From Shoah To Jihad, Some French Jews Still Choose To Hide

MONTPELLIER — We aren’t in a “sensitive urban area,” nor in Ramallah, Cairo, Tehran, or even a ghetto in the Parisian suburbs. We are not living in the early 20th century. Instead, we are here with a quiet middle-class family living in the center of Montpellier, a dynamic and well-off city in southern France.

There’s Rose, 82, the grandmother. Her daughter Valérie, 52. And Valérie’s daughters Lila and Laura, respectively aged 17 and 10. Only Rose is willing to use her real name. “Since I’ll soon be gone, it doesn’t matter anymore,” she says. The others prefer to use pseudonyms.

Rose and Valérie are sitting together on the couch. “I find you say too often that you’re Jewish,” Rose says. “It’s like you’re wearing it as a banner.”

“What are you going on about?” Valérie replies. “Of course not, mom. I only say it when the occasion arises, that’s all.”

“If you see a lot of people, you should be careful,” Rose warns.

On a different day, Valérie and her daughter Laura are in a cafe after school. Laura is very talkative.

“In class, the teacher asked who was a Muslim,” she tells her mom. “About 10 people raised their hands. After that, he asked who was Catholic, and one raised her hand. You know, the girl from Guatemala. And after that, the Muslims explained their rituals.”

“That’s all? He didn’t ask who was Jewish?” Valérie asks.

“Well, no. He’s very respectful. He’s not going to ask who’s Jewish.”