I have worn my kippah at highway truck stops, to concerts, and while camping. I have worn it in the most non-Jewish neighborhoods. And I have rarely thought twice about doing so.
Jews in Europe do not have that luxury.
Many European Jews today refrain from wearing kippot, or anything that identifies them as Jewish, in public. And polls show that more than twenty percent of European Jews avoid Jewish institutions and events.
These findings are not surprising given recent attacks on Jewish museums, synagogues, a kosher market, and schools – yes, even elementary schools! This is madness.
What can be done? First, Europeans officials must recognize the danger, and speak out about it. Despite strong statements by some European leaders, others engage in verbal contortions to avoid saying what is patently clear. After the murder of four Jews at the kosher market in Paris, for instance, the Austrian government issued a statement of timid circumlocution: “People of various confessions who had the misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.” What? They couldn’t write “Jewish”? They couldn’t say “anti-Semitism”?
Meanwhile, we Chicago Jews, while vigilant, have demonstrated pride by attending recent Jewish communal events. I was pleased to see many EHNTJC congregants at Ravinia for last Sunday’s Israel Solidarity Day. And I heard glowing reports about this week’s Cantors Assembly concert, where Cantor David Brandhandler was honored by colleagues, including Cantor Fortunee Belilos, who performed Cantor Brandhandler’s moving Modim composition. Mazel tov to Cantor Brandhandler. Yashar ko’ach to Cantor Belilos.
Friends, no Jew should ever fear wearing a kippah or Jewish jewelry. No Jew should ever be forced to think twice about attending Jewish events – anywhere.
Please sign on to AJC’s Call to Action on Anti-Semitism in Europe at www.ajc.org.
Rabbi Jeffrey Weill