Canada May Be Better Option Than Israel for French Jews, Says U.S. Rabbi

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French immigrants at Ben-Gurion International Airport in Israel, July 16, 2014.Credit: Ofer Vaknin

French Jews seeking refuge from anti-Semitism may be better off in Canada than Israel, a prominent U.S. rabbi said this week, according to the Toronto Star.

“Many French Jews are leaving for Israel. But others who want out are telling me clearly they want to go elsewhere,” said Shmuel Herzfeld, head of Washington’s Ohev Sholom National Synagogue and founder of the National Capital Jewish Law Center.

“The U.S. should open its doors. But so too should Canada – and French Canada, in particular, which is in many ways a more natural destination and a much more attractive option to many French Jews seeking safety.”

He spoke to the Star a day after the Washington Post published an opinion piece by Herzfeld, in which he called on the United States to open its doors to European Jews.

"When I speak with Jews in France today, I feel the return of a grave danger to Jews that has arisen too often in Europe," he wrote in the Post. "My father ran from the Nazis and, as a toddler, hid in the ditches of the French countryside to escape deportation and almost certain death." He also cited the 2006 murder of Ilan Halimi, the son of Jewish Moroccan immigrants in France.

He also noted that Israel might not be an attractive option because potential immigrants may not know Hebrew, might not want "to move to another place where terrorism is a daily concern," or "are not Zionists at all."

Nearly 7,000 French Jews immigrated to Israel in 2014, an all-time high, according to Jewish Agency For Israel statistics.

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