(JTA) – France’s chief rabbi asked his congregants to recite a special prayer for victims of terrorism during Yom Kippur, which this year falls on the country’s national day of commemoration for them.
Rabbi Haim Korsia wrote and sent the letter last week to several other rabbis, informing them that this year will be the last that the September 19 National Commemoration for Victims of Terrorism occurs during the Jewish month of Tishrei, in which Jews celebrate the High Holidays and Yom Kippur, the Jewish main day of atonement.
But this year, the ceremony does collide with Yom Kippur, he wrote, and so “I ask you to hold on Yom Kippur during the Yizkor prayer a special prayer for all the victims of the terrorist attacks that have hit our country for too many years now and to make congregants aware of this,” Korsia wrote. “It is a deeply Jewish way of taking part in the National Commemoration.”
September 19 will be the 20th consecutive National Commemoration for Victims of Terrorism, an event which several nonprofit organizations started in 1998 and which is attended by the French president. Yom Kippur is recognized as a holiday for Jews in the official French government calendar. This means major exams and other national activities are not held on Yom Kippur whenever possible. However, the government is not the organizer of the event honoring terror victims.
This date was selected because that was the day that in 1989, terrorists linked to the late dictator of Libya, Muammar Gaddafi, blew up a Paris-bound flight in Africa, killing 170 people, including 54 French nationals.
From 2019 onward, according to Korsia, the commemoration will be held on March 11, the European Remembrance Day for Victims of Terrorism. It is held on that date in commemoration of the 2004 Madrid train bombings by Muslim extremists, in which 193 died and more than 2,000 were injured.
In his letter, Korsia said that moving the commemoration to the European date was part of a comprehensive report commissioned by the government on honoring terrorist victims.