Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, on Friday evening held a surprise visit to the synagogue in Strasbourg, France.
The Prime Minister spoke with the rabbi of the synagogue about the Jewish community in Strasbourg and met with the worshipers.
Netanyahu and his wife were in Strasbourg to attend the funeral of former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl. Because of the sanctity of the Sabbath, Netanyahu and his wife walked from the hotel to the European Parliament building, where the funeral took place. The Prime Minister was even invited to speak at the funeral but declined the invitation because of the Sabbath.
"I came here to honor the memory of a great friend of the State of Israel, Helmut Kohl, here in the European Parliament, but of course there is no visit without also meeting the Jewish community, and I am happy to see here that you are observing the tradition of the people of Israel," Netanyahu told the worshipers.
"There are two components to Jewish existence. One - preserving our heritage, and two - ensuring our future in the State of Israel, which is the key to the existence of the Diaspora. Protecting the heritage of Israel is something you do here and we do in our home,” he added.
"I was recently in China, at the invitation of the Chinese president. You know, India, China and Israel together make up about a third of humanity. We will soon pass 1.4 billion people. And I said in China – we now number more than eight million, and [the Chinese president] told me - but you're a world power in technology and innovation,” continued Netanyahu.
"The people of Israel, the State of Israel, represent a very special thing in the history of nations. It is a tree with deep roots in our land, in our heritage. But at the same time it also sends branches upwards, of innovation, of development, for our people as well as for all of humanity.”
Netanyahu concluded his speech to the Jewish community and said, "These are the two components of our future, of our people. But since we observe the Jewish tradition we must get back to the hotel before Shabbat. And therefore I say goodbye to you with the blessing of Shabbat Shalom and Am Yisrael Chai."