Dear reader,

They went shopping, presumably to pick up those last-minute supplies before Shabbat: deli meats, gefilte fish or an extra salad dip. Being Jews, they frequented a kosher grocery store, Hyper Cacher, in eastern Paris.

And because they were Jews, they were targeted and murdered.

Yoav Hattab, the 21-year-old son of a rabbi in Tunis, had just returned to Paris to pursue his studies. Murdered in cold blood because he was a Jew.

Yohan Cohen, a 22-year-old worker in the supermarket who bravely attempted to grab the terrorist’s weapon. Shot in the head, his life cruelly cut short because he was a Jew.

Philippe Braham, an observant Jew in his forties and the father of four children who attend a Jewish school in Montrouge, a Paris suburb. Brutally massacred because he was a Jew.

Francois-Michel Saada, a man in his sixties, a husband and a father of two. Heartlessly slaughtered because he was a Jew.

Closely following the murders at the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, the terrorists went after the Jews. At an address to the nation Friday evening, French president François Hollande said the deadly attack in the kosher supermarket was unquestionably “an anti-Semitic attack.”

The latest massacre brings back too many other memories of similar recent bloodbaths, like the one in Mumbai in 2008; Toulouse in 2012; or Har Nof, Jerusalem, in 2014.

Jewish blood. Flowing freely.

An infant in a baby carriage. Fathers wrapped in tefillin. Teenagers heading home at night. Children studying at their Jewish school.

Jewish blood. Flowing freely.

On prayerbooks. On prayer shawls. And on jars of kosher pickles.

And what is our answer?

In this week’s Torah portion, Va’eira, we read of the Jewish people’s heartfelt cries of agony during the brutality of their Egyptian exile, a place where Jewish blood flowed freely, where babies were cemented alive into brick walls and where terror abounded.

How did the Jewish people eventually leave this exile?

By remembering who they were. By remaining separate from their heartless tormentors. By not assimilating. By holding strong to their beliefs and hopes.

In a couple of weeks we will read how the Jewish people jubilantly cross the Red Sea, leaving behind their captors with songs of thanksgiving on their lips. How? By holding on to their faith and customs.

Today, as we cry out in pain and tears together with our brothers and sisters in France, we need to remember: evil will not stop us. The Jewish nation is alive. Am Yisroel Chai.

Today, and every day, we need to remember who we are and why we are. As we go shopping for our Shabbat provisions—or our daily groceries—let us proudly say, JeSuisCacher.

We need to proudly act like Jews. We need to proudly be Jews. JeSuisJuif.

For the victims. For the senseless loss of life. For ourselves. And for a better world.

Chana Weisberg,
Editor, TJW