(JTA) – A French-Jewish lawmaker and his non-Jewish colleague wore kippahs in parliament to signal their rejection of anti-Semitism.
Meyer Habib and Claude Goasguen were filmed wearing the Jewish head covering, also known as a yarmulke or skullcap, briefly in the corridors of the National Assembly Wednesday, after a Jewish community leader from Marseille called on Jews to remove their kippahs as a security measure following a spate of anti-Semitic stabbings in the southern city, TV5 reported.
The call Tuesday by Tzvi Amar, president of the Marseille office of the Consistoire – a community organization responsible for providing religious services – sparked a passionate debate in France over the country’s anti-Semitism problem. His suggestion was squarely rejected by other community representatives and by French President François Hollande, who called a reality in which Jews need to remove their kippahs “intolerable.”
Jews in Israel and France, as well as some non-Jews, vowed to wear kippahs demonstratively on Friday across France and beyond to protest anti-Semitism.
In addition to such appeals on social media, French Chief Rabbi Haim Korsia called on soccer fans in Marseille to arrive at a major match on Saturday wearing a kippah.
“There are many small initiatives taking place across France that involve wearing kippahs,” Robert Ejnes, a vice-president of the CRIF umbrella group of French Jewish communities, told JTA Friday.
“The expressions of solidarity we’ve seen in France are a positive outcome to a negative reality that we would have preferred did not happen, in which the religious freedom of Jews is debated,” he added. “At the end of the day, though, we draw encouragement from the public reaction to what was said.”
Since October, there have been three non-fatal stabbing attacks on Jews in Marseille, which has a Jewish population of 80,000.