French PM joins Jewish community in remembering Hyper Cacher victims

Marcy Oster

Members of France's Jewish community wave Israeli and French flag, and light memorial candles at a ceremony outside the Hyper Cacher supermarket in Paris, a year after four Jewish shoppers were killed in a terror attack on the store. (Flash90 photo/Serge Attal)

Members of France’s Jewish community wave Israeli and French flag, and light memorial candles at a ceremony outside the Hyper Cacher supermarket in Paris, a year after four Jewish shoppers were killed in a terror attack on the store. (Flash90 photo/Serge Attal)

(JTA) — France’s prime minister said he regrets that large numbers of French Jews have left the country for Israel, during a ceremony to remember four Jewish victims of terror in Paris.

“France would not be France” without its Jews, Manuel Valls said Saturday evening at a commemoration ceremony held outside the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket, marking one year since Islamist Amedy Coulibaly held several  patrons hostage, killing four Jewish shoppers before he was killed in a raid by police.

The commemoration was arranged by the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions of France, or CRIF. It was attended by families of the victims and survivors, and representatives of the French Jewish community.

Valls acknowledged the “immense anquish” of the Jewish community and scolded those who attack it. “For these enemies who attack their compatriots, who tear apart the contract that unites us, there can be no worthy explanation,” he said.

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French immigration to Israel, or aliyah, has rocketed to record levels over the past three years as the country has confronted rising anti-Semitism and a series of attacks that claimed nearly 150 lives in Paris in 2015. Nearly 8,000 French Jews immigrated to Israel in 2015.

“Despite continuing traumatic feelings, life has returned to normal with a renewed sense of fraternity,” said Rabbi Haim Korsia, who is the chief  rabbi of France, during the ceremony.

Also on Saturday, French President François Hollande unveiled a plaque in memory of Clarissa Jean-Philippe, a 26-year-old policewoman who was killed by Coulibaly on Jan. 8, 2015 in the southern Paris suburb of Montrouge.

On Jan. 5, Hollande unveiled a memorial plaque outside the Hyper Cacher, which listed the names of those killed at the market on Jan. 9, 2015. He also unveiled a plaque at the offices of the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine with the names of the 12 victims of the Jan. 7 terrorist attack there two days earlier. Two brothers who were associates of the Hyper Cacher killer perpetrated the attack.

A public ceremony is set to be held on Sunday at Paris’ Place de la Republique to remember the attacks and the national and international unity that they brought about a year earlier at  during a march that drew 1.6 million people, as well as national and international leaders, to rally in Paris.  An oak tree will be planted during the ceremony.

Also over the weekend, mosques throughout France opened their doors to visitors.

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