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April 16, 2019 11:36 am

French Jewish Leaders Grieve for Notre Dame Cathedral Fire, Pledge Solidarity With Catholic Church

avatar by Ben Cohen

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Parisian firefighters working in Notre Dame Cathedral after a devastating fire destroyed the roof of the historic landmark. Photo: Reuters / Yves Herman.

Leaders of the Jewish community in France continued to express profound sorrow on Tuesday over the devastating fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, which ravaged the roof of the 850-year-old building and caused its famous spire to collapse.

Haim Korsia, France’s chief rabbi, said on Twitter that he was praying for the Catholic Church and “especially Monsignor [Michel] Aupetit,” the archbishop of Paris.

Francis Kalifat — president of communal representative body CRIF — expressed his “immense sadness” over the fire. A separate statement from CRIF said the organization shared the entire French nation’s “broken heart.”

Sacha Ghozlan, president of the Union of Jewish Students in France, said that he was “very saddened to see Notre Dame de Paris on fire. Strength and courage to our heroes, firefighters in Paris who act to extinguish the fire.”

Ariel Goldmann — the president of the Fonds Social Juif Unifié (FSJU), the main association of Jewish educational and cultural bodies in France — spoke of his “horror” at the images of the burning cathedral. “As French Jews, we are with you,” Goldmann said in a Twitter message to the Catholic community.

Rabbi Delphine Horvilleur — head of the liberal movement in the French Jewish community — shared a video of the popular Israeli singer Noa performing the traditional Catholic hymn, “Ave Maria,” along with a message of solidarity to “the Christians, the Parisians, and the whole of humanity.”

Israeli leaders meanwhile added their voices to the chorus of international sympathy in the fire’s wake. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the cathedral as “a heritage site for the culture and religion of France and for humanity as a whole,” while President Reuven Rivlin alluded to the cathedral’s hallowed place in French art and literature.

 

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