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Call by Marseille Jewish leader not to wear kippah sparks strong opposition from other French Jewish leaders

Written by Joseph Byron
Wednesday, 13 January 2016 19:24
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PARIS (EJP)---A suggestion by the leader of Marseille’s Jewish community, Zvi Ammar, who urged his followers to stop wearing the kippah, has sparked strong opposition from other Jewish leaders in France.

Ammar called on congregants to stop wearing the kippah a day after a 35-year-old Jewish teacher wearing a kippah was wounded in a knife attack in Marseille by a 15-year-old Turkish boy of Kurdish origin claiming to act in the name of the Islamic State (IS) group.

The teacher was on his way to work at the Franco-Hebraic Institute in the southern France port city when the teenager struck him with a machete before fleeing. Police caught the attacker, a Turkish citizen of Kurdish origin, about 10 minutes later.

The attack occurred in broad daylight, in front of witnesses, said the police. The Jewish teacher was lightly wounded on his hand and his back.

Marseille police called it a “clearly anti-Semitic act”.

On Wednesday, Zvi Ammar declared: ‘’Not wearing the kippah can save lives and nothing is more important.’’

“It really hurts to reach that point, but I don’t want anyone to die in Marseille because they have a kippah on their head,” he added.

He said that Jews are attacked and threatened because they are identifiable as Jews, and while the community would do everything possible to ensure the safety of its members, “you can’t assign a policeman or a soldier to every Jew.”

The rabbi said that he, too, would abide by his ruling. “On Saturday, for the first time in my life, I will not be wearing the kippah to the synagogue,” he said.

However, France’s Chief Rabbi Haim Korsia took the opposite position, telling Jews to continue wearing their kippahs in public in order to form a “united front.”

“We will not cede! We will continue to wear the kippa,”Rabbi Korsia said.

Korsia also called on fans of football club Olymique Marseille (OM) to cover their heads at the team's next match in solidarity with the city’s Jewish community.

“During the next OM match against Montpellier [January 20], I call on all spectators to come with a head covering: a baseball hat, a cap, a wooly hat… It’s a way of saying: we’re united. And it’s solidarity and unity that we need right now, believe me,” he told the regional daily newspaper La Provence.

Joel Mergui, president France’s Consistory, an umbrella organisation that administers Jewish congregations, echoed Korsia.

“Don’t touch my kippa!” he said. "He [Ammar] knows as well as I do that wearing a kippa or not [wearing one] won’t resolve the issue of terrorism.”

Roger Cukierman, president of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions of France (CRIF), agreed with Mergui, stating that Ammar’s entreaty was “not a good idea”.

“It translates to a defeatist attitude, to giving up,” Cukierman told AFP.

On the same line, Roger Cukierman, President of CRIF, the umbrella organization representing French Jewish institutions, said that Ammar’s statement was “not a good idea”.

“It translates to a defeatist attitude, to giving up,” Cukierman told that not to wear a kippah would convey a “defeatist attitude.”

Some 70,000 Jews live in Marseille, making it the second largest Jewish community of France after Paris and his region.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 January 2016 19:30


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