German Leader Suggests Jews Shouldn't Wear Kippas in Muslim Areas

Josef Schuster, head of Central Council of Jews, qualified remarks by saying that hiding isn't right approach to concerns about anti-Semitism.

The Associated Press
Madeline Chambers
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
President of the Central Council Jews in Germany Josef Schuster, November 30, 2014.Credit: AP
The Associated Press
Madeline Chambers

Germany's top Jewish leader suggested on Thursday that Jews shouldn't wear the traditional skullcap, or kippa, in areas with large Muslim populations, but also said that hiding isn't the right approach to concerns about anti-Semitism.

Security worries among European Jews have been stoked by recent attacks in Paris and Copenhagen. Jews in Germany generally feel safe, though security measures need to be evaluated frequently, Josef Schuster, the head of the Central Council of Jews, told rbb Inforadio.

One of Schuster's predecessors last year suggested that Jews in Germany should make sure they're not recognizable as Jews.

"I think hiding is not the right way" of dealing with worries about anti-Semitism, Schuster said. However, he added that it's right to ask whether, in areas with high Muslim populations in Berlin and elsewhere, "it really makes sense to identify oneself as a Jew by wearing a kippa, for example, or whether it's better to wear different headgear there."

Orthodox Jewish men customarily keep their head covered at all times. Traditionally, the kippa is worn but other head coverings are also often accepted.

"That is a development that I didn't expect five years ago, and is a little alarming," Schuster said, adding that Muslim groups should do more to counter anti-Semitism among young people.

On Tuesday, Germany's interior minister met with Jewish leaders and reassured them that their safety is a top priority.