Two French teenagers walking to synagogue with their grandfather last week to take part in the Shavuot tradition of staying up all night studying Hebrew texts were chased by an axe-wielding man and three accomplices, JTA reports. No one was injured in the incident, which took place in the French suburb of Romainville. The three were wearing yarmulkes, making this the latest in a series of assaults on visibly identifiable Jews across Paris.
The teens, aged 14 and 15, said they were walking to the Lilac Synagogue with their grandfather to attend Tikkun Leil Shavuot, a custom in which Jews study scripture all night. While crossing the town’s Market Square, the two boys and their grandfather, all wearing kippahs, said they were followed by a tall man in his 20s wearing a long beard. They described the man as having an athletic figure and an Arab appearance.
Producing a hatchet, the man began to chase the two boys, according to the BNVCA report, then whistled to three other men who joined the chase. The boys and their grandfather filed complaints with police, BNVCA President Sammy Ghozlan wrote.
The recent report that a whopping 75 percent of French Jews have considered emigrating is contextualized by recent incidents such as this one. Last month, a Jewish woman with a baby was attacked at a Paris bus station by a man who shouted “Dirty Jewess” at her. In March, a Jewish teacher leaving a kosher restaurant in Paris had his nose broken by a group of assailants who also drew a swastika on his chest. One week earlier, an Israeli man was attacked with a stun gun outside a Paris synagogue, and a week before that a 28-year-old Jewish man was beaten on the Paris metro to chants of “Jew, we are going to lay into you, you have no country.” In a chilling video from January, anti-government demonstrators shout “Jew, France is Not Yours” as they march through the streets of Paris.
Stephanie Butnick is chief strategy officer of Tablet Magazine, co-founder of Tablet Studios, and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.