Shooting stuns Toulouse chief rabbi, Jewish groups (JERUSALEM POST) By GIL SHEFLER 03/20/12)
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Jewish groups around the world expressed outrage while the chief
rabbi of the southern French city of Toulouse, Rabbi Avraham Weill,
was at a loss for words on Monday after news broke that four people –
a teacher, his two children and another child – were shot dead by an
unknown gunman outside a local Jewish school.
“It’s difficult to express what we’re going through,” said the
religious leader over the phone from France. “I know the dead and
Weill, who became chief rabbi almost two years ago, said he was
informed of what had happened just as he was leaving his synagogue.
He said he was told the assailant opened fire from his scooter before
fleeing the scene and did not enter the school, as some reports
“We are in a state of misery today,” the 29-year-old rabbi said.
There are about 20,000 Jews in Toulouse and some 600 Jewish children
attend Ozar Hatorah, the school where the attack occurred, Weill said.
While there have been small anti-Semitic incidents in the past, the
rabbi said there was no reason to suspect an attack of such magnitude.
“There was no phone call, no warning that this might happen,” he said.
Weill said his top priority now was to help the families of the
victims and prepare the bodies of the dead for burial.
“I am fully committed to helping the community and assisting in any
way the widow of the man who died,” he said.
The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), a Jewish
relief group, said it was “horrified and outraged by today’s barbaric
attack at the Ozar Hatorah school in Toulouse.”
In a joint statement, JDC president Penny Blumenstein, CEO Steven
Schwager, and Europe director Alberto Senderey said the group “mourns
the loss of these innocent lives and stands together, at this time of
sorrow, with the entire French Jewish community. We hope and pray
that the perpetrators will be swiftly apprehended and brought to
The American Jewish Committee said its prayers went out to the
grieving community and wished those wounded in the attack a quick
“This is a brazen assault on France and French society, and another
telling reminder of the dangers that exist for Jewish communities in
today’s world,” said AJC executive director David Harris.
The World Jewish Congress said the fact that the unknown assailant,
who escaped the scene of the crime on a scooter and is still at
large, picked a school as his target was particularly deplorable.
“Today, Jews everywhere in the world are weeping in sorrow and
disgust in the face of this despicable terrorist attack,” said WJC
president Ronald Lauder. “Targeting children is a particularly sick
and vile act, and nothing can justify it. This attack is an attack on
all of us.”
The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), the umbrella group
for Jewish fundraisers across the continent, expressed its solidarity
with its Jewish brethren across the Atlantic.
“Words cannot describe the shock and outrage – and deep mourning –
that result from a terror attack that is specifically directed at
children,” said JFNA’s CEO and president, Jerry Silverman.
“We have long known that Jews can be targets of vicious attacks
wherever they are in the world. And it is clear that even today, in
2012, that statement remains true. Jewish federations stand with the
Jews of France at this time of sorrow.”
The security arm of the US Jewish federations asked Jewish officials
to remain vigilant in the wake of the deadly shooting, citing the
possibility of copycat attacks.
“While this event initially appears to be localized, we are always
concerned about the possibility of copycat attacks,” a spokesman for
the Secure Community Network, the Jewish Federations of North
America’s security initiative, told JTA. “We’ve been in contact with
our European partners and are continuing to monitor the situation.”
(© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 03/20/12)
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