Thousands of Jews across France will observe a ‘Hyper Sabbath’ this weekend to commemorate the victims of last month’s Hyper Cacher shootings.
Kevin Hagege, the CEO of a Jewish organisation that promotes the spread of the Torah, said: ‘For Charlie Hebdo, everyone bought a copy of their newspaper. For Hyper Cacher, the Jewish community will observe a Hyper Sabbath.’
The commemoration comes as France continues to maintain heightened security at Jewish schools and places of worship following the killings of Phillippe Braham, Yohan Cohen, Yoav Hattab and Francois-Michel Saada by Islamic extremist Amédy Coulibaly at the Jewish Hyper Cacher supermarket in Porte de Vincennes in January.
The idea of a ‘Hyper Sabbath’ was inspired by Hattab’s final text message, sent just before the attack, which encouraged a friend to observe the Sabbath as much as possible.
The Grand Rabbi of Jerusalem, Shlomo Amar, and the President of the Israeli Council of Paris, Joel Mergui, have called on Jews worldwide to observe this ‘Hyper Sabbath’.
In an open communiqué, Mergui said he had been ‘literally stunned’ by Hattab’s final text and that the Jewish community needed to ‘respect the testament of this young murdered Jew’ and to ‘honour the memory of the four Jews murdered because they were preparing for the Sabbath.’
Hagege said: ‘The victims at Hyper Cacher died whilst doing their shopping for the Sabbath. They respected the Sabbath and through this commemoration we will pay them homage.’
‘The 6th and 7th of February mark one month since the attacks and this is when we say a special prayer for the deceased. Certain people are going to be observing the Sabbath for the first time in their lives.’
The Sabbath, a day of rest when Jews are forbidden from performing manual work, begins on Friday evening and lasts until Saturday evening. Observance of the Sabbath is proscribed by the Ten Commandments in the Jewish faith and also involves the lighting of candles and reading passages from the Torah.
In addition to maintaining heightened security, French President Francois Hollande recently declared measures cracking down on anti-semitism. Speaking at the Holocaust Memorial in Paris last week on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, he announced that anti-semitism and racism would henceforth be considered aggravating features of a crime.
In a message of solidarity, he said: ‘You, French Jews, your place is here in France. Our country would not be the same if we had to live without you.’
He also noted the findings of a recently published report by the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions, which showed that the number of anti-Semitic attacks in France had more than doubled from 423 in 2013 to 851 in 2014.