Last week, the four Jews killed at the Hyper Casher supermarket in Paris were laid to rest in Jerusalem’s Har ha-Menuhot cemetery. The funeral for Yohan Cohen, Philippe Braham, François-Michel Saada and Yoav Hattab was attended by thousands, including many dignitaries from Israel’s various political parties, several of whom addressed the assembled mourners. Naturally, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s eulogy received much of the media coverage. But perhaps the most powerful speech was delivered by President Reuven Rivlin, who offered a stirring encomium to Jewish solidarity, and promised that Israel would fight for Jews and their rights wherever they might be found.
In recent days, some Israeli politicians have called for French Jews to simply leave Europe, often giving short shrift to their deep patriotism and commitment to their home countries. At the funeral, Rivlin gave voice to a different formulation of the Zionist ethos. “My dear brothers and sisters, Jewish citizens of France, you are welcome,” he said. “Our land is your land, our home is your home, and we yearn to see you settle in Zion. However, returning to your ancestral home need not be due to distress, out of desperation, because of destruction, or in the throes of terror and fear. Terror has never defeated us, and we do not want terror to defeat you. The Land of Israel is the land of choice. We want you to choose it out of love.”
“Dear families, aside the graves of your loved ones, we promise that we will continue to fight for your right to live as Jews, wherever you may be,” he continued. “We will continue to fight for your right to proudly open synagogues, to educate your children in the study of Torah, in a love for Israel, and in tikkun olam.”
Watch excerpts of the eulogy, with English subtitles, below:
The full text of Rivlin’s eulogy can found here.