled at me a few times," the rabbi said. [...]
"In Nice, I'm very afraid," said Ma'ayanah [the rabbi's daughter who moved to Israel]. "I haven't been here in a year. For the week that I’m here, I don't go out alone in the morning. I obviously take off my star-of-David necklace. When I lived her, I wouldn't go out at night at all. However, in Israel, I go out until four in the morning without fear. I don't belong to Nice, even though I was born here. In Israel, I feel at home; it's my place."
[...] When asked if they had experienced any anti-Semitic violence in Nice, Sarah recounted, "My son doesn't wear a kipah outside of the school. One day, he was wearing a hat; a few youths yelled that he was Jewish, took off his hat and hit him. He managed to get away from them and run home. We were in shock. Both of us cried. In France, we don't go freely onto the streets. My kids only go out to school and come home. We're immigrating to Israel because we want our children to have lives."