German Jewish leader: Don’t wear yarmulkas in certain areas
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German Jewish leader: Don’t wear yarmulkas in certain areas

Joseph Schuster discourages Jewish visibility in Muslim quarters, asks for improved security, but adds that 'hiding is not the right way'

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

Berlin residents wear kippot in solidarity with a local rabbi who was brutally attacked in August 2013 (photo credit: AP/Michael Gottschalk)
Berlin residents wear kippot in solidarity with a local rabbi who was brutally attacked in August 2013 (photo credit: AP/Michael Gottschalk)

Jews should think twice before wearing a yarmulka in certain areas of Germany, the head of the country’s Jewish umbrella group warned Thursday.

“The question is whether it makes sense to be recognizable as Jews in certain areas… by wearing a yarmulka, or whether it’s better to wear a different head covering. This is indeed a development that I didn’t see five years ago and that is a little frightening.”

In an interview with a Berlin-based radio station, Schuster said such areas include “problematic quarters,” particularly in Berlin but also elsewhere in Germany, “and districts with strong Muslim populations.”

Jews and Jewish institutions feel safe in Germany, Schuster said, adding, however, that he still asked authorities to boost security. “It is certainly necessary to improve security especially for smaller and medium-sized Jewish communities.”

The number of anti-Semitic hate crimes increased in Germany in recent years. While in 2013, some 790 such cases were registered, last year the number climbed to 1076, according to Spiegel Online, the country’s leading news portal, quoting yet unpublished government figures.

One of Schuster’s predecessors, Charlotte Knobloch, advised German Jews not to make themselves recognizable as such in public. But Schuster rejected such recommendations. “Hiding is not the right way,” he said, calling on communities and institutions to present themselves confidently to the public. “Jewish communities should open up and show themselves, because only something that is known causes no fear.”

'Berlin wears kippah' the city's largest daily proclaimed last year, in solidarity with a rabbi who was beaten up on the streets of Berlin (photo credit: courtesy B.Z.)
‘Berlin wears kippah’ the city’s largest daily proclaimed last year, in solidarity with a rabbi who was beaten up on the streets of Berlin (photo credit: courtesy B.Z.)
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