The troubling question in the French Jewish community: Is it time to leave?

French Muslims who are as assimilated as French Jews speak privately of suddenly being trapped into the identity of Islam, whether they are religious or not. Sartre once wrote of the Jews, “It is the anti-Semite who creates the Jew.” The same can be said about Muslims, as the documentary-film maker and novelist Karim Miské—who was born in Ivory Coast and was not brought up Muslim—wrote in Le Monde: “It is the Islamophobe who makes the Muslim.” Recently, Miské, winner of an English PEN award for his novel Arab Jazz, set in the checkerboard world of the 19th Arrondissement, was in the Marais with his 12-year-old daughter when a well-dressed man looked at him menacingly and said, “Boom.” “The tragedy is that we are now trapped in an identification with religion,” he told me. “Frankly, it is racist.”

I went to visit a Jewish family in the Sixth Arrondissement, where life is as assimilated and as privileged as it gets for Jews in Paris. The 18-year-old daughter, a high-school senior making plans to attend university in England, asked me, “Is it true that if I lived in America I could wear a tiny Star of David necklace or a sweatshirt from Technion university?”

“What would happen if you wore it in this neighborhood?” I asked. “Do you think you would be physically attacked?”

“I would be made to feel angoisse,” she said, meaning uncomfortable, filled with anxiety or angst. This teenager was certain there would be looks and harassment, perhaps even a physical altercation. I heard the word angoisse frequently in Paris. However established you have been as a Jew in France, I was told, you no longer have the luxury of feeling invisible. It is as if the Jews of France are being forced yet again into a ghetto of cultural identification. This, despite France’s profound traditions of liberty, equality, and fraternity, not to mention laïcité—the stubborn commitment to strict secularism. As a member of an established Jewish family recently told the Telegraph columnist Anne-Elisabeth Moutet, “When did we become foreigners again?”