French Jews this week commemorated the second anniversary of the Hyper Cacher shooting, remembering the four victims who lost their lives during an al-Qaeda assault on the Paris kosher supermarket.
“I believe that we’ll never forget what happened here. When we cross the threshold, we remember that on that Friday, it could have been us,” Sarah, a shopper at the Hyper Cacher, told Le Figaro ahead of the January 9 anniversary. “My daughter had to go to therapy for a year after the attack. She’s a little better now, but when I come here, she still calls me, to see if I’m okay, to hear that nothing happened. It’s terrifying.”
Marking the anniversary, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, other government officials and survivors of the attack held a ceremony outside the store this week, remembering the four people — Philippe Braham, Yohav Hatab, François Michel Saada and Yohan Cohen — who were murdered by Amedy Coulibaly, who died in the course of his assault. The Hyper Cacher massacre occurred shortly after and was coordinated with the Charlie Hebdo attack, and the two episodes marked a ramping up of terrorist activity in France that continues today.
While French Jews continue to feel a special threat from Islamists, security concerns at the Hyper Cacher have themselves eased, with armed police no longer stationed in front of the shop and a new management team in place. Marc Boutboul, manager at the market, told Le Figaro this was a good development. “Since the police have left, we’re resuming normal life. People think of this store less often as the place where an attack took place.”
Francis Kalifat, head of the French Jewish umbrella organization CRIF, echoed those sentiments, in remarks to Britain’s Jewish Chronicle. The attack, he said, “reinforced the sense of solitude and abandonment” of French Jews. “We had a horrible feeling that we were doomed to live barricaded lives and to make ourselves invisible,” he said.
But as terrorism has rocked France — with a truck attack last summer in Nice and fatal shootings in Paris the November before that — Jews feel less alone in their suffering. “All French people,” he said, “now know that that the whole of France is under attack – its culture, its freedom, its way of life and its vision of the world.”
Daniel J. Solomon is the Assistant to the Editor/News Writer at the Forward. Originally from Queens, he attended Harvard as an undergraduate, where he wrote his senior thesis on French-Jewish intellectual history. He is excited to have returned to New York after his time in Massachusetts. Daniel’s passions include folk music, cycling, and pointed argument.