(JNS) French President Emmanuel Macron and leaders of the country’s Jewish community celebrated the inauguration a $17 million Jewish community center in Paris on Tuesday, Oct. 29. The European Center for Judaism was opened “amid painful times of terrorism and antisemitism,” said Joel Mergui, president of the Consistoire organization, which is responsible for Orthodox life in France. “It’s an expression of resistance – a desire to reanimate our community, for it to shine and open to the neighborhood, Paris and Europe.”
The new center in Jerusalem Square, in the heavily Jewish-populated 17th arrondissement (district) in Paris, has about 54,000 square feet of floor space, and includes a synagogue and auditorium, each with 600 seats. The center also has a gym, offices and a large terrace to accommodate a sukkah, among other features.
About one-third of the center’s cost came from private donations, while the rest were a result of municipal and government subsidies and sponsorships by firms and nonprofit groups. The city of Paris gave the piece of land to the Jewish community for the project more than 20 years ago, though construction for the center only began in 2015. It was initially supposed to be completed by the end of 2018.
At least 37,000 of the approximately 173,000 people living in Paris’s 17th arrondissement are Jewish.