After Devastating Notre Dame Blaze, Jewish Community Offers Solidarity With France

In the aftermath of a devastating fire that left the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris engulfed in flames, Jewish leaders from around the world have expressed solidarity with the people of France.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin led tributes to the historic monument and said the cathedral “is one of the most beautiful symbols of Paris and of France, and also one of its most important cultural symbols.

“In January,” Rivlin recalled, “I looked over the skyline of the city and the spires of the cathedral made it even more beautiful. Our hearts are with the people of France and the legends of Notre Dame Paris, real and fictional, and we pray it will stand in eternity.”

A colossal fire swept through the famed Notre Dame Cathedral on Monday and left a nation mourning the devastation of its cultural and historic “epicenter.” Around 500 firefighters battled the blaze for nearly five hours. No one was killed, officials said, but a firefighter was seriously injured.

“The worst has been avoided even though the battle is not completely won,” French President Emmanuel Macron said, as he vowed to rebuild the historic landmark.

“We were about to send greetings for a tranquil Easter to our French Catholic members and for Passover to the Jewish community,” said the Director for International Relations of the Wiesenthal Center, Shimon Samuels, in a letter to Macron on Tuesday. “Throughout history, and especially under Nazi occupation and Vichy, synagogues were burned, and cemeteries desecrated. We thus acutely feel the pain of our Christian friends at this time.”

Solidarity was expressed also by the President of CRIF, the umbrella body for French Jewish organizations. “Terrible photos of the cathedral in flames. Our solidarity and thoughts go to France’s Catholic community. Immense sadness as we face this tragedy which this nation is mourning,” Francis Kalifat tweeted.

The cause of the fire was not immediately known, but suspicion focused on the ongoing renovation work.

[Photo: CBS This Morning / YouTube]