UK Synagogue Hires French-Speaking Rabbi Amid Influx of Jews From France
A UK synagogue has hired a French-speaking rabbi to serve the congregation’s Gallic community that has immigrated to Britain largely since the ISIS-inspired terrorist attacks last January in Paris against a satirical newspaper and a kosher supermarket.
The Liberal Jewish Synagogue in St. John’s Wood will hold a French-speaking service starting at the end of January, led by a part-time rabbi, René Pfertzel, according to the UK Evening Standard.
Pfertzel, who also serves the Jewish community of Lyon in France, said thousands of French Jews had emigrated from France to the UK since the attacks.
According to a 2015 report by the French Institute of Public Opinion, Fifty-nine percent of French Jews know somebody who left the country in the last year. Thirty-0ne percent said they have relatives who have gone to the UK, US, Canada or other countries other than Israel.
In the same study, nearly half of French Jews, or 43%, reported having suffered antisemitic aggression. According to the Evening Standard, the number of antisemitic attacks in France in 2014 doubled, accounting for half of all hate crimes, despite the fact that Jews account for a minuscule share of the French population (about 600,000 out of more than 66 million).
The storming of a kosher supermarket by an ISIS-inspired man who killed four people was the event that many say triggered the current wave of emigration. More than 7,000 French Jews emigrated to Israel last year.
“People are starting to feel insecure,” said Pfertzel, who said some 100 French Jews joined the synagogue recently.