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Whoever is President There: France Fries While Its Leaders Avert Eyes
by Barry Rubin
In the tiny town of Barr, France—population 6000—in Alsace near the German and Swiss borders, there is a tiny parking lot near the main street. You pull into it, take one of the dozen or so spaces, and then notice the sign, "Parking de Synagogue."
For a moment one thinks that this is the parking lot of a synagogue. But then you see the small sign saying that in 1882 a synagogue was built on this spot and in 1985 it was torn down to make the parking lot. It isn't the parking lot for the synagogue but the Synagogue Parking Lot, the only one in town.
The next village down the road, Bergheim, population 1500, is far tinier and even more charming, about the closest thing to a perfectly preserved Medieval place I've ever seen. There, too, is a sign where a synagogue once stood. In both places, I visited the well-organized tourist information bureaus but they could find no picture of the synagogue and knew nothing of their village's Jewish history. (I am told that the synagogue has been turned into a town museum, though nobody in Bergheim said such a thing nor was it in the literature handed out in the information center.)
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