Thousands of Parisians joined with Jews from around the world gathered at the Synagogue de la Victoire (Grand Synagogue) on the fourth night of Hanukkah in tribute to the victims of last year’s attacks on the Hyper Cacher and Charlie Hebdo in a concert conveying the spirit of global unity in the face of an ongoing terror threat.
In a solemn moment of sorrow and remembrance, the families who lost loved ones last year were joined by dignitaries from France, Israel and the United States as they recited the traditional Jewish mourning prayer – the Kaddish – for the last time and then lit the candles celebrating the holiday miracle.
The event was organized by the New York-based Nachum Segal Network together with Israel’s Ministry of Diaspora Affairs and the Consistoire de Paris. Entitled “Let There Be Light: The Concert of Jewish Unity”, the event celebrated the lives of Jews living in France, and honored the Jewish communities throughout Europe.
Israel’s Minister of Education and Diaspora Affairs Naftali Bennett greeted the crowd via video saying, “Our responsibility, as Jews, is to choose to take the flame of the Hanukkah candles and shine light throughout the world by continuing to act with pride and courage. Throughout our peoples’ history, we have faced tough times as we do today. But you must always remember that we are one family and when we stand together we can overcome any difficulty that comes our way – Am Yisrael Chai!”
The evening began as the families who lost their loved ones, some of whom returned to Paris for the commemorations from Israel and Tunisia, recited the traditional prayers. But the mood soon took on a more festive tone as famed performers including Yehoram Gaon, OHAD, and Uziah Tzadok delighted the crowd with their latest musical hits and the event became a lively Hanukah celebration.
“It was important to us that our event send a strong message of support to the Jewish communities in France and other areas of the globe,” said Nachum Segal, Founder of the NSN network and host of the popular JM in the AM radio show.
“They need to know that even in the face of an almost constant threat of terror all over the world, their brothers and sisters deeply care about them and are standing right by their side and that when Jews are in challenging situations anywhere the collective Jewish heart aches. This event of Jewish unity brought light and joy to a place where it is needed and ensured that Hanukkah was celebrated in the most festive way possible. It was very special for all of us to honor this vibrant and important Jewish community,” Segal continued.
“I always do my shopping at Hyper Cacher,” said Parisian Elimia Bismuth. “It’s hard and emotional but it’s important for me to return as a Jew. I was one of the first to return. After the recent attacks the government began to fully comprehend the dangers that have long faced the Jewish community.”
Gilles Gade, the CEO of Cross River Bank in New Jersey which co-sponsored the event noted that “Segal’s tremendous sense of responsibility for another Jew in distress, wherever he may be, is something we should all admire and emulate. The event was broadcast live to Jewish communities’ throughout the world.
Nachum Segal, who is widely regarded as one of the world’s preeminent Jewish media personalities, also hosted two of his famous radio shows from Paris to bring the stories of French Jewry to his global audience.