Acclaimed Israeli performers and a popular American radio DJ entertained thousands at a festive Chanukah concert in Paris, conveying a spirit of global unity in the face of terror. The festivities followed a solemn ceremony in memory of the victims of terror.
Marking the first yahrzeit (anniversary of death, according to the Hebrew calendar) of the victims of the terror attacks at the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket and Charlie Hebdo magazine headquarters in January 2014, thousands of locals joined with Jews from around the world at the Great Synagogue of Paris on Wednesday, the fourth night of Chanukah, for a concert in their memory.
Earlier, in a solemn moment of sorrow and remembrance, the families of the victims, including some who came to Paris from Israel and Tunisia for the commemoration, were joined by dignitaries from France, Israel and the United States as they recited the traditional Jewish mourning prayer – the Kaddish – and then lit the candles in celebration of the holiday miracle. The event – held outside the Bataclan theater, one of the sites of the multiple terror attacks on November 13 – was organized by the New York-based Nachum Segal Network together with Israel’s Ministry of Diaspora Affairs and the Jewish community of Paris. Titled “Let There Be Light: The Concert of Jewish Unity,” the event honored the Jews living in France and Jewish communities throughout Europe.
Israeli Minister of Education and Diaspora Affairs Naftali Bennett greeted the crowd via video, saying, “Our responsibility, as Jews, is to choose to take the flame of the Chanukah candles and shine light throughout the world by continuing to act with pride and courage. Throughout our people’s history, we have faced tough times, as we do today. But you must always remember that we are one family, and when we stand together, we can overcome any difficulty that comes our way – Am Yisrael Chai (The Jewish People lives forever)!”
The mood soon took on a more festive tone as famed Israeli performers, including Yehoram Gaon, Ohad Moskowitz, Itzik Dadya and Uziah Tzadok, delighted the crowd with their latest musical hits, and the event became a lively Chanukah celebration. “It was important to us that our event send a strong message of support to the Jewish communities in France and other areas of the globe,” said American radio DJ Nahum Segal, founder of the NSN network and host of the popular JM in the AM radio show. “They need to know that even in the face of an almost constant threat of terror all over the world, their brothers and sisters deeply care about them and are standing right by their side, and that when Jews are in challenging situations anywhere, the collective Jewish heart aches. This event of Jewish unity brought light and joy to a place where it is needed and ensured that Chanukah was celebrated in the most festive way possible.”
“It was very special for all of us to honor this vibrant and important Jewish community,” Segal stated.
“I always do my shopping at Hyper Cacher,” said Parisian Elimia Bismuth. “It’s hard and emotional, but it’s important for me to return as a Jew. I was one of the first to return. After the recent [Nov. 13 Islamic terror] attacks, the government began to fully comprehend the dangers that have long faced the Jewish community.”
Gilles Gade, CEO of Cross River Bank in New Jersey which co-sponsored the event said that “Segal’s tremendous sense of responsibility for another Jew in distress, wherever he may be, is something we should all admire and emulate. The event was broadcast live to Jewish communities’ throughout the world. Nachum Segal, who is widely regarded as one of the world’s preeminent Jewish media personalities, also hosted two of his famous radio shows from Paris to bring the stories of French Jewry to his global audience.”
On Sunday evening, the first night of Chanukah, an estimated 6,000 people joined the lighting of the menorah at the Eiffel Tower in an event sponsored by Chabad of Paris in defiance of warnings by officials to keep a low profile. A highlight was a guest appearance by famous actor and former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who wished the crowd a Happy Chanukah. “Good prevails over evil,” he declared.
By: Yehuda Barkai and United with Israel Staff