צוות זק"א וארונות הנרצחים
צוות זק"א וארונות הנרצחים צילום: דוברות זק"א

The funerals for the four victims of the Paris terror attack on a kosher supermarket are being held in Jerusalem's Har Hamenuchot cemetery Tuesday, at 12:00 pm IST. 

The families of the victims - Philippe Braham, 40; Yohan Cohen, 22; Yoav Hattab, 21; and Francois-Michel Saada, in his 60s - were brought to Jewish state, along with the bodies, on an El-Al flight Tuesday morning. 

Among the participants at the noon ceremony will be President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Labor leader Yitzhak Herzog, ministers, MKs, Israel's chief rabbis, and other dignitaries. France's Environmental Affairs and Energy Minister, Segolene Royal, also attended.

Hundreds of people have also flocked to the funeral to show their support for the victims and for the French Jewish community. 

Yonatan Saada lit a torch of remembrance at the event, saying his father longed to make aliyah (immigrate) to Israel.

"He was in love with Israel, he wanted to live here," he said, his voice breaking. "He's here now."

Speaking in Hebrew, a bereaved Valerie Braham paid tribute to her husband Philippe. "I am crying but I know that you're all crying with me," she said, at a loss for words to express her grief.

Gary Buchwald, a friend of the Brahams who flew in from Paris with the family, told AFP the impact of the attack was devastating.

"His wife is in pieces. They had to literally carry her to the plane. I am in shock like all of the French community in France," he said. "She won't get over this. It is not three million people marching in the street who will change this reality: other attacks will happen. We only have two choices: either we fight back or we run."

"The grief is profound, the families are broken," top French Jewish official Joel Merghi confirmed to AFP"The Jewish community has survived (other attacks) many times in history but it will be very difficult to recover this time," he said.

Emotional ceremony

Both Binyamin and Sara Netanyahu and Rivlin began the ceremony by moving through the crowd and personally giving condolences to the mourners, including hugs and handshakes. Both look especially stressed, with Netanyahu bearing an expression similar to the nervousness on his face during the solidarity rally in Paris. 

ZAKA volunteers brought the bodies for burial to the podium. 

The Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rishon Lezion, Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, then read out Psalm 130 (Tehilim).

The Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, Rabbi Aryeh Stern, then assisted the heads of the families in the traditional kriya, or tearing, ceremony, whereby the mourner tears his shirt and recites the blessing, "True is the Righteous Judge" (Baruch Dayan Haemet). 

The mourners then said a collective kaddish prayer. 

The Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, Rabbi Shlomo Moshe Amar, then said the "Kel Male Rachamim" prayer. 


The family members then gave eulogies for the victims, accompanied by Jerusalem's mayor, Nir Barkat, and Jewish Agency head Natan Sharansky.

Phillipe Braham's widow Valery broke down in tears during her speech, calling Phillipe "perfect" and noting he lived for his children. She was then hugged by both Netanyahus and Rivlin.

President Reuven Rivlin then began to speak. 

“Dear families, Yoav, Yohan, Philippe, Francois-Michel, this is not how we wanted to welcome you to Israel. This is not how we wanted you to arrive in the Land of Israel, this is not how we wanted to see you come home, to the State of Israel, and to Jerusalem, its capital. We wanted you alive, we wanted for you, life."

Reuven noted that they were killed for being Jews, saying "there is nothing more Jewish than preparing for Shabbat," referring to the attack. 

“At moments such as these, I stand before you, brokenhearted, shaken and in pain, and with me stands an entire nation.”

"The killer made sure to be in a Jewish shop, and only then did he carry out the massacre," Rivlin continued. "This was pure, venomous evil, which stirs the very worst of memories."

"This is sheer hatred of Jews; abhorrent, dark and premeditated, which seeks to strike, wherever there is Jewish life. In Paris, in Jerusalem, in Toulouse, and in Tel Aviv. In Brussels, and in Mumbai. In the streets, and in the synagogues. In the schools, and in the local market. In the train stations, and in the museums." 

Rivlin added that for Jews to be afraid in Europe was "unacceptable," and urged the international community to fight anti-Semitism, saying "ignorance and violence will not simply go away on their own."

Rivlin encouraged French Jews to make Aliyah. "Our land is your land, our homes are your homes," he said. 

"Jewish blood is not worthless," he concluded. "Human blood is not worthless. The earth will not cover the blood, nothing will cure the pain. Here, between Jerusalem’s mountains, upon Har HaMenuchot, we lay to rest our brothers who have come from afar, our brothers, sons of France, but also sons of Jerusalem. May they be of blessed memory."

Netanyahu: terror 'has never, ever beat us'

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu then spoke. 

"The entire nation of Israel and the State of Israel embraces you with love today," Netanyahu stated. "The four wonderful people here, like the Toulouse victims, were killed just because they were Jews. Their lives were cut short in an attack of hatred by a lowly murderer."

Netanyahu said he would not "waste words" on the terrorists, nor on other terrorists in France. 

"I think that most (world leaders) understand - or are at least starting to understand - that this terror committed by extremist Islam represents a clear and present threat to peace in the world in which we live," he said.

"These are not only the enemies of the Jewish people, but against all humanity," he urged. "The time has come to cut off and destroy these enemies from within our midst." 

The Prime Minister then shifted focus to the Jewish people, and to hope. 

"We should focus on the spirit that exists here: You will never, ever beat us," he said. "This is the strength of an ancient people that has always prevailed and thank God, look around you, here in the mountains of Jerusalem, today we have a state of our own, flourishing and advanced, a state that is a moral lighthouse unto the world – and our president was right to say: Jews have a right to live in many countries and have full security, but I believe that they know in their heart, there is one country which is their historic home, a state which will always accept them with open arms."

"This is the hope of the entire Jewish people."

Herzog: we will not let terror win

Labor leader and Opposition leader Yitzhak Herzog then spoke, beginning with the Elokai Netzor prayer, which discusses the soul. 

Herzog then connected the attack to the massacre in Har Nof in November. 

“A straight line connects the murder of the four Jews [in the Paris supermarket] to the bastards who penetrated the Har Nof synagogue and killed people at worship in their prayer shawls two months ago," Herzog said. 

"Terror will not win, we will not let determine our fate," Herzog asserted. "From here, Jerusalem, where Christians, Muslims, and Jews direct their prayers [. . .] we call on world leaders: stop the hatred, stop anti-Semitism, stop violence." 

"This is what brings the Jewish people together: the fact that we are set apart from other nations, the fact we face enemies," he said. 

"We are all together - not only in values, but in the paths of our lives." 

France's Environmental Minister, Segolene Royal, then made several remarks on Paris's behalf, vowing to fight anti-Semitism, which she stated "has no place in France." She awarded every victim a Order of the Legion of Honor and gave medals to each of the victim's families.

After her remarks, the funeral ceremony itself ended with a rendition of "Hatikva," and preparations for the actual burial elsewhere on the grounds began.

Also in attendance were MK and Yachad-Ha'am Itanu leader Eli Yishai, as well as Jewish Home Chairman and Economics Minister Naftali Bennett, Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home), MK Dov Lipman (Yesh Atid), Deputy Religious Affairs Minister MK Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan (Jewish Home), Shas Chairman Aryeh Deri, MK Yoni Chetboun (Ha'am Itanu), Jerusalem Police District Commander Moshe Edri, MK Danny Danon (Likud), and US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro.