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January 31, 2003 - Image 21

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-01-31

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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JAMES DESIGNS
NEALE STONE

PINE JEWELRY

FRENCH from page 17

firms findings from other reports in
recent years.
Nevertheless, it finally lays to rest what
Saada described as "the 700,000 myth,"
a figure widely quoted in French refer-
ence books as the country's Jewish popu-
lation.
"It's not the number of Jews that mat-
ter," Sdada said. "This study shows we
have a strong and diversified community
but, most importantly, one that is happy
and well-integrated."
This hasn't changed since the survey
was completed, Sa'ada said, despite anti-
Semitic attacks and the strong showing
by far-right candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen
in France's presidential election last year.
"I don't think Le Pen's success reflects
a rise in anti-Semitic feeling among
French people. If anything, a lot of anti-
Semitic statements recently have come
from the far left, from anti-globalization
groups and the like," Sa'ada said.
"A lot of Le Pen's support also came
from people who perceived a rise in
crime, from people who felt insecure in
their homes," he said. The government
has started to do something about that
now, and that feeling of greater security
also exists among French Jews."
Yet the survey clearly shows that
France's Jewish population has fallen by
some 35,000 since 1980, sociologist
Michel Wieviorka said. The drop cannot
be accounted for by aliyah rates in recent
years, Wieviorka wrote in the Jewish
monthly L'Arche. The survey did not
show where the departing Jews went.
The survey's 30 percent intermarriage
rate was up sharply up from a 1988
study carried out by the same groups.
For those younger than 30, the inter-
marriage rate increased to 40 percent,
the survey found.
In addition, the survey confirmed the
marked change in the demographic struc-
ture of the community since World War
II. Around one-quarter of France's Jews
died in the Holocaust. With the influx of
Jews from former French colonies in
North Africa in the 1950s and 1960s, the
community was transformed into a large-
ly Sephardic population.
Some 70 percent of those interviewed
in the survey described themselves as
Sephardic and 24 percent as Ashkenazic.
The numbers from 1988 were 50 per-
cent and 34 percent.
The survey provides valuable informa-
tion for Jewish welfare organizations,
most notably regarding the community's
educational needs. In 1988, the commu-
nity's educational requirements were at
the forefront of the fund's concerns. But
the latest study places in perspective the
huge increase in demand for Jewish
schools. El

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