Wednesday, October 14, 2015

First Full Day in Paris: Walking tour of the Jewish Quarter

After breakfast Steve and I made our way to the Metro. Thank goodness we had the "intro to the Metro" class with Pierre the night before! A study of the map showed we needed to change stations, which we sucessfully negotiated. 

I noticed right away (and even last night) that, because of my cane, I never saw so many young people jump up to give me a seat in a crowded train, AND give me room to walk on stairs. Very sweet.

We made our way to the Place de Voges and met our guide, Karen. She is the founder of Sight Seekers Delight tour company -- She was AWESOME!! 

She gave us a history of the Plaza and then we started on our walking tour.

I'm not going to give away everything that she told us (which I could), because I think everyone should take this tour. 

She talked about the history of Jews in France. She talked about and walked us around the Jewish Quarter -- where many families still operate small businesses there. 

We were a small group (she tries to keep the group to a maximum of 12-13). As we walked and as she shared, I felt a deeper and deeper connection to the Jews who were hidden, the Jews who died -- especially the children who were taken away to die. There is a placque in every school in Paris with the story of how many children died during WWII. Here is one of the placques. Some where literally only days old.

Paris is a beautiful city, and as many historical cities and countries the history can be mixed when it comes to the care of its citizens -- especially the expulsion of certain groups of citizens -- particularly citizens who practice a particular religion. Karen was balanced in her sharing of history, but it was painful to hear. When I start feeling that level of pain, I end up fighting back tears -- today was no different.

Even though Karen tried to keep the mood light by sprinkling some great Jewish jokes into the mix, it was hard.

We were stopped by an Orthodox Jew who knows Karen (it seemed as though EVERYONE in the Quarter knows Karen). His job is to make sure that all men say their daily prayer. The Jewish man in our group was stopped to do the prayer -- his son, even though he did his Bar Mitzvah, was not allowed because his mother is a convert to Judaism. Karen offered an explanation to us. So the man tied the member of group, and they did the prayer together. 

We headed over to a little synagogue which is a Sephardic synagogue. It, along with the two Yeshivas next to it, were guarded by armed army officers. All the Synagogues and Yeshivas in the neighborhood are guarded post Charlie.

We went in and were delighted to hear more about the history of Jews in France. Again, Karen is a walking history book -- a joy to be around and to listen to, even when the history is hard to hear.

We continued our tour by eating lunch together at the world's best Falafel place! Right in the Jewish Quater. It was packed, and the to-go window had just as long a line (if not longer) as the sit-down line. 

We continued our tour walking to the front of the Holocaust museum. But before then we were taken to a wall -- a wall of honor for those who helped the Jews. The list of names was enormous, including Pastors and nuns. 

Here is a shot of the wall with the list -- It was LONG.

We had a cup of coffee afterwards -- and we said our goodbyes to Karen.

Steve HAD to stop for a sweet at a Jewish bakery. Delicious!

I can't recommend this tour highly enough -- for Christians and Jews, and anyone else interested in hearing and walking through a history in order for us never to repeat it again.

Back to the hotel via the metro, and what little that was left of the afternoon was spent writing a bit and resting.

Can't wait for Karen's Seine tour tomorrow and for the start of the Convention here in Paris.

No comments:

Post a Comment