The Jewish World
Aliyah from has doubled in the past 15 years. Results of a recently published survey, "The Jews of France, Values and Identity," reveal that 6 percent said they would make aliyah "very soon" double the percentage of the last survey in 1988. That number was 12 percent among families with school-age children, and 28 percent among families with children attending Jewish schools. These figures were confirmed Jewish Agency data, which showed that aliyah from France doubled in 2002 to more than 2,500. On the other hand, percent of respondents said they had no intention of moving to Israel, up from 40 percent in 2002.
The survey, based on interviews with more than 1,000 heads of households was commissioned by the United Jewish Social Fund, or FSJU and France's United Jewish Appeal. It also revealed an aging population, increasing rates of intermarriage, and declining numbers of French Jews.
Conducted in January 2002, just at the beginning of a wave of attacks on French Jews and community institutions, Jews expressed concerned about their future in France -Nonetheless, while they placed terrorism, anti-Semitism and racism at the top of their concerns, some 90 percent of respondents expressed satisfaction with their lives in France.
While the survey puts the number of Jews at 500,000 - down from the figure of 700,000 widely cited in recent years - "study shows we have a strong and diversified community but, most importantly, one that is happy and well-integrated, " notes FSJU director, David Sa'ada, adding "I don't think Le Pen's success reflects a rise in anti-Semitic feeling among French people. If anything, a lot of anti-Semitic statements recently have come from the far left, from anti-globalization groups and the like," Sa'ada said.
The survey also confirmed a continuing demographic change that began after World War II, with the influx of Jews from North Africa. In conjunction with the destruction of about one-quarter of France's Jews in the Holocaust, the community became predominantly Sephardic. Today 70 percent of those interviewed describing themselves as Sephardic and 24 percent as Ashkenazic .
Another trend reflected by the survey is growing interest in Jewish tradition. This includes a tremendous increase in demand for Jewish education. Today, some 29,000 children go to Jewish schools - almost double the figure in 1988, the date of the last survey together with an increase in religious practice.
In contrast to the right-wing stereotype of French Jews, 48 percent of those surveyed, were in favor of "land for peace in Israel," as opposed to 39 percent against. 13 percent felt they had no right to express an opinion on the subject.