Paris suburb opens Jewish community center to cater to new arrivals


(JTA) — As Parisian Jews flock to the city’s western parts, a new suburban Jewish community center and synagogue was inaugurated in that part of the metropolis.

In addition to an Orthodox synagogue with 200 seats, the new center inaugurated on June 2 has four classes for studying and a gaming space with a ping-pong and a foosball table. It has a floor space of 9,150 square feet, featuring a yard.

The Jews of Courbevoie, many of them working in the La Defense office and industrial district in western Paris, have made use of the synagogue in La Garenne-Colombes and the one in Neuilly-sur-Seine.

But those synagogues “became crowded” as more and more Parisian Jews left other parts for the capital for Courbevoie and other parts of the relatively-affluent western suburbs, the Consistoire, an organization providing spiritual services for French Jews, wrote in a statement. Plans for a new synagogue in Courbevoie began 15 years ago, it said.

The displacement of Jews to the relatively-affluent and safe western parts of Paris is known locally as “internal aliyah,” invoking the Hebrew-language word for moving to Israel. Rooted in the upward social mobility of Jewish families that moved to France from North Africa from the 1950s onwards, internal aliyah has received a boost following the increase in anti-Semitism in the immigrant neighborhoods where those Jewish families first settled.

Crime-stricken and heavily-Muslim suburbs like Saint-Denis, La Courneuve and Aubervilliers in the Paris metropolis’ north have seen their once-significant Jewish populations dwindle dramatically after 2000, when violent anti-Semitism increased throughout France, often in connection with the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

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