The visit comes at a time when French Jews are experiencing an increase in anti-Semitic violence.
Video courtesy of jn1.tv
It was a mission born out of concern over the security of French Jews.
France was the scene for the murder of three Jewish schoolchildren last year and is home to the world’s third largest Jewish population. As a result, it was a likely choice for leaders of the American Jewish community.
The trip to France is part of the Conference of Presidents’ annual mission to Israel. US leaders met with President François Hollande and other top government officials, as well as heads of religious communities.
Delegates described their gratitude towards the Great Mosque of Paris, which helped save the lives of more than 15,000 Jews during the Holocaust, proving that the two communities can live together in peace.
A veteran activist for interfaith dialogue, Imam Hassen Chalghoumi, said the history of the Holocaust was as much the history of Muslims.
Many praised Chalghoumi for his bravery in denouncing anti-Semitism, an action which has earned him round-the-clock police protection. However, most agreed that the risks of inaction against extremism were even far more dangerous.
America’s Jewry came to France seeking reassurance about the security of French Jews, and they didn’t leave empty-handed. With a message of peace and unity, government officials and Muslim leaders succeeded in dispelling their fears about rising anti-Semitism.