It was Shabbat and I was in Paris so I decided to go to the Grand Synagogue of Paris (also known Synagogue de la Victoire) with a family member.

The streets approaching the synagogue were narrow and I had to repeatedly stop and let the person going in the opposite direction pass.

Finally, we reached the building.

It was a tall Byzantine-inspired edifice.

A unformed and armed man motioned for us to go around to the front.

We passed through a security post and entered the synagogue.

I opened the door and faced a huge sanctuary with high ceilings, stained glass windows and a wide, wrap around balcony..

The bimah was located about 2/3 into the room. Behind it was a long ascending stairway leading to the Aron Kodesh

The women were seated along the perimeter of the first floor.

I thought I’d try out my college French.

“Pardon, madame, “I said to a friendly-looking woman, “Ou se trouve les siddurs?”

“Over there,” she said gesturing. “I’m an American,” she added.

I sat on a wooden pew and watched the service.

The Askenazi tunes were familiar.

A handsome young boy expertly read the morning prayers, then went on to read the torah and I soon realized that this was the day of his bar mitzvah.

A well trained male choir added much to the service.

The rabbi was energetic and friendly.

I watched the women in my section come and go.

They would kiss each other on both cheeks.

I wondered if the elderly ones had been child survivors of the Holocaust.

The First and Second Wars, I thought,, continue to hang heavily over the Parisian people, especially the Jews.

The boy stepped forward to deliver a speech.

His soft voice was lost in the cavernous interior of the Grand Synagogue.

Suddenly, he broke down, unable to go on.

I didn’t understand. He had done everything so expertly and confidently.

The Rabbi came up behind him, embraced him, smiled and whispered in his ear.

The boy struggled.

After a while, he began again.

The service concluded.

“Do you know what happened?”, I asked the American woman.

“His grandmother was killed in the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh,” she said.

I stared at her.

“My husband and I were friends with his grandmother.”

We walked outside for kiddish.

Standing among the milling congregants, I looked up and noticed a series of floor to ceiling stone panels with hundreds of engraved names on the back wall. At the top of each plaque were the words “Morts Pour La France 1914-1918”.

“I know someone who lost an uncle in World War I,” I told my relative.

After a short search we found his name.

He had been 19.

His niece, now in her 90s, had told me that her grandfather had received a medal.

Just before the Germans occupied Paris, he removed it, lay down and died.

QOSHE - Le Terrorisme - Elaine Rosenberg Miller
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Le Terrorisme

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30.11.2022

It was Shabbat and I was in Paris so I decided to go to the Grand Synagogue of Paris (also known Synagogue de la Victoire) with a family member.

The streets approaching the synagogue were narrow and I had to repeatedly stop and let the person going in the opposite direction pass.

Finally, we reached the building.

It was a tall Byzantine-inspired edifice.

A unformed and armed man motioned for us to go around to the front.

We passed through a security post and entered the synagogue.

I opened the door and faced a huge sanctuary with high ceilings, stained glass windows and a wide, wrap around balcony..

The bimah was located about 2/3 into the room. Behind it was a long ascending stairway leading to the Aron Kodesh........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)


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