French Leaders Point to Community Program 24—Friday, "ma"
By MURRAY ZUCKOFF
JTA News Editor
exponent of Jewish renaissance, pendence from France, the emigra-
found little empathy among native tion of Algerian Jews provided a
NEW YORK (JTA) — In 1971 French Jews. At the same time, new catalyst for Jewisfi conscious-
French Jews displayed a remark- Topiol recalled, the native French ness. The immigration from West-
able degree of self-confidence, Jewish writers and intellectuals ern Europe and North Africa re-
heightened consciousness and in- were viewed as "goyishe Yidden" stored the French Jewish popula-
tensive vigor, unity and dedication by the new arrivals.
tion to its pre-war level.
in terms of aiding Israel, embark-
But the distance between the
The Algerian Jews were French
ing on aliya, strengthening its two Jewish groups dissolved dur- citizens and conversant with
communal activities and partici- ing the occupation of France by
French culture. But also they had
pating in struggles on behalf of Hitler's arm y . "Suddenly we a solid religious education, Topiol
were all Jews in the terrifying said, and view France as their
French Jews contributed some
realization that we all face an- home rather than their exile. A
$10,000,000 for Israel, about 6,000 nihilation. The occupation gave us culture mix occurred, and the
persons went on aliya, more than a common destiny and common Algerian Jews, with their own life
ever filled the synagogues through- consciousness as Jews, but Jews styles and habits, with their need
out the country during the High who were physically united by a for religious schools and syna-
Holy days, and increasing numbers physical danger, but not yet gogues, created a new and stronger
eagerly sought and purchased
spiritually united as Jews. We Jewry.
books written by Israeli and French felt ourselves part of the French
Unlike their earlier immigrants
Jewish intellectuals about life in
nation but not yet Jewish Jews." from Russia and Poland who set-
Israel and in the Diaspora. It was
For a fleeting moment he linger- tled in major cities where Jewish
the year of the self-liberation of ed on his activities in the under- life was already in existence, the
French Jewry and its rededication grcund Committee for Jewish De- Algerian Jews settled in small
to Jewish values.
fense during World War II and the towns and opened synagogues that
Michel Topiol, prominent decimation of half the total pre- had
been closed for as long as 200
French Jewish communal leader, war Jewish population of 500,000. years
and developed a network
businessman and Zionist, re- After the war, Topiol said, the of Jewish
schools and institutions,
counted this development during French Jewish community began Topiol said.
This spread also ex-
an interview here. "The Jewish to rebuild its homes and lives but panded the activities
of the UJA,
community displayed shtolz a new Jewish community develop.. FSJU, CRIF and established
(pride) in being Jewish," he said ed with the influx of Jews from Association of Jews of Algerian
shifting from English to Yiddish DP camps. Later, beginning in Origin (L'Association des Juifs
in order better to articulate the 1956, when Algeria won its inde- d'Origine Algerienne).
nuances of his enthusiasm. "This
-sed on every
level of thinking ?lid action."
Death of French Official Mourned
by Israelis Recalling His Role in '48
The zenith of this pride was ex-
pressed when Soviet Communist
Party Secretary eonid Brezhnev PARIS (JTA)—A French war his wife who had accompanied
visited France and thousands of hero and government official who him to Israel, returned to France
Jews old and young poured out was killed in a recent automobile where he resumed his government
into the streets to proclaim their accident in the south of France career. In 1957 he was sent to the
solidarity with their Russian breth- was identified as a volunteer who Ivory Coast as an adviser to Presi-
ren and to demand of Brezhnev fought for Israel during the 1948 dent Houphouet Boigny and later
The he "Let Our People Go." war for independence and dis- was named a minister in the cabi-
noted. It in tinguished himself as commander net of that African nation.
was the year in which the Jewish of a commando regiment that Difree was prominent in the i
Telegraphic Agency launched its helped , drive the Egyptian army Gaullist party' in southwest France.
out of Ile Negev.
Daily News Bulletin and estab-
He never spoke publicly of his
lished its European Bureau, there- ' Thadee Difree, 60, son of one of experiences in Israel after his re-
by providing the Jewish commun- France's oldest families, joined turn to France in 1949. But Israelis
ity with incisive information about the Gaullist forces in London in regarded him as one of their
its own ongoing activities and those 1940 and eventually won France's staunchest friends.
of World Jewry. hiehest order, "Companion of the
It also was the year in which Liberation." He interrupted a bud-
the -United Jewish Appeal of ding political career in 1948 to
France Appel Juif U n i f i e de volunteer to fight for Israel.
France) headed by Guy de Roths-
Difree was a senior govern-
child, the United Jewish Social ment official in Marseilles when
Service Fund (FSJU) and the Con- he approached a Jewish Agency .
seil Representatif des Israelites de representative and declared, "I
France (CRIF) expended increased want to fight in Israel," circles
funds for education, youth pro- here recalled. He was shipped
grams, local Jewish needs, integra- to Haifa with a boatload of
tion of North African Jews and Polish refugees and enlisted in
the Israel army as private,
The energetic, exhuberant and second class.
articulate co-chairman of the
Col. Itzhak Sadah, then the com-
UJA, European president of the
mander of Palmach, recognized
Confederation of General Zion- his
military abilities and commis-
ists, and member of the JTA sioned
him an officer with the as-
board of directors observed: "If signment
to create a commando
1971 was any indication of what
French Jewry can do, 1972 should regiment of Jewish and non-Jewish
be even better."
Difree's commandos participated
At age 60, Topiol scans the ebb
and flow of the French Jewish con- in the capture of Beersheba from
sciousness and activities and ex- the Egyptians. He set up Israel's
presses unbounded cptimism about first armored unit and saw further
the future role of French Jewry action on the Egyptian front.
When the war ended, Difree, and
as a leading one in the world-wide
Jewish community. His optimism
is based on an objective evaluation
of the French Jewish community Indonesian Jews Face
during the past 40 years, from the Struggle for Survival
time he arrived there from a small
NEW YORK—A small group of
town in Poland and immersed him-
Jews in Surabaya in Eastern Java
self in Zionist organizing.
is living under con-
Topiol recalled the days when
Jewish immigrants from the Pale stant terror from Moslems on the
were regarded as strangers and right and Communists on the left.
interlopers by the native-born
The community faces other
French Jews. "There was a wall problems. They have a small syn-
between us and the French Jews," agogue, but it is housed in a build-
he said. "They didn't accept us ing designed for other uses. Only
and we didn't look to be accepted a small plaque on the outside of -
by them. Our Jewish life was mold- the building identifies it as a syna-
ed by our ghetto existence. This gogue.
wasn't the fault of the French
Shortly after World War II, the
Jews. We simply kept to our own congregation totaled more than 100
organizations, outlook and cul- families. Today it has dwindled
to a half dozen who still manage
The newly arrived immigrants to get a minyan.
spoke Russian and Yiddish. There
The Jews have enjoyed religious
was no cultural or linguistic mix freedom only in the last two years
between the immigrants and the when President Suharto suppressed
French Jews. Yiddish writers like the former communist regime and
Edmond Fleg ,Flegenheimer), the declared religious freedom. • •
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
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