Rabbi David Lau, the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel, along with several European Jewish rabbis, called on German Jews to keep wearing kipahs, or yarmulkes, in public following a recommendation by a German Jewish leader that they find alternative head coverings.
In an interview with Radio Berlin in light of a rise in anti-Semitism, President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany Josef Schuster said Jews should not wear kippahs (traditional Jewish head coverings for men and boys) in public.
“Defiantly showing your colors would in principle be the right way to go,” he said. “Nevertheless, I would advise individual people against openly wearing a kippah in big German cities.”
Chief Rabbi Lau responded on Tuesday that the best way to battle anti-Semitism is to immigrate to Israel, but that all Jews in Germany and throughout the Diaspora must continue to wear the kippah and other Jewish symbols.
Lau added that the proper response in Germany is for law enforcement to ensure the safety of the Jewish community.
The president of the European Jewish Association, Rabbi Menachem Margolin, called on Schuster to retract his statement. “Jews, or any other religious or ethnic groups, should not be encouraged to give up their religious attributes,” he emphasized.
Mordechai Mendelson, a Chabad-Lubavitch rabbi in the German city of Karlsruhe, told Galei Tzahal Army Radio that a new form of anti-Semitism in Germany stems from Muslim immigrants to the country. “Hatred of Jews was normal and imbibed with mother’s milk; there is a large amount of people who have arrived with this hatred,” he said.
Chancellor Angela Merkel confirmed Mendelson’s opinion, denouncing anti-Semitism from “people of Arab origin who bring another form of anti-Semitism into the country,” Merkel told Channel 10.
Last week, an Israeli Arab from Haifa whose friend challenged him to test public reactions to wearing a kippah in Berlin was attacked by a Syrian refugee who screamed “Yahudi” (“Jew” in Arabic) and whipped him with a belt. A video by the victim, 21-year-old Adam Armoush, has gone viral on social media.
The Jewish community of Berlin scheduled a “Wear a Kippah” demonstration for Wednesday evening (April 25) to be held in front of the Jewish community center on the “west Berlin” side of the city, to express the outrage of the city’s Jews over the attack, and the general rise of anti-Semitism in the country. A similar demonstration was set for Wednesday morning in Erfurt, the capital of the “east German” state of Thuringia. “If you can’t make it to Erfurt, then wear a kippa wherever you happen to be at that time,” the rally announcement said.