Columbia University history professor Simon Schama stood at the podium in the Center for Jewish History's auditorium Sunday night relating how the desecration of hundreds of Jewish graves in England last week had affected him personally.
"The headstones of my uncle and great-aunt were turned over," when 386 Jewish graves were damaged in East London, he said.
Thus began a three-day international conference in New York on the rise of global anti-Semitism.
His given name is Aaron, the same as the first High Priest of the Children of Israel. He wears garments similar to those worn more than 2,000 years ago by the kohanim (Jewish priests) in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.
But this Aaron, the son of Jewish immigrants from Poland whose mother died in Auschwitz, is a priest of a different kind. Having converted to Catholicism at the age of 15, he has risen to become Archbishop of Paris.
Although he lives in a borough with a sizeable Muslim population and leads a congregation of Bukharian Jews, a community that hails from a mostly Muslim region of the former Soviet Union, Rabbi Shlomo Nisanov says that, until Sunday, he never visited a mosque.
Moreover, his congregants expressed concern for his safety when they learned he would make the visit, says the rabbi, who leads Kehilat Sephardim of Ahavat Achim, a synagogue in Kew Gardens Hills.
Despite the 1,800 miles that separate Paris from Tel Aviv, Jews in France say they face ongoing repercussions from the ongoing Middle Eastern tensions. And it’s not only from the country’s large Arab population but perhaps even more so from na
Paris — Nestled among Parisian gefilte fish proprietors, pickled herring vendors and boulangeries stocked with chocolate rugelach, an Israeli restaurateur yanks otherwise oblivious customers into his teeming falafel palace while Chabad boys sell palm fronds for Sukkot across the cobblestone Rue des Rosiers.
In the Marais, the traditional Jewish quarter of the French capital, neon leaflets advertise Hebrew classes and nearly every shop window has a stamp of approval from the Beth Din of Paris.
Clichy-sous-Bois, France: A rabbi is stabbed in nearby Paris and Jack Bouccara thinks about the safety of his own congregation's rabbi.
A car explodes near a Jewish school in Paris and Bouccara worries about his synagogue, a three-minute walk from his home.
French President Jacques Chirac announces that 700 French synagogues and other Jewish sites will need police protection if the American war against Iraq breaks out, and Bouccara fears that his synagogue might come under attack.
Paris: On a pair of aisle seats in the ornate ballroom of City Hall here, with a white-haired cantor intoning in the background and an Israeli flag hanging on the front stage next to the colors of France, Sylvain and Ninette Smadja talked about life for Parisian Jews in recent weeks.
In England, a prominent politician with a reputation as an anti-Semite is defeated in a re-election bid.
In France, three policemen shout anti-Semitic slogans and make the Nazi salute in a bar.
In the United States, a leading spokesman for European Jewry brings a cautionary message about the “current state of anti-Semitism” on the European continent.
Ten months after her son was kidnapped and tortured to death by young Muslim gang members in Paris (after her son became a symbol of anti-Semitic violence, and she began making public speeches about the type of hatred that took her son's life) Ruth Halimi brought her message of tolerance to New York City.
"Ilan's tragedy was a humanitarian tragedy," not just a Jewish tragedy, Ruth Halimi told a lunch reception last week at the Anti-Defamation League headquarters in Midtown, her first appearance here.
A man who likes extinct languages, Mel Gibson had a chance to practice his Latin this summer — he made several mea culpas.
Following his drunken, sexist, profane, anti-Semitic tirade in Malibu in July, the actor-director apologized to the police officers who arrested him. He apologized in a general public statement for saying “despicable” things. He apologized “specifically to everyone in the Jewish community,” to “those who have been hurt and offended by those words.”
For a forthcoming television documentary and DVD about contemporary anti-Semitism, New York producer Andrew Goldberg interviewed academicians, theologians and journalists on four continents. Many of the experts were Arabs and Muslims in the Middle East, because, as the documentary shows, that region is the source of most anti-Semitism today.
For another, less-intellectual, perspective, Goldberg also wanted a look at public opinion, the “Arab street.” So he went to an Arab street.