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April 16, 2019 1:28 pm

Jewish Groups ‘Heartbroken’ Over Notre Dame Cathedral Fire

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A view of the debris inside Notre Dame de Paris in the aftermath of a fire that devastated the cathedral. Photo: Christophe Petit Tesson / Pool via Reuters.

Members of the Jewish community reacted with sadness to the massive fire that burst through the roof of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris on Monday and toppled its spire.

The roof was undergoing construction. As of Tuesday, the fire was being called an accident, though an investigation was underway.

The American Jewish Committee said it was “heartbroken.”

“This is a tragedy for Catholics, the people of France, and all who revere that majestic edifice. We are hopeful that it will be swiftly restored to its prior splendor,” the AJC tweeted.

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“Notre Dame Cathedral is an icon of the Parisian skyline and a testament to human ingenuity. Let us all hope for a speedy resolution to this tragedy before more priceless history is lost,” tweeted the World Jewish Congress.

Shimon Samuels — director of international relations for the Simon Wiesenthal Center — wrote in a letter to French President Emmanuel Macron, “On behalf of our over 400,000 members, the Simon Wiesenthal Center wishes to express solidarity with France and the French people at the tragic destruction of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.”

 “We were about to send greetings for a tranquil Easter to our French Catholic members and for Passover to the Jewish community,” he added. “Throughout history, and especially under Nazi occupation and Vichy, synagogues were burned and cemeteries desecrated. We thus acutely feel the pain of our Christian friends at this time.”

A memorial to those deported from Vichy France to Nazi concentration camps during the Holocaust, Mémorial des Martyrs de la Déportation, is located underground behind the cathedral.

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