Earlier this week, Kati Marton wrote about Paris’s black marble plaques and the subject of race in France. Her blog posts are featured on The Arty Semite courtesy of the Jewish Book Council and My Jewish Learning’s Author Blog Series. For more information on the series, please visit:
Now that I live part-time in Paris, I explore the city’s complex and sometimes disturbing relationship to toward its Jewish citizens — which, given my own Jewish heritage, feels personal to me. In “Paris: A Love Story” I probe this aspect of the city which most tourists miss.
One morning as I continue my Parisian ramble, I enter a hyperrefined Proustian world furnished with the carpets, tapestries and bibelots of the reigns of Louis XV and XVI. I picture glittering soirees in the dining room where the table is permanently set — as if awaiting Proust, Herzl and the other great figures of the day. It is hard to conjure a more quintessentially French décor than this ode to the 18th century, the Age of Reason. But the host and his children and grandchildren are missing. The patriarch, Moïse de Camondo, built this temple to French civilization and left precise instructions that it would all remain untouched, as they left it — the Jewish Camondos’ gift to the French nation. Moïses’s son Nissim, after whom he named his museum, gave his life for France. His plane went down in flames during World War I, when he was shot photographing German military installations from the air.