Dance of the Veil: French Jewish Feminist Enters the Académie française

Image: Marie-Lan Nguyen

Back in 2008, the Forward celebrated when French Jewish feminist Simone Veil , an Auschwitz survivor, was elected to the prestigious Académie française.

On Thursday March 18, Veil was formally inducted into the Academy, welcomed with a speech by the veteran author Jean d’Ormesson, who is so stuffy and stately that in France, The Jean D’Ormesson Disco Suicide (a “Southern Rock/Blues/Garage band”) was named in his honor.

d’Ormesson reminded Veil that she now occupies the Academy seat once held by the 17th century playwright Racine, but in her reply, 82-year-old Veil explained that her thoughts are with her mother, “two thirds of a century after her death in the hell of Bergen-Belsen,” and her father, who was “deported and died in the Baltic countries.” Too bad that longtime Academy member Claude Lévi-Strauss , who died last year at age 100, was not there to applaud Veil’s arrival.

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