Page 41 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 41

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ROGER S. KOHN
wish Publishing in France
R
A LARGE
and cultivated audience in the United States, France
mains a country o f cultured excellence. This em inence is
pressed through famous Parisian designers and brands o f p e r ­
me. Cooking tastes better when it is called “cuisine.” T he num ­
er o f French restauran ts in Manhattan has mushroomed du r ing
e last ten years. So much for stereotypes.
On the news fron t, France appears as a country crying black
hen Washington says white. De Gaulle’s legacy o f stubborn
dependence from the Western Alliance remains even after the
ange o f regime in 1981. T he positions o f Paris and Washington
European military strategy and o the r foreign policies conflict,
hether Gaullist o r Socialists rule.
Anti-Semitic outbursts also endure . When bombs exploded in
aris’s rue Copernic synagogue in 1980 and more recently at
oldenberg’s restau ran t, news media focused on anti-Semitic
ends in France, rarely on the French Jewish community itself.
In fact, the French Jewish community is the fou rth largest Jew ­
h community in the world, after the USA, Israel and the Soviet
nion, numbering about 700,000 individuals. Large cities like
ris, Lyons, Marseilles and Strasbourg are the major Jewish
nters, but the patterns o f French Jewish life are set in Paris. The
ajor cultural, religious and Zionist organizations are all based in
ance’s capital. These bodies centralize, and try to dictate, Jew ­
life in France, and they reflect the French inclination towards
ntralization.
French Jewry was the first fully emancipated Jewry, having
ceived full political rights du ring the French Revolution. In the
th century, Jews in France acculturated rapidly to the French
ciety. Even the Dreyfus Affair did not radically alter this trend
mild assimilation. A fter World War II, the French Jewish com­
unity recovered slowly, bu t not fully.
Acculturation and acceptance o f French patterns have been
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