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French Parents Cautiously Send Children Back To Jewish Schools


In the aftermath of the attacks, France is mobilizing ten thousand troops to provide extra security to sensitive sites in the country - train stations, mosques, synagogues. Many are being assigned to protect Jewish schools. Moshe Goldwaser's daughter attends one of those schools now under armed guard, and he joins us now from Paris. And, Mr. Goldwaser, start by telling me what things are like now at your daughter's school.

MOSHE GOLDWASER: Well, there are parts that have not changed, but parts that have changed. There is an increased tension throughout the school. Some parents are very concerned. Some parents just a little concerned. Some parents told their children the whole story, some parents didn't. We chose to tell our daughter everything that did happened as it was happening and she seemed to be handling it extremely well.

CORNISH: How did she respond? What kinds of things did she said to you about it?

GOLDWASER: She asked questions about the bad people. What is happening? Where? I told her. The supermarket that was attacked, we actually frequent it maybe three or four times in the course of a year. So she knew exactly where the place was. We pass by their often. And over the last five days the overall atmosphere around the school, around the streets, it's a little bit reminiscent of after 9/11. People tend to be talking quieter and it's a concern.

CORNISH: Can you tell us more about the reaction from other parents at the school? I don't know how old your daughter is or sort of the age group at the school.

GOLDWASER: She's almost 9.


GOLDWASER: The reaction from some parents who say, well, the security will last for a short time. Other parents were very complementary to the police and the army. Taking our daughter to school and picking her up from school, we thanked the soldiers. And when I asked my daughter are you worried? Do you have nightmares? She says not at all. I say why? She says I feel secure. I feel that my parents protect me, my teachers protect me and police and the army.

CORNISH: What are your concerns for your child growing up in France after this attack?

GOLDWASER: I was asked this question by a number of people over the last few days. And at one point somebody asked me is this the same thing as Germany in the early '30s? And my answer was over here you have a situation where the French government is actively protecting its citizens - Jewish and non-Jewish. So I'm not as concerned. What I'm concerned about the future of Jews in France is not so much security it is a question of assimilation. That's the way I feel.

CORNISH: But can you talk more about that? You said assimilation. I mean, your child will be growing up in France. Why do you think that would be a concern?

GOLDWASER: Look, my concern is as far our assimilation is - it is that we keep a traditional home - traditional Jewish home. And hopefully I will have from her Jewish grandchildren, etcetera, in a country where the emphasis is on lack of religion. And that's a concern to me.

CORNISH: In the end how are you feeling about the response from fellow citizens, from the government?

GOLDWASER: I'm - overall I am pleasantly surprised at the response from the French government. I'm satisfied as of this day. Let's see how it continues.

CORNISH: Well, Moshe Goldwaser, thank you so much for speaking with us and I wish you safety for your family and for your daughter.

GOLDWASER: Thank you so much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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