Biography of Flora Goldenberg
I am 30 year old. I am born and raised in Paris.
I grew up in Le Marais neighborhood, in the heart of the Jewish quarter of Paris, in an Ashkenazi-French Jewish family who lived in the Pletzl of Paris, since the end of the 19th century.
I feel very close to my Jewish origins and to my French Identity at the same time.
When I decided to research and reveal the Jewish Heritage, I did not expect to find so many Jewish sights in France.
There is so much to discover: The historical landmarks, the beautiful museums, the Jewish artists, the creative studios, the art masterpieces, the small and big synagogues, private and public, built by innovative architects, the Jewish shops…
To begin my research, I started by shadowing professional tour guides and my mother, who is a Jewish tour guide in Paris as well. At the age of 22, I really enjoyed following the guides, reading the books, attending trainings and events and learning about my city’s inner workings and deepest secrets.
Today, I still love my job as a Guide-Interpreter: I have the chance to work in beautiful places such as Versailles, Louvre and Le Marais.
I feel honored to meet interesting people coming from places far away from Paris. I am eager to share my knowledge with my guests and I hope I can inspire through my tours and my experience.
1.a. My work
I work as a Guide-conférencier in Paris museums and as a part-time guide (mostly on Sundays) in the Shoah Memorial of Paris
I keep myself informed about what is happening in Paris, and the actual Jewish situation in France and in the World.
The Jewish memory is very important for me. I animate free workshops for children in partnership with the Shoah Foundation and Ministry of Education : Paris schools and national schools. The groups of children from 6 to 16 learn about the Jewish history and the Shoah in Europe.
With a lot of passion and experience, I love to discuss a variety of subjects with my visitors.
During the tours and the breaks, we share great moments exchanging about our own personal experiences, mutual interest, our travels, our favorite art pieces or artists and I try to explain, as a Jewish guide in Paris, how life is in Paris today.
I weave strong ties to my community in Paris and I have access to three synagogues. But we can only tour inside one of the three private synagogues of my neighborhood, depending on the day, on the time and the number of participants on the tour.
We can also meet the Rabbis of the biggest synagogues of Paris or the President of a Jewish Association in Paris or a director of a museum.
I am a native Parisian and I will make sure to tell you first hand stories that you would never find in a travel guide book.
1.b. Why did I become a guide?
Many reasons pulled me to do this amazing job since I was 22.
The city of Paris is very beautiful, it is my life passion and I couldn’t think of a better medium to reveal everything that Paris can offer than being a tour guide.
Paris is actually a paradise for the Art lovers.
I have the chance to attend an expo in Paris, at least once, every month : My favorites are of course the exhibits about the rich Jewish heritage in Paris , at the MAHJ musuem, at the IMA, Centre pompidou or the shoah memorial…
In my past-time, I can try and learn about a famous painter, his life and his technique.
I try to stay up to date on cultural events in Paris (music, Jewish expo in Paris, concerts…) so if you want to enjoy an event, send me an email and we will look it up.
I must confess that I have been trained by an amazing mother : Léontine Cohen, who was a tour guide in Paris for 25 years. She is passionate about Art and History. We share the pleasure of guiding and sharing our knowledge. She trained me since very young to be a respectful tour guide, to be humble and to be polite, to listen to people’s needs and help them with the best we can.
My mother also transmitted to me the importance of sustaining the Jewish memory.
Our origins are very important, and this is why we devoted both our careers to the Jewish Heritage in Paris.
When I went to the Sorbonne University to study History and Art, it was a big surprise for me, that there was lots of history lessons about Europe, France and other cultures, but not enough material about the Jewish history of France.
So I made it my everyday mission to structure a Knowledge about the Jewish Heritage of Paris that we can transmit more easily.
I go to the Louvre to fetch for physical evidence and artifacts coming from Israel’s Kingdom or North Africa, Iran and nearby regions.
Good news: I have found plenty of meaningful pieces that I would like to show you.
Many artists painted scenes from Jewsih life (wedding, jewish apartments… ), they also painted their perception of the Jewish history and Israel.
1.b. My approach for the project
I study the History of Europe in general, but also the American history, the history of Israel, the Diaspora in order to understand fully the interconnected events and the political and economical context of each period that lead to these events.
To succeed, I read about the historical facts, I double check the references, I attend the testimonials in the Shoah memorial and watch the videos of Yad Vashem, I listen to the stories of the survivors, I go to the National Archives in Paris 04 and the National library & repository.
I travel to get more perspective and to learn about other cultures while I enjoy my stay. I book a Jewish tour if possible in the city I visit.
I take notes and I summarize my knowledge. My tours are not a lecture but a friendly walk with someone who happens to know many details about the Jewish French History.
From the first Jewish settlers in Paris, the establishment of the Roman Empire in Paris, the first clandestine synagogues of Paris, the hidden gems of the jewish architecture, the Jewish Artists and their Masterpieces in the Louvre, the history of antiJudaism during middle ages to the Belle Epoque of the Jewish French society and the notorious Jewish families of France … You will discover everything you need to know !
I say : fire away all your questions during your tour and enjoy Paris with a unique guide.
We can see Ain Ghazal at the Louvre :
I love to freely share my independent opinions and enjoy a debate about the actual Jewish situation in France.
I can review your itinerary and share tips or even develop plans for your trip to Paris, with adapted activities depending on the season and the French holidays.
For your stay in Paris : I will give only but honest advice, to help you find a hotel or a Kosher restaurant. I can think of surprises and romantic ideas for your partner while you come to Paris.
Any other orientation question, big or small, that you have about Paris and the Jewish Paris Life : Ask me by email, I will answer you with all I’ve learned.
For Sabbath, I can book kosher dinners, pre-order for you or share with you a heating plate.
When I travel, I always look for new Jewish tours ( you can say I am a “Jewish Tour Addict” too), even in far places from Israel, like Brazil with the Rio Jewish Tour, in Morocco, in Tunisia with the Mysterious Synagogue of Ghriba … and of course in the usual towns like Amsterdam, Rome, Venice, Jerusalem … I found great Jewish tours everywhere !
I must confess, my list is still short… but I am counting on exploring more Jewish areas of every city I visit ! Many of my guests told me about the cities they visited and I am really interested in hearing about yours, if you like Jewish tours as well.
You can share your experience and travel ideas with me, or if you want a recommendation of a tour guide in these cities I have been visiting.
5 Years : Master in Art & History at the University of Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris III
1 Year : Special training for guide-conférencier & art interpreter with oral and written exams in English.
2011 | Obtained my Licence to guide as “Guide Conférencière” by the state and started my work experience + 1 official Card that allows me to skip the waiting line and guide groups in the National Museums of France such as the Louvre and Versailles.
2012 | Started working with International agencies to offer private tours in the Louvre, Versailles, Montmartre…
2013 | Started working with the Holocaust Memorial of Paris as a guide lecturer and animator. Participated in workshops about the Shoah history, animated workshops for schools kids, teenagers and families, attended the Shoah survivors’ testimonies in Paris. I attended all the main events like the inauguration of the Wall of Names and we helped with the exhibits preparation and animation.
3. Quality assurance & services
First, I check for you the Jewish holidays in France, during your requested booking dates, in order to avoid a last minute surprise.
We will avoid the Jewish holidays and Sabbats for the Jewish walking tours in Le Marais because during the Jewish holidays, most of the stores and synagogues are closed. Some of the synagogues are open for prayers. Please, check with me by email if you want to go anyway.
I check if the museums are open when you come to Paris before any confirmation (for example the Louvre closes every Tuesday)
I can book and buy the tickets using my company ID for individuals or groups of more than 20 people. (contact me by email for big group organization)
We will skip the line in all national museums (Louvre, Versailles…)
If you are not Jewish and you need an orientation tour or a simplified version of my Jewish tour to introduce you to our Jewish culture, please let me know, I would love to help !
For Jewish visitors: you can ask for prayer time, the private access to synagogues, the organization of the Seder …
I need some information to prepare the tour at best:
Diets : Glatt, Kosher, not Kosher, Gluten free, allergies, vegetarian, vegan …
Your pace : long walks, back pain, mobility …
I can give you a list of excellent books to read before the tour.
If we tour with children, please let me know in advance their age so I can adapt the booklet, the treasure hunts and the little surprise gifts …
For airport transfers, I will need a flight number.
For couples, I can help organize a special romantic trip depending on the season and on the budget. I can help with some ideas.
I can help you buy the train tickets because in France using the train is very safe and reduces the cost of hiring a private driver-guide. You can go everywhere with the train in France. But I always recommend that you take a tour guide on the trip with you for Champagne (tastings in the best Champagne houses, Giverny (Claude Monet) and Normandy (WWII and American Landing beaches)
I can make a customized itinerary to see some locations in France.
You can read my reviews here:
About my family
4. The Goldenberg Family
History of a Jewish French family in Paris
My grandfather, Joe Goldenberg, opened the famous Goldenberg restaurant long before the beginning of the World War II.
He opened a restaurant, that finally became a meeting place for the Holocaust survivors and the former resistance fighters after the war.
Before the 1900’s : Many of eastern European Jews arrived during the 19th century. It was mostly a Yiddish immigration. They opened many businesses. They built synagogues and lived together in the Pletzl Paris (called le Marais today)
1939 : Nazi Germany attacked Poland and Paris started preparing for the War. The French Jews started to worry about the situation.
But the war seemed far away for them…until May 10, 1940, when the Germans attacked France and quickly defeated the French army. This sudden attack is also known as the BlitzKrieg
Germans occupied the city on June 14. The French jews woke up on the sounds of the German loudspeakers announcing a curfew on Paris while the German troops are taking positions in the city.
1940’s : The jews in Paris (and in all France) became the focus of Nazi round-ups during the occupation of Paris in the second world war. Some French policeman collaborated to enforce the antisemitic laws and even to deport Jews.
Some French Christians and Muslims helped the French Jews hide and escape the horrors. They were called the Righteous Among the Nations. Read about Marcel Marceau, a Silent Hero.
1942 – September 2nd / 1943 – October 28th : The round up caught up with the Goldenberg family:
My grandfather survived the waves of deportations that hit Paris at that time. He escaped the horrors of the German occupation. Unfortunately his two sisters did not get the same luck as more than the half of the local Jewish community died in concentration camps.
Picture of the Goldenberg Family – displayed at the Shoah Memorial of Paris.
1944 : The uprising against the Germans in Paris began on August 19, 1944, with the takeover of the police headquarters and other government buildings.
Thanks to the French resistance and the help of American allies, the German control over Paris was already breaking down.
About 2,000 Parisians were killed in the liberation of their city, along with about 800 Resistance fighters and policemen, and over 100 soldiers from the Free France and U.S. forces.
A lot of the neighborhood merchants told that the Goldenberg restaurant gave life back to Rue des Rosiers, and it became an attraction for tourist coming to visit from USA and Canada and gave a very pleasant Jewish atmosphere at night !
A visitor from Chicago, during one of my the Jewish tours of Le Marais, told me that he remembers my grandfather and his restaurant and even his dog !
1970 : A symbol of revival
The beautiful yellow facade will never be changed as it is considered today a Jewish landmark belonging to the city of Paris.
In 2019, I found in Tel Aviv some postcards with the pictures of the Joe Goldenberg restaurant and some old pictures of the boutiques of Rue des Rosiers.
Here is a picture of Joseph Goldenberg in front of the Restaurant Goldenberg
1982 : After a raging war in the middle east, the Parisian restaurant was targeted in a grenade and a machine gun attack in which six people were killed and 22 were injured.
It is believed that the attack was a retaliation after the end of the war in the middle east.
Few years after the attack, Joseph packed up the business but his namesake lives on. Many Parisian still consider his as an emblem of the “Pletzl”, which is yiddish for “Little Place”.
2020 : Read more about the Jewish Paris on the Jerusalem Post
5. My Mother is a Guide-lecturer
My mother Léontine Cohen works as a Tour guide in Paris for more than 25 years before she moved to Israel to live her dream job : tour guide in Jerusalem.
My mother’s family is Dutch. With a long history in Amsterdam, my grandparents kept many documents from the Shoah and transmitted them to us : their children and grand-children.
All my grandparents recorded their testimonies at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.
My cousins made a research and wrote a book about our grandparents, they traced our genealogy in English and in Dutch, they followed the stories of the holocaust in Holland and Austria (the occupation of Amsterdam, the collaboration…)
It is amazing the things we learn from our family history, and how much it is still applicable to our lives today!
My mother Léontine still comes from Israel to Paris:
She is a great guide and an excellent mentor.
She moved from Amsterdam to live in Paris since the 80s.
I majored in Art and History and then became a state-licensed tour guide at a young age. Thanks to my mother’s advice and to her “guidance”, I learned more in-depth about the Jewish history. My mother cares a lot about the Jewish diaspora, the Shoah and the Jewish life, not only in Europe but everywhere she goes.
6. My uncle is a tour guide in Amsterdam
Today Amsterdam has a big Jewish community, even though during the occupation of The Netherlands, many Jews were hunted.
A Jewish tour in Amsterdam is a trip along the traces of a very important, but almost vanished culture that shaped Amsterdam in many ways during four centuries.
These traces are mainly located in different neighborhoods that my uncle Taco Pauka will be happy to show you on his own Jewish Tour in Amsterdam next to Anne Frank Museum.
Caption : A Jewish tour with my uncle (Pauka Tours) includes the Jewish Cultural Quarter, Anne Frank`s residential neighborhood, Anne Frank House, the Contemporary Jewish Buitenveldert …
I am a French & Jewish tour guide in Paris. I majored in Art and History from the Sorbonne Paris III. I come from a Jewish Ashkenazi family who lived in Paris for more than a century : The Goldenbergs.
My mother is a guide lecturer in Paris as well and mentored me since a very young age to do my first Jewish tour. She inspired me to continue the family tradition.
I would love to share my knowledge and to help visitors discover the amazing Jewish heritage that I am ready to show you in Le Marais and in the Louvre Museum, then inside the small synagogues of Paris and through the tasting of Jewish pastries of my neighborhood.
You can ask me questions by email and I will be happy to help: email@example.com