Suburban Paris synagogue nixes chief rabbi event amid fear of violence over Gaza

May 16, 2018

(JTA) — Amid fears of anti-Semitic violence at anti-Israel protests in and around Paris, a synagogue of a southern suburb cancelled for undisclosed reasons an event featuring the city’s chief rabbi.

The event planned for Wednesday evening with Rabbi Michel Gugenheim at the Yaguel Yaacov synagogue in Montrouge was postponed abruptly hours before it was scheduled to begin. The Consistoire, French Jewry’s organization responsible for religious services, sent out an email to all of the recipients of its correspondence telling them the event had been postponed indefinitely.

The cancellation comes amid warnings by the National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism, or BNVCA, of an elevated risk for anti-Semitic violence at or around rallies planned for Wednesday over deadly clashes between Israeli forces and protesters near Israel’s border with Gaza on Monday.

Contacted by JTA, a Consistoire spokesperson and the spokesperson of the Jewish community of Montrouge declined to divulge any information regarding the reason for the cancellation.

Other communal events are scheduled to take place as planned, including a lecture by Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein on Wednesday evening at a hotel in central Paris that is being organized by the CRIF umbrella group of French Jewish communities.

Currently, an anti-Israel protest rally is planned for Wednesday evening at Republique Square, which is located about a mile away from the hotel where the CRIF event is scheduled to take place.

Another rally is being organized in the northern suburb of Stains, by its mayor, Azzedine Taibi.

BNVCA in a statement said that the Stains Jewish community has in recent years been severely depleted because of “insecurity, anti-Semitic violence and Palestine activism” there. It also warned the rallies organized by the mayor may trigger anti-Semitic attacks there and beyond.

In 2014, more than a dozen synagogues in France were targeted with firebombs or gunshots amid a wave of protests throughout Paris over Israel’s attacks on Hamas in Gaza. At the Don Isaac Abravanel Synagogue in Paris, dozens of Jewish men confronted more than 100 Arab men outside the place of worship, where hundreds of congregants were besieged for 20 minutes awaiting arrival of police.

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