(JTA) — The chief rabbi of France asked his congregants to recite a special prayer for victims of terrorism during Yom Kippur, which this year falls on the country’s national day of commemoration for them.
Haim Korsia wrote and sent the letter last week to several other rabbis, informing them that this year will be the last that the Sept. 19 National Commemoration for Victims of Terrorism occurs during the Jewish month of Tishrei, in which Jews celebrate the High Holidays and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement for Jews.
But this year, the ceremony collides with Yom Kippur, he wrote, and so “I ask you to hold on Yom Kippur during the Yizkor prayer a special prayer for all the victims of the terrorist attacks that have hit our country for too many years now and to make congregants aware of this,” Korsia wrote. “It is a deeply Jewish way of taking part in the National Commemoration.”
Sept. 19 will be the 20th consecutive National Commemoration for Victims of Terrorism, which several nonprofit organizations started in 1998. The French president attends the event; the government does not organize the ceremony.
The date was selected because it was on Sept. 19, 1989, that terrorists linked to the late dictator of Libya, Muammar Gaddafi, blew up a Paris-bound flight in Africa, killing 170, including 54 French nationals.
Starting in 2019, Korsia said, the commemoration will be held on March 11, the European Remembrance Day for Victims of Terrorism. In 2004 on the date, Madrid train bombings by Muslim extremists killed 193 and injured more than 2,000.
In his letter, Korsia said that moving the commemoration to the European date was part of a comprehensive report commissioned by the government on honoring terrorist victims.
Yom Kippur is recognized as a holiday for Jews on the official French government calendar, meaning major exams and other national activities are not held whenever possible.