Four people—a teacher from Israel, his two young sons, and another student—have been killed in a deadly shooting attack at the Ozar Hatorah Jewish school in Toulouse in southern France. Eyewitnesses said a lone gunman drove up to the school on a motorbike around 8 a.m. local time, as the students were arriving for the school day, and opened fire using two firearms. According to the local prosecutor, the shooter fired at “everything that appeared in his way” and chased students as they fled into the school. He then fled the scene.
The victims have been named as thirty-year-old Rabbi Yonatan Sandler of Jerusalem, his two young sons Aryeh (six years old) and Gavriel (three and a half), and eight-year-old Miriam Monsonego, the daughter of the school principal. The Sandler family was in the midst of a two-year shlichut in Toulouse, where Rabbi Sandler, a graduate of the Jewish Agency's Israel education programs, taught Jewish studies. The Sandlers are survived by their mother and a four-year-old sister.
In the wake of the tragedy, the Forum for Emergency Assistance to Jewish Communities of the Government of Israel and the Jewish Agency convened in Jerusalem to be briefed on the situation and to make recommendations on emergency assistance to the Jewish community of Toulouse. This is against the background of recent months, including the terror attacks in Georgia and India and several occasions where authorities in several countries have prevented terror attacks planned against Jewish and Israeli targets.
The Forum, headed by Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky and Minister for Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Yuli Edelstein, will be closely following the situation in France and in other Jewish communities around the world, and has already reached out to the Toulouse Jewish community to offer help in this difficult time.
Ariel Kandel, who heads the Jewish Agency delegation in France, noted on Monday that the Toulouse Jewish community is still in shock, and community leaders have yet to complete an assessment of the community's immediate needs. Meanwhile, the Jewish Agency has prepared educators and psychologists who stand ready to help the students, teachers, and family members grapple with the tragedy. Jewish Agency shlicha Keren Zenou, whose parents made aliyah to Israel from Toulouse, was visiting the city in order to interview families interested in making aliyah at the time of the attack. She remains in the city at this time and is offering support to the families of the victims and the broader Jewish community.
We want to note with gratitude the statement of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who called the attack “an abominable tragedy and a frightening tragedy” and announced that schools across France would hold a moment of silence on Tuesday in memory of the victims. Sarkozy was accompanied in Toulouse by Richard Prasquier, president of the Jewish communal umbrella CRIF, and French education minister Luc Chatel.
Haviv Rettig Gur
Director of Communications
Jewish Agency for Israel
The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), along with The Jewish Federation of San Diego County, is shocked and outraged at today's tragic terror attack on a Jewish school in southern France that has left at least four dead, including three children.
|Image via Rt.com|
Kathy Manning, Chair of JFNA's Board of Trustees stated, "We at Jewish Federations are devastated by the terrible news of an attack on Jewish school children in France. We send our deep and heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims, while wishing a speedy recovery to the injured. At the same time, we embrace the entire Jewish community of France and stand with them at this very difficult and tragic time."
Jewish communities across the globe are stepping up their security procedures. In Israel, a Knesset committee that has responsibility for international Jewish communities will meet in emergency session Tuesday, and representatives of the Jewish Federation movement will be present.
"Words cannot describe the shock and outrage -- and deep mourning -- that result from a terror attack that is specifically directed at children," said JFNA's CEO and president, Jerry Silverman. "We have long known that Jews can be targets of vicious attacks wherever they are in the world. And it is clear, that even today, in 2012, that statement remains true. Jewish Federations stand with the Jews of France at this time of sorrow."
JFNA will continue to monitor the situation closely with the Federation movement's two main overseas agencies, the Jewish Agency and Joint Distribution Committee, both of which are active in France. Secure Community Network, a US-based security agency that works with Jewish Federations, also will monitor the situation.
- Linda Feldman, Director, JCRC