BY AMANDA SOTO
Today we walked around an interesting part of Paris today called Le Marais. It is an area where the Jewish community and the gay community co-exist.
We tried to get a taste (literally) of the culture by eating some Israeli street food. I had a poulet (chicken) curry pita—a delicious little pita with chicken, radishes, lettuce, eggplant, carrots, cucumber, hummus and dressing on it. The pita was like a bowl, and I ate it with a fork while standing under an awning watching the rain fall. Dr. Bill bought us some Jewish pastries to try, and we each had a bite and picked our favorites.
The most surprising part of the whole experience was walking into a Jewish center that had small memoir plaques hanging from the chandeliers and on the walls. Each was the name of a person who had died in Israel.
We exited and met up with a traveling rabbi from Israel who answered some questions about how the Jewish community feels about the gay community. He said that in Israel people are gay, but they keep it a secret because many families think of it as shameful. Gesturing “zipping of the lips,” he said it’s fairly common to know a gay person, though. In Tel Aviv he said the gay community is more open about being out.
We also went to the Shoah Memorial, a museum dedicated to the French Jews killed in the Holocaust. We saw the crypt, a large stone room with a black-marble star of David in the center. The star of David is filled with ashes collected from several of the concentration camps where French Jews died. The room gave me chills. It also made me hope that a religious conflict would never get to that magnitude again.