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12/14/2016 - Negba’s Christian Friends in Nice, France: Lovers of Israel, and of Negba

Some years ago Negba’s founder Claude Meyer (ז''ל) had met with leaders of the Nice Church of the Annunciation. They were moved by Negba’s mission, and decided to organize an annual Israel solidarity event to raise funds for Negba. Claude attended the first two gatherings, but this year, he could not. Yet he was so attached to the gathering that, until his last days, he advised Nicole Cohen, a member of Negba’s French friends and delegate to the event.

The assembly took place last month at the Hotel Boscolo Plaza in Nice, with 300 people in attendance. Pastor Marie Hélène Moulin of the Nice Church of the Annunciation first commemorated the victims of the July 14, 2016 terror attacks in Nice. The interfaith Aviv Ensemble, a cooperative between the choirs of the Maayane Or Synagogue in Nice and the Nice Church of the Annunciation, then sang "La Marseillaise," France’s patriotic anthem to freedom. After a tribute to Shimon Peres by Pastor Marc Ghioldi, the Ensemble rendered a moving version of the "Hatikva."

Rabbi David Touboul of Maayane Or Synagogue, Mrs. Martine Vaknin, Deputy Mayor of Nice, and others offered heartfelt tributes to Claude Meyer, who passed away recently. A short video about Claude and Negba was introduced by Nicole Cohen, after which Frédéric Alargent of the Church of the Annunciation appealed for donations for Negba and in memory of Claude, whom he had met on numerous occasions. Attendees placed notes marked with their pledges in a collection box, which amounted to over double the funds raised at last year’s gathering.

A highlight was an extremely moving address of Raanan Levy, a past adviser to former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who offered a candid portrait of France, with its positive and negative elements. Levy warned against the prejudices too often conveyed by the French media against the right of Israel to live in its land.

Negba is so grateful to Pastors Marie-Hélène and Elisabeth Moulin and Marc Ghioldi for their generosity and love for Israel and Negba. We are deeply touched by their friendship.

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