Paris has an important Jewish community, and it shows in the Belleville neighborhood in the North East of Paris, near the Place d’Italie in the South, and in the Marais district in the heart of the capital. Serge Cwajgenbaum is Secretary General of the European Jewish Congress.
"Jewish life is booming in spite of what you can read about anti-semitism, there is a normality of Jewish life in Paris and you can see it, you can feel it, there are lots of interesting spots in Paris, being restaurants or cultural activities, and they attract not only Jews but non- Jews as well."
There are Jewish book stores, restaurants, and pastry shops all along the rue des Rosiers here in Le Marais, and it smells good in the Sacha Kinkelstajn pastry shop. It was opened by a Polish family three generations ago.
Serge Cwajgenbaum: "Historically Jews emigrated to France at the end od the nineteenth century, Jews who were running away from the pogroms in Russia and in Poland. At the time there were around three hundred thousand Jews in France. Unfortunately this community was dismantled during the war, about seventy five thousand Jews were taken from France to the death camps. After the war, Jews from eastern Europe who survived returned to France, and simultaneously there was a wave of immigration from North Africa, Jews from Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia as well, so today we say that there is more than half a million Jews living in France".
Inhabitant of Belleville: "I was born in Tunisia, I arrived in Paris in 1967. Here in the Belleville district, we have all kept our Tunisian roots. Jews and non Jews, we’re all brothers here, when someone dies we are all sad whether the person was Jewish or not, we’re family!"
Serge Cwajgenbaum from the Paris based European Jewish Congress is right. In fact Paris music venues often showcase Israeli and Palestinian or Lebanese bands the same night. For instance last week, a Lebanese band performed just before Isabo, a Tel Aviv disco rock band. Neal, the drummer, says the event was both moving and symbolic.
"The band that played before us was from Lebanon, and after their concert we took pictures and kissed and hug. Three months after the war, I think it’s a very nice concept that can contribute to restoring peace".
Speaking of artists, Modigliani was Jewish and has lived in Paris, his paintings are on display in several of the capital’s contemporary art Museums. If you prefer the Opera, the ceiling of the Opéra Garnier in Paris is a masterpiece, and it was designed by Jewish painter Marc Chagall.Listen to the report:
In Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Hercegovina, there is a small but active Jewish community. Both its history, which dates back to the 16th century and the days of the exodus of the Ladino-speaking Spanish Jews, and its present situation in post-war Bosnia, sets it apart from the Jewish communities of other European capitals.
The Nazi regime and the atrocities of World War II almost wiped out Jewish life in Germany. But, the number of Jews has been steadily increasing since the early 1990s, mainly a result of many Jews from the former Soviet Union moving to Germany. Comprehensive education for rabbis is once again available in Germany. This year, for the first time since the war, three Rabbis were ordained in Dresden. Germany's Jewish communities are awakening to new life. Kirsten Rulf visited one of them as he settled into his new job.
The jewish community in Sweden dates back to several hundreds years ago and the Jewish migration has had several huge waves. Gaby Katz from Radio Sweden has visited the Jewish Museum in Stockholm and they special exhibitions portraying Jews. She investigated the place of the Jewish minority in Sweden.
Romania belatedly acknowledged its role in the Holocaust. It was only in 2004, that a committee for the investigation of the Holocaust crimes published an official report according to which between 280,000 and 380,000 Jews were exterminated by the Romanian army in the war zones of Bassarabia, Bukovina and Transnistria. These are the highest numbers in a country other than Germany. Before 2004, there was very little talk of the scale of Romania’s contribution to the Holocaust. But the last 3 years has seen a lot of campaigning aimed at making Romanians aware of those crimes.
Berte is a Jewish holocaust survivor. In 1943, in Nazi occupied Holland, Berte was rounded up with her parents by the Nazis and sent to Camp Westerbok in the netherlands and then on to Bergen Belsen, the notorious concentration camp in Germany, where she spent the rest of the war. When she was freed by the Russian army in 1945 she was 7 years old. Last month she and 69 other Dutch survivors returned to the site of the camp to finally inaugurate a Dutch memorial. Radio Netherlands' Jonathan Groubert went with her...
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