France may be a country with Catholic roots but that doesn’t mean you can’t find Jews there. While my Jewish practice may have declined over the last number of years, I still love Chanukah. Contrary to popular belief, its not just a Jewish Christmas. Its a holiday based on hope and miracles.
After missing the first five nights to studying, Barcelona and life with a Catholic family, I met my friend Chagall at Place de la Sorbonne for a public allumage (Menorah lighting) put on by the local Chabad (I believe). Chagall and my story is one of those great small world occurrences we were on the same trip to Israel four and a half years ago, despite her French heritage on an American trip and have rekindled the friendship (fitting metaphor for Chanukah) now that we’re both in Paris.
At the allumage I got to meet a number of French Jewish college students (more French friends, and be back in a Jewish community. Its a strength that you can feel anywhere. Chagall then invited my friend Aaron and I to her house for dinner, where we lit the candles again and had dinner. Her mom was just like any Jewish mom I’ve ever met, so caring and hospitable. She even gave Aaron and I Chanukah gifts! All and all, it was a great Chanukah adventure in Paris!