(General view of school sign outside the Ozar Hatorah Jewish school after shooting in Toulouse, southwestern France, March 19, 2012. REUTERS/Jean-Philippe Arles)

Rabbi Jean-Paul Amoyelle, head of the Ozar Hatorah network of Jewish schools in France, was woken at 4 a.m. during a visit to New York with chilling news. Jewish schools and synagogues in France had been targeted in a string of attacks in the past decade, many of them arson, but this was different. A gunman had shot dead three children and a 30-year-old Hebrew teacher at his school in Toulouse, one of 20 in France with roots in the diaspora of Middle Eastern Jewry.

The shooting marks a tragic turn for Ozar Hatorah, which was created in the wake of the Holocaust in the mid-1940s by a Syrian-born Jew intent on improving the lot of Jewish communities in the Middle East and North Africa. In 2001 a classroom was burned down at a “Ozar Hatorah”, or “Treasure of the Torah”, school in the Paris suburb of Creteil, but the perpetrator turned out to be a pupil.

Amoyelle said Monday’s attack was a sign of growing danger.

“This was deliberate. Anti-semitic and deliberate, I have no doubt,” Amoyelle said by telephone as he was due to return to France. “I plan to install a zone of reinforced security.”

Read the full story by Lionel Laurent here.
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