(JTA) — The prime minister of France, speaking at a ceremony to remember four Jewish victims of terror at a kosher supermarket in Paris, said he regrets that large numbers of his country’s Jews have left for Israel.
“France would not be France” without its Jews, Manuel Valls said Saturday evening at the commemoration held outside the Hyper Cacher on the first anniversary of a hostage siege there by an Islamist who was killed that day in a police raid.
Families of the victims and survivors, along with French Jewish leaders, were on hand for the ceremony arranged by the French Jewish umbrella group CRIF.
Valls acknowledged the “immense anguish” of the Jewish community and scolded those who attack it.
“For these enemies who attack their compatriots, who tear apart the contract that unites us, there can be no worthy explanation,” he said.
French immigration to Israel, or aliyah, has rocketed to record levels over the past three years as the country has confronted rising anti-Semitism and a series of attacks that claimed nearly 150 lives in Paris in 2015. Nearly 8,000 French Jews immigrated to Israel in 2015.
“Despite continuing traumatic feelings, life has returned to normal with a renewed sense of fraternity,” Rabbi Haim Korsia, the chief rabbi of France, said at the ceremony.
Also Saturday, French President François Hollande unveiled a plaque in memory of Clarissa Jean-Philippe, a 26-year-old policewoman who was killed by the Hyper Cacher terrorist, Amedy Coulibaly, a day before the supermarket attack in the southern Paris suburb of Montrouge.
On Jan. 5, Hollande unveiled a memorial plaque outside the Hyper Cacher listing the names of those killed at the market on Jan. 9, 2015. He also unveiled a plaque at the offices of the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine with the names of the 12 victims of the terrorist attack there two days earlier. Two brothers who were associates of Coulibaly perpetrated the Charlie Hebdo attack.
A public ceremony is set for Sunday at the Place de la Republique in Paris to remember the attacks as well as the unity march in the city a year ago that drew 1.6 million people along with French and international leaders. An oak tree will be planted during the ceremony.
Also over the weekend, mosques throughout France opened their doors to visitors.