France under the Wave of anti-Semitism of a magnitude not seen since the Second World War
Since 2000, France has been facing an increase of social protests, which, from October 2018 onwards, took shape in the “Gillet Jaunes” (yellow jackets) movement. This nonpolitical movement was triggered by the anger of the modest strata of French workers who, though employed, face difficulties in paying their monthly bills; as a result, they can no longer tolerate the difference there is between their standard of living and that of the “rich”. And this claim is quite justified: there is a need for more social justice, a sense of sharing when individualism is so prevalent.
The history of France tells us that social demands have long been expressed in the streets… Thus, since October 17, 2018, every Saturday, almost everywhere in the country, and in Paris in particular, the “Yellow Jackets” obstruct the traffic, damaging the country’s economy.
However, as often happens, these demonstrations were joined by thugs and anarchists who, week after week, encouraged violence against private goods and people, especially Jews, the eternal scapegoats in times of crisis. This explains the 2018 increase in the number of anti-Semitic acts in France: 541! This is 74% more than in 2017.
What are the reasons for such hatred against Jews?
First of all, they are suspected of being all rich… (an elderly woman was killed in her apartment in order to have her money stolen, but none was found…) Bankers or not, they are part of the elites, whom the middle-class strata hate unreasonably and are included in the hatred against the financial empires.
Jews have been under attack even to the point of death and simply because they are Jews. Nor are the dead spared! The desecration of cemeteries is a proof of this, but also the case of Simone Veil, a survivor of Auschwitz at the age of 17, whose photo was covered with swastikas.
It must be noted, and this is not something pertaining only to France, but to the whole of these times of ours, the detestation of the State of Israel, which in France is fueled by far-left Muslims, the Salafists, who interpret the Koran literally, longing to return to those practices from the time of the Prophet Mohammed. There are many of them in France, where they consider themselves as conquerors of the country, from where they would like to drive out all “foreigners”, beginning of course with the Jews…
However, there are a few rays of light:
⇒ The French Bishops Conference has given “unfailing support to the Jewish community in France”.
⇒ Shadowing the words of the Prime Minister, “We must ensure that prejudice, ignorance, and rejection are fought against at school level”, the Minister of National Education also stated, “since anti-Semitism is a thermometer of our society, the more we succeed in empowering students to read, write, count, and have a logical sense and a solid general culture, the more we will fight against ignorance and therefore against anti-Semitism”.
⇒ In order to say “no” to anti-Semitism and express support for the Jewish community, rallies were held throughout France. 20,000 people gathered in Paris for this purpose.
To introduce the reflection that is required of us in Sion, and not only in France, I cannot do better than to quote a text of the Pastoral Director for Political Studies, the Catholic representative for the National Assembly, Father Stalla-Bourdillon:
Anti-Semitism is a denial of a transcendent dimension of humanity, of which the Jewish people is, because of its history, the living symbol. To be Jewish is, in Hebrew, “to be to the praise of God”. Jewish identity refers directly to the invincible and discreet presence of God in creation, in history and in each person.Two temptations arise: to erase the Jews in order to strip off the remembrance of the Creator and Savior God in memories and consciences. The second temptation is to want to take the place of the “chosen one”. The Catholic Church finally expressed this new realization at the Second Vatican Council after centuries of rejection of its own root…Thus, the outbreak of religious anti-Semitism manifests a rejection of God’s transcendent truth and goodness, of his action in history, but also the will to supplant his people. Anti-Semitism can only be overcome by a spiritual surge reaching hearts and structures. By digging into the mystery of one’s own life, each person will discover the presence and the expectation of God. Everyone will see how the presence of the Jewish people among the nations speaks more than any other of the divine promise to lead humanity towards its unity and of the fragile human response. The presence of the Jewish people means that humanity’s vocation is not to fear God but to love Him. One can only truly obey Him by welcoming others, peoples, and persons, as a source of profound blessing for all. An invitation to a true conversion. Wherever we are in the world, anti-Semitism is more or less sleeping in everyone’s hearts. Our vocation requires of us to be unfailingly vigilant in detecting what could be contempt, and even worse, a lack of love for Jews. However, love, through all Revelation, from the Old to the New Testament, consists of “being with”, whatever be the circumstances.
Moreover, our vocation requires of us to get to know the people in whom we are rooted, their history, their culture, their tradition and therefore to work tirelessly for this knowledge which is ultimately a search for God. Undoubtedly all the sisters of Sion in France were keen to express their sympathy towards the Jews they have met. Certainly, our institutions will encourage the awareness of a question that, first and foremost, concerns us, and which cannot be ignored in our schools.
It seems that these sad events in France must awaken the vigilance of the entire Congregation.
Sr. Dominique de La Maisonneuve nds
(Eng. trans.Br Cristóvão Oliveira Silva nds)
After a yearly break, Sisters of Notre Dame de Sion are starting again to provide biblical courses for those who want to deepen their understanding of Scriptures in Iasi, Romania. The three proposed courses are: one from the Old Testament, one from the New Testament and a Biblical Hebrew course. More information is included in Romanian below:
Surorile “Notre Dame de Sion” organizează trei cursuri de Biblie – despre Cartea Înţelepciunii, despre Cartea Apocalipsei şi ebraică biblică – pentru toţi cei interesaţi să aprofundeze cuvântul lui Dumnezeu, la sediul din Iaşi.
“Când luăm în mână cu credinţă Sfintele Scripturi şi le citim cu Biserica, omul se plimbă din nou cu Dumnezeu în paradis” (Verbum Domini, nr. 87)
Sunt propuse trei cursuri:
1. “Am ales calea înţelepciunii” – profesor: pr. Iosif Antili (Curs biblic despre Cartea Înţelepciunii)
Cartea Înţelepciunii este o scriere biblică grandioasă prin orizontul fascinant pe care îl delineează şi prin abordarea unor teme fundamentale pentru înţelegerea lumii în general şi pentru aprofundarea misterului omului.
Se vor explora teme precum: misterul regelui Solomon, condamnarea filozofiei clipei prezente, răspunsul lui Dumnezeu vvproblema dreptului suferind, enigma morţii, destinul nemuritor al omului, calea înţelepciunii, posibilitatea cunoaşterii lui Dumnezeu şi rătăcirile idolatriei, mijloacele prin care Dumnezeu acţionează în lume. Cursul este o invitaţie pentru toţi cei doritori de a face câţiva paşi înainte pe calea înţelepeciunii biblice.
Cursul se desfăşoară în zilele următoare: 16 februarie; 2, 16 şi 30 martie; 13 aprilie; 4 şi 18 mai; 1 şi 15 iunie 2019.
2. “Apocalipsa, mister şi semnificaţii” – profesor: pr. Iulian Faraoanu (Curs biblic despre Cartea Apocalipsei)
Cursul îşi propune să introducă pe participanţi în temele principale ale literaturii şi teologiei cărţii Apocalipsei.
Prima parte e dedicată problematicii tradiţiilor si curentelor apocaliptice dezvoltate intre secolele II î.C. – II d.C. A doua parte, cea mai consistentă de altfel, tratează teme ce ajută la descifrarea viziunilor şi simbolurilor din Apocalipsa.
Una dintre intenţii e dorinţa de a corecta prejudecăţi referitoare la Apocalipsă. Ultima scriere a Bibliei este o carte despre speranţă şi fericire.
Cursul se desfăşoară în zilele următoare: 23 februarie; 9 şi 23 martie; 6 aprilie; 11 şi 25 mai; 8 şi 22 iunie 2019.
3. “Universul literelor ebraice” – profesor: sr. Iuliana Neculai, NDS (Curs de ebraică biblică)
Alfabetul ebraic este fascinant datorită profunzimii simbolisticii lui. Un mistic evreu, pe nume Aboulafia, spunea: “Literele ebraice sunt rădăcina întregii înţelepciuni”.
Cursul îşi propune o abordare a alfabetului ebraic prin prezentarea unor rădăcini ebraice, ce va permite de a aprofunda unele cuvinte precum, Amin, Aleluia, …, cuvinte dintre cele mai cunoscute din limba ebraică. Intenţia cursului, pe lângă asimilarea unor elemente de bază ale limbii ebraice, este aceea de a renunţa la unele certitudini şi la trăirea uimirii în faţa unor cuvinte acoperite până acum de traduceri şi de interpretări.
Cursul se desfăşoară în zilele următoare: 16 şi 23 februarie; 2 şi 30 martie; 6 aprilie; 11 şi 25 mai; 1, 8 şi 15 iunie 2019.
Sediul Congregaţiei “Notre Dame de Sion” are adresa: Aleea Grigore Ghica Vodă, nr. 19, Iaşi (Copou).
Pentru înscrierea la aceste cursuri şi alte informaţii: Sr. Iuliana Neculai (NDS), email: email@example.com, tel. 0741.658.651.
“Dacă aş fi fost preot aş fi studiat ebraica şi greaca pentru a putea citi cuvântul lui Dumnezeu pe care El s-a învrednicit să-l exprime în limbajul omenesc” (Thér?se de Lisieux)
“Cuvântul tău, Doamne, este făclie pentru paşii noştri” (Ps 119,105).
Sr. Iuliana Neculai, NDS
The last week of January, I spent in Poland in Podkarpacie Region (formerly Galicia and where I come from), where from the 27 of January, until 3 of February in 70 villages and towns various meetings and events took place to mark the Holocaust Memorial Day in Poland. This invitation to come and become part of these events, came as a result of a meeting with the main organiser Prof. Wacław Wierzbieniec, at the academic conference, in Krakow in 2018.
It was already 11th year, when such commemorations took place in this part of Poland (part of shtetls before II World War and where today there is almost no Jewish Presence). The main initiator and organiser is Prof. Wacław Wierzbieniec, the Professor in the History Department at the University of Rzeszów, as well as head of the Department of History and Culture of Jews, there. Every year Prof. Wierzbieniec invites Holocaust Survivors, who this year came from Holland, Israel, Canada, the US. We were all greeted with friendship by the priests, mayors, residents and especially the school children, who displayed their knowledge about the Holocaust. These events are organised by local people, in parishes, centres, museums, schools and in the Jewish cemeteries or places marked by tragedy of Shoah.
The main celebration took place in Rzeszów, in a parish with the presence of the bishop of place- bp. Wątroba. During the ecumenical ceremony in the main parish, names of Jews and non-Jews from Podkarpacie, who perished during Holocaust were read. We went together to the Jewish cemetery where Jewish prayers, including Kaddish were said by the Rabbi and Jewish participants. Finally, at the Rzeszow University prof. Shimon Redlich (borned in Galicia region and saved by Polish and Ukrainian families during the War) received the highest academic title – the doctor honoris causa for his academic achievements.
Each day I was asked to go to a different place, to schools, museums, centres to give talks concerning Sion and interreligious dialogue. It is worth mentioning that in some of the schools, preparation for this event took place the whole month of January, where children learned about their local and Jewish history related to Shoah. Among the people who participated where the Jewish survivors from this villages and tows who came specially for this occasion and also the families whose members (or their parents or grandparents) received the title of the Righteous Among the Nations. In some places, I was among other speakers, often historians who spoke about Jewish local history.
In all visited places, I was very warmly welcomed. Many people expressed interested in our Sionian story – in our path on Jewish – Christian Dialogue. I was very surprised to discover the number of these commemorations, as 12 years ago nothing much was happening in my region on the local level, especially in these tiny villages who now so well educate their children about the Holocaust history. Every year more towns and villages joins this initiative and in other regions of Poland the 27th of January is marked in main cities.
Unfortunately, news about these events rarely get into the medias, not only in Poland but even more so around the world. Yes, these initiatives often are very local, but the important, as they are able to touch people’s lives and change their view about and relationships with the Neighbour – the one next to or the one who is no (more) so close.
Sr. Kasia Kowalska, NDS
Le Centre de Formation Biblique de la Congrégation Notre Dame de Sion organise une nouvelle session de 2 semaines, centrée sur le thème de l’Espérance dans la Bible, dans l’expérience juive et chrétienne.
« Je sais, moi, les desseins que je forme pour vous, oracle du Seigneur, desseins de paix et non de malheur, pour vous donner un avenir et une espérance. » (Jr 29, 11)
« L’espérance ne déçoit pas car l’amour de Dieu a été répandu dans vos cœurs par le Saint Esprit qui vous a été donné. » (Rm 5,5)
Le programme inclura :
étude de la Parole de Dieu, grâce à des enseignements, des temps de réflexion, de partage et de prière;
des excursions guidées à travers le pays;
des rencontres avec les habitants de cette terre;
La formation s’adresse à toute personne intéressée:
La session se tiendra à Jérusalem dans les 2 maisons de la Congrégation Notre Dame de Sion:
Coût de la session est 2650 €.
Le prix comprend la pension complète, les enseignements, les visites, l’accès internet (WiFi). Ne comprend pas le billet d’avion.
Des arrangements financiers sont possibles.
Plus d’informations et registration :
fr. José LEITE, NDS
Tél: + 33 (0) 1 40 46 08 57
Portable:+ 33 (0) 7 84 54 76 78
The Council of Centers on Jewish-Christian Relations (CCJR) is “an association of centers and institutes in the United States and Canada devoted to enhancing mutual understanding between Jews and Christians” (https://www.ccjr.us/). Celia Deutsch (Brooklyn, N.Y., U.S.A.) attended the annual meeting held in Providence, Rhode Island Nov. 4 and 5, 2018, as a representative of the Sisters of Sion. The Sunday program included a panel discussion of the festschrift in honor of John Pawlikowski, Righting Relations after the Holocaust and Vatican II: Essays in Honor of John Pawlikowski. The keynote speaker was Dr. David Kertzer (Brown University, Providence), who spoke on “The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara: the Continuing Controversy. Monday’s panels focused on perspectives on the Land/State of Israel: in Jewish theology, in Christian theology and in Christian-Jewish Dialogue.
Each year the CCJR gives a Shevet Achim award honoring a person who has made a significant contribution to Jewish-Christian dialogue. At the November meeting, Rabbi Abraham Skorka was honored for his work as a leader in dialogue in Argentina and internationally. Many people recognize him best for his work with Pope Francis, beginning with their collaboration in Buenos Aires Celia was one of those speaking in his honor, and focused on the theme of “dialogue” in Rabbi Skorka’s writing.
The meeting took place only a week after an armed gunman murdered eleven elderly Jews gathered for Shabbat services in Pittsburgh. For all those participating, our gathering was a moment to comfort and support one another, to take courage and recommit ourselves to building paths of justice and peace.
Celia Deutsch, n.d.s., Brooklyn N.Y. (U.S.A.)