200 French Jews heed Sharons aliyah call

jerusalem (jps) | A week after Prime Minister Ariel Sharon called on French Jews to immigrate to Israel, a group of 200 is following his suggestion.

After months of preparation, Albert Amanou’s family arrived in Israel on July 28, hoping to begin a new life in Kiryat Malachi. Amanou applauded Sharon’s comments and said the prime minister is welcome at his new home.

“He helped us keep our heads high in turbulent times,” said Amanou, in a phone interview from Paris.

While he appreciated Sharon’s comments, he said France’s rising anti-Semitism was not a big factor in his decision to make aliyah. He said it has never been a problem and he has friends of many ethnic and religious backgrounds. Instead, it is the French government’s passivity toward anti-Semitism that brought him here.

“I’ve had the chance to travel around France. It’s a beautiful country, but there are some things I can’t accept,” he said, referring to violence against Jews and comments belittling the gravity of the Holocaust that are not addressed by authorities.

His decision was also spurred by a desire to raise his children in a Jewish setting, specifically for them to receive a Jewish education. He explained that private school taxes and finding an appropriate school can be cumbersome in Paris.

Alain Beruben, who plans to bring his family to Israel in August, said his children’s Jewish education is his reason for immigrating.

“[Israel] is our country, our land, where we can live our Judaism 100 percent,” he said.