Following Assault, Top German Jewish Leader Urges Community: Don't Wear Kippas

Germany’s main Jewish leader says he would advise people visiting big cities against wearing a kippah in public

Facebook screenshot of the video of the apparent anti-Semitic attack in Berlin, April 18, 2018
Facebook screenshot

Germany’s main Jewish leader says he would advise people visiting big cities against wearing Jewish skullcaps, following a street assault last week on two young men wearing them.

Mike Samuel Delberg

The attack in Berlin, in which a 19-year-old Syrian asylum-seeker is a suspect, added to growing concern in Germany about anti-Semitism.

Josef Schuster, the head of Germany’s Central Council of Jews, told broadcaster Radioeins Tuesday that wearing a skullcap is right in principle, but that he was advising individuals “against showing themselves openly with a kippa in a big-city setting in Germany, and wear a baseball cap or something else to cover their head instead.”

Schuster suggested three years ago that Jews shouldn’t wear skullcaps in areas with large Muslim populations. But he stressed there’s increasing anti-Semitic sentiment among non-migrants.

>> Read more: Get serious! Most French Jews have already dropped their kippa ■ Why kippa walks and Muslim peace rings won't solve Europe's crisis  ■ Yes, I will wear a kippa in public in Paris >> 

The Berlin Jewish community is organizing a demonstration against anti-Semitism in response to an attack on an Israeli man wearing a yarmulke, and is urging participants to wear a kippah.

A broad coalition from interfaith, political, academic and pro-Israel circles is backing the “Berlin wears a kippah” protest set for Wednesday evening in front of the Jewish community center in the former West Berlin.

On the same day, a similar demonstration is planned for Erfurt, the capital of the former East German state of Thuringia, organized by ACHAVA Festspiele Thüringen, a private cultural organization. The event will take place in the morning and conclude at the New Synagogue in the center of the historic city.

JTA contributed to this story