April 25, 2018

Berliners should cover their heads in solidarity with Jewish community 

Newswise — Germany has experienced a rise in anti-Semitic attacks, including the videotaped assault of a man in Berlin which sparked outrage after it went viral last week. In response, the president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Josef Schuster, advised Jews against using the traditional skullcaps (kippahs) in public. Jonathan Aaron Boyarin, associate professor of modern Jewish studies at Cornell University, says Schuster’s advice reflects the hard choices the Jewish community is facing in Europe.


Boyarin says: 

“It's been clear to me for decades that the safety of Jews in Europe and in its various countries is a good measure of the health of European democracy in general. An open society is a difficult thing to maintain, and Europe is under great stress. There are times of greater and lesser safety, and it's hard to avoid complacency and alarmism at the same time.

“I recall walking in Paris with a kippah, skullcap, in the late 1970s, and being told by young Parisian Jews that they didn't dare do so. Was I being an incautious guest? Were they too intimidated? These are tough decisions that individuals should make for themselves.

“Right now, I'm heartened to see that there are plans for a 'Berlin Wears Kippah' rally--and I hope that thousands of non-Jewish Berliners will cover their heads in solidarity.”

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