L.A.’s French Jews react to Toulouse killings


French Jews in Southern California reacted with sadness and disgust, but not surprise, to the shooting at a Jewish school in Toulouse, France, that left three children and one teacher dead.

“In France you are scared – you cannot even wear a kippah on the street,” said Francky Perez, who moved with his wife from Paris to Los Angeles three years ago to allow their children, now 6 and 7, to express their Judaism in a safe environment. “Even if what happened in Toulouse turns out not to be anti-Semitism, you cannot pretend that hate doesn’t exist in France. It’s a reality.”

At press time Tuesday, the gunman remained at large. On Monday, a man on a motorcycle opened fire as students and parents were entering Ozar Hatorah at the start of the day, then chased students into the school as he continued shooting. Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, 30, and his two sons, Gavriel, 3, and Aryeh, 6, were killed. The school’s principal, Rabbi Yaacov Monsonego, saw his 7-year-old daughter Miriam killed in front of him. A 17-year-old boy is in critical condition.

The area in southwestern France remains under heavy security.

“We’re all absolutely shocked. A tragedy like this shows the worst of human nature, if we can still talk about human nature in this case,” said David Martinon, France’s consul general in Los Angeles.

French investigators have linked the shooting at the 200-student school to two shootings in the area last week that killed three soldiers and left another critically injured. The soldiers were of North African and Caribbean descent.

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