Friday, December 3rd | 29 Kislev 5782

April 4, 2018 11:37 am

Sarah Halimi’s Family Launches Israel-Based Charity in Memory of French-Jewish Pensioner Murdered in Antisemitic Attack One Year Ago

avatar by Ben Cohen

Murdered French-Jewish pensioner Sarah Halimi. Photo: Halimi family.

One year on from the brutal murder of French-Jewish pensioner Sarah Halimi in her Paris apartment in an antisemitic attack, relatives and friends of the former kindergarten teacher have launched a charitable association in her name to assist French Jews emigrating to Israel.

In an interview with the French-Jewish newspaper Actualité Juive, Rabbi Chalom Malachi — Dr. Halimi’s son-in-law — said that after her murder, “we felt we had to do something, that we had to act.”

Rabbi Malachi explained that the “education of children was the vocation of my mother-in-law.” Halimi spent thirty years running the kindergarten attached to one of the leading Orthodox synagogues in Paris, on the Rue Pavée in the French capital’s historic Jewish quarter.

The new charity honoring Halimi — “Derech Sarah” — will provide educational advice and support to the children of French olim in Israel, many of whom have struggled in making the transition to the Israeli school system. The charity quietly began its work two months ago, and is already assisting fifty children in Jerusalem. Rabbi Malachi said that the charity now plans to extend its work to other cities in Israel, including Netanya, Ashdod and Raanana.

The first anniversary of Halimi’s murder on Wednesday was solemnly commemorated by the French-Jewish community, still reeling from the horrific killing of another elderly Jewish lady — 85-year-old Holocaust survivor Mireille Knoll — who lived in public housing in the same neighborhood as Halimi, and who was found stabbed to death in her apartment on March 23.

Halimi was murdered in the early hours of April 4, 2017, by a 27-year-old intruder — Malian immigrant Kobili Traore — who subjected to his victim to a frenzied beating before ejecting her from her third-floor window. Neighbors and police at the scene reported that Traore — a petty criminal who frequented radical Islamist mosques —  bellowed “Satan!” and other terms of abuse during Halimi’s ordeal.

In a statement paying tribute to Halimi, the French-Jewish representative organization CRIF pointed out that from the day of her murder, it had demanded that “the whole truth be publicly revealed about this sordid killing.” While the two men in custody for Knoll’s death were swiftly charged by police with having committed an antisemitic hate crime, Halimi’s killer was until very recently regarded by the French authorities as mentally unfit to stand trial on a charge of antisemitism.

Halimi “was not murdered because she happened to be in the killer’s way, or because  either because she lived in that building…or because she would have ‘had money,’ the CRIF statement declared. “Sarah Halimi was slaughtered because she was Jewish and for that reason alone.”

CRIF urged French political leaders to acknowledge the “new reality of French society” — the hostility toward Jews that is increasingly prevalent among the country’s Muslim community. The statement cited a September 2016 survey by the Institut Montaigne — a prominent think tank in Paris — showing that a full 50 percent of French Muslims aged between 15 and 25 harbored antisemitic beliefs and prejudices.

“Our society is struggling to face this new reality and name the evil when it comes to a Jewish victim,” the statement noted.

Other Jewish organizations and influencers marked the anniversary of Halimi’s murder by expressing similar concerns on their social media feeds.

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