JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israeli leaders marked the first year since an attack on a Jewish school in France that killed a rabbi and three children.
Natan Sharansky, the head of the Jewish Agency for Israel, met Sunday in Jerusalem with the parents of Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, who was killed in the attack on the Ozar Hatorah Jewish school (now Ohr Torah) in Toulouse along with his two young sons.
Miriam Monsonego, the 8-year-old daughter of the school’s principal, also was killed in the attack by French-Algerian Islamist Mohamed Merah, who days earlier had killed three French soldiers.
Samuel and Miriam Sandler were in Israel to attend a one-year anniversary memorial of the death of their son and grandsons.
Sharansky told the couple that the Jewish Agency established a fund to help upgrade security in small Jewish communities that has provided assistance to more than 20 Jewish communities around the world.
“We cannot bring back your family, but we must learn a serious lesson from the attack,” he said.
“The dignity with which your family has faced this awful tragedy has given great strength to Jews around the world and deserves great appreciation from all of us.”
The family has published a book of their son’s writings on the weekly Torah portion and established Beit Sandler, a synagogue in the Kiryat Hayovel neighborhood of Jerusalem. The construction of a kindergarten in Sandler’s memory also is planned.
Israeli President Shimon Peres on Sunday met in France with the heads of the Jewish community of France and with a delegation of imams and the heads of the Egyptian, African, Moroccan and Senegalese communities, as well as the leaders of central mosques.
The meetings came a day before official memorial events in France to mark one year since the terror attacks.
"We Muslims are victims like the Jews, of the same extremist who went on a journey of murder, who took the lives of children," Imam Chalghoumi, head of the Conference of Imams in France, told Peres. "We are here to say to our brothers the Jews and the French: We are all threatened by terror, hurt by terror and we all call with optimism for peace at the end of this terrible year. We teach the believers that human life is holier than the holy sites! Holier than Mecca, the Vatican or Jerusalem."
During his meeting with French Jewish community leaders, Peres learned how the Jewish community has been coping since the murders, and discussed the increase in anti-Semitic incidents in France.